The California supreme court plans to hear oral arguments May 25 on whether San Francisco's mayor had the authority to issue same-sex marriage licenses. The seven-member court said Wednesday it would devote two hours to the arguments. Under court rules, the justices then must rule within 90 days. The cases brought by Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer and the conservative Alliance Defense Fund focus almost exclusively on whether Mayor Gavin Newsom could issue same-sex marriage licenses by unilaterally declaring that such marriages should be lawful. California law defines marriage as a union between a man and woman. In March the high court ordered that the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples be halted--pending the outcome of the legal challenges--after 4,000 gay and lesbian couples were wed at San Francisco's City Hall.
Lockyer and the conservative group said upholding Newsom's actions would allow other government officials to subvert other laws. The justices this month asked the parties whether the marriages performed should be nullified should the court side against Newsom. Lockyer has taken no position on same-sex marriage but told the justices the marriages should be invalidated because Newsom overstepped his authority. The Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund agreed with Lockyer but has also come out against gay marriage. For his part, Newsom said his interpretation of the California constitution demanded that he allow the issuance of licenses.