California Supreme Court Rules Same-Sex Marriages Null And Void

Court says San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom overstepped his authority by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The California Supreme Court said on Thursday that the nearly 4,000 same-sex marriages authorized by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in the last year are null and void.

The court ruled that Newsom overstepped his authority as mayor, and that the city of San Francisco violated the law by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in a monthlong wedding spree that began February 12.

Since both legislation and a voter-approved measure in California state that marriage must be the union of a man and a woman, the court ruled that the city of San Francisco did not have the right to marry same-sex couples.

Thursday's ruling focuses solely on the issue of whether San Francisco was allowed to circumvent the laws put forth by California's judicial and legislative branches; it does not resolve whether same-sex couples are allowed to marry under the California Constitution. The latter issue will be heard later this year in San Francisco County Superior Court, according to CNN.

In a 5-2 vote on Thursday, the justices decided to void the nearly 4,000 marriages authorized by Newsom. Justice Joyce Kennard wrote that the legality of those unions will be further considered when "the constitutionality of California laws restricting marriages to opposite-sex couples has been authoritatively resolved through judicial proceedings."

In other words, if the court eventually rules that same-sex marriage is legal under the California Constitution, the couples will be permitted to wed legally.

Earlier this year, San Francisco sued the state of California, claiming that the state's existing marriage laws discriminate against homosexuals.

In May, Massachusetts became the first state to allow same-sex couples to legally wed under its state constitution (see "Same-Sex Couples Marry — Legally — For The First Time In U.S.").

Gay-rights groups have reportedly organized rallies in San Francisco to follow Thursday's ruling. The groups have also called for same-sex couples to approach the county clerk's office on Friday requesting marriage licenses as a show of protest.