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California Supreme Court blocks same-sex marriages

SAN FRANCISCO -- The California Supreme Court ordered an immediate halt to gay marriages yesterday in San Francisco, delivering a victory to conservatives who have fought for a month to block the ceremonies.

The court did not rule on the legality of gay marriages, and justices indicated they would decide in the coming months whether San Francisco's mayor had the authority to allow the weddings.

Teary-eyed couples were quickly turned away at San Francisco's City Hall, where more than 3,700 gay couples have tied the knot in the last month.

"We were filling out the application and they told us to stop," said Art Adams, who was the first to be denied as he and partner Devin Baker sought a license. "It's heartbreaking. I don't understand why two people in love should be prevented from expressing it."

The dispute began Feb. 12, when Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered his administration to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

The action by California's highest court came two weeks after state Attorney General Bill Lockyer and a conservative group asked the seven justices to immediately block the gay marriages.

The justices ruled unanimously that Newsom must "refrain from issuing marriage licenses or certificates not authorized" by California marriage laws.

"They restored order to chaos in San Francisco," said Joshua Carden, an attorney with the conservative Alliance Defense Fund. Jon Davidson, an attorney for the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, a gay rights legal aid group, said the ruling puts the issue on hold for now.

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