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Calif. court: Legislature can’t legalize ‘gay marriage’ without public’s OK

SAN FRANCISCO (BP)–A California court April 4 upheld the state’s domestic partnership law but also gave conservatives some good news, concluding that the legislature is prohibited from legalizing same-sex “marriage” without first taking the issue to the public.

The ruling initially was thought to be a solid win for homosexual activists. The California Court of Appeal ruled that the domestic partnership law does not violate Proposition 22 — the voter-approved ban on same-sex “marriage.”

But on page 12 of the 26-page ruling, the court also included a passage that at first went unnoticed, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

“Without submitting the matter to the voters, the Legislature cannot change this absolute refusal to recognize marriages between persons of the same sex,” the three-judge panel, seated in Sacramento, wrote.

The court’s conclusion is significant because the California legislature currently is considering a bill that would legalize “gay marriage.” California voters approved Proposition 22 in 2000 by a margin of 61-39 percent.

Conservatives and traditionalists will use the ruling in arguing against the bill’s passage. And if a same-sex “marriage” bill is signed into law, they could use the ruling in a suit to prevent the law from taking effect. The ruling would be binding on lower courts.

“In California, if the people pass an initiative, the legislature cannot trump it. That’s in the California Constitution,” Glen Lavy, an attorney with the pro-family group Alliance Defense Fund, told Baptist Press.

“It is very good that the court said this, because it’s getting the attention of some people out there who seem to think the legislature can do whatever it wants.”

California’s domestic partnership law went into effect this year and provides same-sex couples with nearly all of the state legal benefits of marriage. Pro-family groups filed suit, arguing that the law violates Proposition 22. But so far two courts have disagreed; the latest ruling is being appealed to the California Supreme Court.

The court’s reference to same-sex “marriage” was a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing ruling.

Mark Leno, the openly homosexual assemblyman pushing the bill, disagreed that the public must have a say. His bill is scheduled to be heard by the judiciary committee April 26, the Chronicle reported.

“It’s one opinion,” he told the newspaper. “It’s part of the scenery along the path we have to travel.”

Leno has argued that Proposition 22 only prevents California from recognizing out-of-state “gay marriages” but does not prevent their legalization in-state — an assertion that conservative attorneys have labeled ridiculous.

Proposition 22 states: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

“‘Valid’ refers to what is within the state, and ‘recognized’ refers to out of state,” Lavy told the Chronicle.

The appeals court, in fact, sided with conservatives on that specific issue. It ruled that Proposition 22 ensures that “California will not permit same-sex partners to validly marry within the state.”

The Alliance Defense Fund is representing the Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund. Another pro-family legal group, Liberty Counsel, is representing Campaign for California Families.

Meanwhile, the California chapter of the NAACP has announced its support for the “gay marriage” bill. It is the first time that a chapter of the NAACP has backed the issue. Polls show that a majority of blacks nationwide oppose same-sex “marriage,” and many black leaders have taken offense at the comparison between the struggle for civil rights and the fight for homosexual causes.

But the issue in California may not be decided by the legislature or the people. In March a state judge ruled that same-sex “marriage” must be legalized. The ruling is on appeal.
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage.

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  • Michael Foust