SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 12 – The California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a blitz of same-sex weddings here in February and March had no standing under state law and declared the marriages “void and of no legal effect from their inception.”
In a unanimous ruling, the justices said that Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco had exceeded his authority in allowing the marriages. By a 5-to-2 vote, the court also rendered the licenses, more than 4,000 in all, nothing more than a collector’s item, ordering city officials to remove any record of them from the books and to offer the couples refunds of license fees.
The decision was narrow legally, applying only to the issue of executive authority and not to the constitutionality of state law limiting marriage to unions between a man and a woman.
Yet in practical terms, though previous rulings here and elsewhere in the country have placed thousands of same-sex marriages in limbo, the decision on Thursday was the biggest and most definitive reversal of gay weddings anywhere because of the nullification of the marriages.