The California Supreme Court has nullified all marriages performed by San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsome. Regardless of one’s opinions on gay marriage, it’s hard to see any other way this decision could have been. As the decision states:
As these various examples demonstrate, although the present proceeding may be viewed by some as presenting primarily a question of the substantive legal rights of same-sex couples, in actuality the legal issue before us implicates the interest of all individuals in ensuring that public officials execute their official duties in a manner that respects the limits of the authority granted to them as officeholders. In short, the legal question at issue â€” the scope of the authority entrusted to our public officials â€” involves the determination of a fundamental question that lies at the heart of our political system: the role of the rule of law in a society that justly prides itself on being â€œa government of laws, and not of menâ€ (or women).
As indicated above, that issue â€• phrased in the narrow terms presented by this case â€• is whether a local executive official, charged with the ministerial duty of enforcing a statute, has the authority to disregard the terms of the statute in the absence of a judicial determination that it is unconstitutional, based solely upon the officialâ€™s opinion that the governing statute is unconstitutional. As we shall see, it is well established, both in California and elsewhere, that ï£§ subject to a few narrow exceptions that clearly are inapplicable here ï£§ a local executive official does not possess such authority.
A local elected official does not have the right to nullify the law no matter what their personal opinion of that law. Newsome’s clear and evident violation of California law was a travesty, not only in legal terms, but in that he had to have known that this was happening. In other words, he was lying to every gay couple he allowed to be married. That sort of behavior shouldn’t be celebrated by anyone, and this decision makes it quite clear that no mayor is above California law – as it should be.