California Gay Marriages Annulled

Kenji Sugahara

FYI: The California Supreme Court annulled the SF gay marriages on very narrow grounds. Relevant sections are below.

[W]e agree with petitioners that local officials in San Francisco exceeded their authority by taking official action in violation of applicable statutory provisions. We therefore shall issue a writ of mandate directing the officials to enforce those provisions unless and until they are judicially determined to be unconstitutional and to take all necessary remedial steps to undo the continuing effects of the officials’ past unauthorized actions, including making appropriate corrections to all relevant official records and notifying all affected same-sex couples that the same-sex marriages authorized by the officials are void and of no legal effect.
To avoid any misunderstanding, we emphasize that the substantive question of the constitutional validity of California’s statutory provisions limiting marriage to a union between a man and a woman is not before our court in this proceeding, and our decision in this case is not intended, and should not be interpreted, to reflect any view on that issue. We hold only that in the absence of a judicial determination that such statutory provisions are unconstitutional, local executive officials lacked authority to issue marriage licenses to, solemnize marriages of, or register certificates of marriage for same-sex couples, and marriages conducted between same-sex couples in violation of the applicable statutes are void and of no legal effect. Should the applicable statutes be judicially determined to be unconstitutional in the future, same-sex couples then would be free to obtain valid marriage licenses and enter into valid marriages.
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    It's a very interesting basis. I'm only on page 22 out of 114, but part of it appears to be that the county clerk and recorder are considered to be agents of the state and not the county when dealing with marriage licenses, and so Mayor Newsom wasn't allowed to order them to do anything.

  • Autumn DePoe (unverified)

    If only my site were not down right now. The whole thing makes me sick. Denying unions is beyond me.

  • spmmm (unverified)

    Autumn, denying unions may be bad, but the opinion sure seems to be a "road map" to success and didn't exactly rule out the possibility of same-sex unions.

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    How in the world are you people reading this entire opinion that quickly? I'm still only on page 43.

  • Bob R. (unverified)

    Several have written privately, here's what I've included in replies -

    Jason and I will always consider our California pilgrimmage and ceremony to be the "real" wedding.

    We don't plan on putting our slightly used license on ebay.

    In fact, it will be framed at some point.

    Do we expect a refund? No. When we were waiting in line with hundreds of others, a lot of people discussed this. The general consensus was that the licenses had a good chance of being invalidated down the road, and that the county was taking a big risk on our behalf, and spending a lot of money to process this influx of license applications. So they can keep the money for their trouble. If we do get a refund check, I may frame a copy along with the license.

    What next?

    We are now free to try elsehwere, should we choose. (We couldn't get a Mult. Co. license when they were handing them out, becuase at that time we were already married in California. You can't go and get "remarried" in another state just for safe keeping. One license at a time.)

    Mult. Co. is not issuing same-sex licenses right now, pending the court process. That process most likely won't complete until after the Nov. election, and the anti-marriage amendment may very well pass, further complicating matters immensely.

    Massachusetts is a possible destination for us, but not until the courts clarify the status of out-of-state couples. Right now, an old MA law has been resurrected by the Republican governor that bars out-of-state couples from marrying there if the marriage would be illegal in their own state. (One could argue that Oregon is in limbo, therefore not technically illegal, and it would be OK to marry in MA. But you'd have to convince a judge or two, I imagine.)

    The California ruling today specifically does not answer the question of whether or not same-sex marriages should be allowed under the California constitution. It is quite possible that once the court process completes in Califonia, we could be driving back down there for a "do-over".

    • Bob R. (whose husband Jason E. is a regular poster at Blue Oregon.)
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    For whatever it's worth, several localities in MA have bucked the "no out-of-state" thing.

  • Jason Evans (unverified)

    Even though we were expecting this, I'm still bummed...

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    Autumn, there's a way to look at this ruling that may be more hopeful than you imagine. (And no, B!x, I'm not reading the whole ruling--I'm reading the blog!) The worst thing for civil rights is when processes become politicized. Our federal and state constitutions are generally pretty good documents, it's difficult to argue that bigotry is legal under them.

    The California Supremes are therefore supporting the cause of gay marriage by proxy--they're sticking to the law. As this thing works its way through the courts, it's going to become increasingly clear that it's not legal to use an entirely different set of laws for one group than another.

    I prefer to see this play out so that all the legal t's are crossed and i's dotted--that makes the resulting law more stable. Take heart.

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    It's the "process distraction," folks. In California, executive branch officials are expressly prohibited from declaring statutes unconstitutional. Only judges can do it.

    Oregon law is not as clear, but I've been saying all along (including through some flames) that there's a good argument that the California rule is in fact implicit in the Oregon Constitution as well.

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    From Reuters:

    DAVENPORT, Iowa (Reuters) - Vice President Dick Cheney said on Tuesday that he does not personally support a constitutional amendment against gay marriage but accepts President Bush's decision to pursue such a ban as administration policy.

    Resorting to unusually expansive language to address an emotional campaign issue that has proved divisive for Republicans, Cheney said he believes individual states rather than the federal government should decide whether to sanction marriage between homosexuals.

    "My general view is that freedom means freedom for everyone. People ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want," Cheney, 63, said in response to a question at a campaign "town hall" meeting in Davenport, Iowa...

    (Repeat of what he said in 2000- but interesting given this year's events)

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