California’s Supreme Court annulled more than 4,000 same-sex marriages in San Francisco last week, ruling the city violated state laws that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom allowed same-sex couples to wed on 12 February this year, sparking a month-long marriage spree that saw 4,037 couples tie the knot before the California High Court stepped in on 11 March.
Last week Supreme Court chief justice Ronald George said local officials in the city had exceeded their authority by issuing marriage licences to same-sex couples, and declared the marriages void and of no legal effect. The judges ordered a refund of fees paid.
I’m proud of what we did, Newsom told a press conference. We decided, more importantly, to put a human face on discrimination -¦ We made a statement across this country, and for that matter, around the world.
The Supreme Court ruled only on the issue of whether the mayor had the authority to allow same-sex marriage. They did not look at the broader arguments of whether the state constitution should allow gay marriage. Lawsuits on that issue are expected before a lower court next month and the state Supreme Court said it was not signalling its views on those issues.
Gay.com reported that a dozen gay and lesbian couples, some wearing wedding dresses and tuxedos, waited for the decision last week on the steps of the Supreme Court building. Some cried when the decision was announced.
Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage licence in San Francisco, said they were dismayed by the ruling.
Del is 83 years old and I am 79, Lyon told Gay.com. After being together for more than 50 years, it is a terrible blow to have the rights and protections of marriage taken away from us. At our age, we do not have the luxury of time.
Meantime, the other man at the centre of the scandal surrounding gay New Jersey governor James McGreevey has fled the US.
McGreevey’s former aide Golan Cipel, who claimed he was sexually harassed by the governor, has returned to his home in Israel to prepare for his legal battle, Reuters reported.
McGreevey’s spokesperson denied the governor sexually harassed Cipel or tried to buy his silence.
Upon learning of the harassment case against him, McGreevey -“ who has been married twice and has two children -“ publicly outed himself and resigned last Thursday.
My truth is that I am a gay American, McGreevey said at a press conference.