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Supreme Court of the United States

Lewis v. Alfaro | Lockyer v. City and County of San Francisco

Last Updated: 5/29/2020

Overview

What's at stake

  • Affirming marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
  • Promoting the importance of both mothers and fathers.
  • Protecting the voters’ rights to direct social policy concerning marriage and family.

Summary

In clear violation of California’s marriage laws, San Francisco’s mayor and the director of the county clerk’s office issued around 4,000 marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Alliance Defending Freedom and its allies came to marriage’s defense in California by filing a lawsuit (Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund v. City and County of San Francisco) on behalf of the entity that had been established to codify California’s longstanding practice of man-woman marriage, against San Francisco. The suit asked a state trial court to order San Francisco officials to do their jobs and follow California’s marriage laws even if they didn’t agree with them. Unfortunately, the trial court responded by scheduling a hearing that would not take place for about six weeks.

Realizing the importance of the issue and that time was of the essence, Alliance Defending Freedom and its allies filed a direct action with the California Supreme Court on behalf of three San Francisco residents against the City and County of San Francisco. The State Attorney General eventually also filed suit against San Francisco and the cases were consolidated. Alliance Defending Freedom and its allies explained that San Francisco officials had no authority to ignore the state’s marriage laws simply because they did not like them. The California Supreme Court agreed and ruled that local officials had no authority to violate California’s marriage laws. They had to “act within the constraints of our constitutional system, not … disregard presumptively valid statutes” based on their own views of what the California Constitution means. The Court ordered the mayor and clerk to follow the law and notify the same-sex couples involved that the marriage licenses they had been issued were never valid and were without any legal effect.

Alliance Defending Freedom and its allies defended marriage in California and continue efforts to support the natural family throughout the nation.

Our role in this case

Alliance Defending Freedom filed suit to stop San Francisco officials from issuing same-sex marriage licenses in violation of California law free of charge.

Resources

Legal Documents

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