Experts Comment on Main Issues of SF Same-Sex Marriage Case

( [email protected] ) May 26, 2004 03:48 PM EDT

The validity of the some 4,000 same-sex marriage licenses issued in San Francisco under the authority of Mayor Gavin Newsom is the most recent topic in the same-sex marriage debate. On May 25, seven justices of the California Supreme Court heard arguments from opponents.

Several representatives from Christian pro-family groups have summarized the key issues of the debate following the court hearing.

Robert Tyler of ADF said a key issue justices must consider is whether a mayor has authority to interpret the law and decide who can get a marriage license.

Jordan Lorence, senior counsel of the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), and Deputy Attorney Timothy Muscat told the Court that Newsom defied California State Law by allowing the issuance of the same-sex marriage licenses.

"We're hoping," Tyler said, "that the California Supreme Court will recognize that municipal anarchy cannot be accepted in our democratic form of government."

San Francisco attorney Theresa Stewart argued during the hearing that Newsom and County Clerk Nancy Alfaro were in their rights to interpret state law since it was in accordance with granting the Constitutional rights to the people.

However, ADF is hoping the same-sex marriage licenses that were already issued to be declared “null and void, just like counterfeit money or driver's licenses to 12-year-olds," said ADF attorney Dale Schowengerdt. "They were void from the start, and the court should declare them so."

Stewart had asked the Court to withhold from declaring the licenses invalid, waiting for a Constitutional amendment to confirm the status but Associate Justice Marvin Baxter questioned Stewart why the city did not seek clarification on the law before issuing the licenses to avoid ambiguity.

Erin Blad, judicial affairs coordinator for Focus on the Family, said, "It seems that, for once, the court's power has been undermined in this issue and they don't like it,” noting that the justices appeared to more aggressively question Stewart.

If in 90 days when the California court will announce its decision that the San Francisco officials were in the legal right to issue the licenses despite state laws, “it would be a signal to activist judges to go at it the same way and strike down other state laws,” said Family Research Council’s Pat Trueman. "Pro-homosexual lawyers in other states (will} look to this case to see how similar the other states' laws are to the California law.” A “California effect” would then be seen from gay legal groups, according to Trueman.