SACRAMENTO, Calif. (BP)–A bill that would legalize “gay marriage” in California is heading to the floor of the state Assembly.
The bill, AB 19, passed the Assembly’s appreciations committee May 25 by a party-line vote of 13-5. All Democrats supported it and all Republicans opposed it.
If it passes the Assembly, it will head to the Senate. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, has not said whether he will sign or veto the bill.
It would be an historic vote in the Assembly. No state legislature has ever voted on a bill legalizing “gay marriage.”
It may have the votes for Assembly passage. Equality California spokesman Eddie Gutierrez told 365Gay.com, “We have very high hopes it will prevail.” The Assembly’s speaker supports it.
But even if becomes law, it is almost certain to face a lawsuit. In 2000 California voters, by a margin of 61-39 percent, passed a law banning “gay marriage.” It was known as Proposition 22, and California’s constitution forbids the legislature from repealing a voter-approved initiative.
Supporters of the bill assert that Proposition 22 only banned “gay marriages” from out of state and did nothing to prevent its legalization within the state. If the bill passes, they say, California would issue licenses to homosexual couples but would not recognize “gay marriages” from Massachusetts.
Conservative leaders call such logic ridiculous. They point to the text of Proposition 22, which states that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”
In addition to the bill, a lawsuit that would legalize “gay marriage” is making its way through state court. One judge already has ruled that Proposition 22 violates the state constitution.
“It’s outrageous that politicians and judges are attacking marriage in utter violation of the people’s vote to protect marriage five years ago,” Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families, said in a statement. “Ever since the voters demanded that marriage stay between a man and a woman, these out-of-touch politicians and judges have ignored the people’s vote.”
Thomasson soon will lead a petition drive to place an amendment banning “gay marriage” in California’s constitution. If successful, the amendment would go before voters in 2006. The group has launched a website — www.voteyesmarriage.com.
MASS. COURT REJECTS CHALLENGE — Massachusetts’ highest court, the Supreme Judicial Court, declined May 27 to halt “gay marriages” in that state, handing pro-family groups another loss in the ongoing battle there. Several pro-family groups had filed suit, asking the court to halt the “marriages” until citizens vote on a constitutional marriage amendment.
The court’s ruling came less than one month after it heard oral arguments May 2.
The court issued its historic ruling in November 2003 legalizing “gay marriage,” and it went into effect in May of 2004. In the weeks leading up to that May date, Catholic Action League Executive Director C. Joseph Doyle asked a single justice on the court to stay the ruling, pending the outcome of the amendment process. Doyle lost in that instance but his case was allowed to proceed.
“To the extent that Doyle is now attempting to shift focus and expand the limited scope of the appeal by asking the full court to ‘stay’ the judgment — effectively, to recall and amend our rescript and vacate the judgment that has already been entered — we decline to do so,” the court wrote. “We previously denied his request for a further stay of entry of the judgment before the judgment entered in the Superior Court. Nothing has transpired in the interim that materially changes the situation or which warrants the truly extraordinary measures sought now.”
An amendment that would ban “gay marriage” while legalizing civil unions is before the state legislature. It must pass the legislature before going to voters, which would be in 2006.
KY. AMENDMENT UPHELD — A Kentucky state judge May 26 upheld that state’s constitutional marriage amendment, which passed last November by a margin of 75-25 percent. The amendment protects the traditional definition of marriage by banning both “gay marriage” and civil unions.
Opponents had argued the ballot language was unconstitutional because it failed to tell voters the amendment banned more than “gay marriage.” Opponents also asserted that the amendment addressed two separate issues, which is forbidden by the state constitution. Crittenden, though, said the issues of “gay marriage” and civil unions are related.
“It cannot be said that the second clause of the amendment pertaining to legal status ‘identical to or similar to marriage for unmarried individuals’ is so foreign that it has no bearing upon a constitutional definition of marriage,” Crittenden said. “Nor can this court conclude that the two clauses of the Amendment at issue are essentially unrelated to one another.”
The pro-family legal group Alliance Defense Fund defended the amendment in court. ADF represented The Family Foundation and a state senator.
“Those trying to stop Kentucky’s marriage amendment were desperate to evade the democratic process, but the court upheld the will of the people,” ADF’s Glen Lavy said in a statement.
CHANGE OF HEART IN TEXAS — A last-minute change of heart by a state senator in Texas allowed a constitutional marriage amendment to squeak through the senate May 21, The Brownsville Herald reported. The amendment passed by a vote of 21-8 — the minimum support needed for passage. It will go before voters Nov. 8.
State Sen. Eddie Lucio, a Democrat, supported the bill but voted against it in committee. He also had signed a letter along with 10 other senators saying he opposed it. If the group of 11 had held together, the amendment would have lost.
But following Lucio’s vote in committee, his office phone started ringing. Constituents back in Brownsville — including leaders in the Catholic Church — weren’t happy. Lucio, who is Catholic, reconsidered.
“It wasn’t a hard vote for me,” he told The Herald, referring to the final vote on the senate floor. “It wasn’t even hard to change, to tell you the truth.”
Lucio said he opposes “gay marriage” and believes homosexuality is “unnatural.” Most Democrats voted against the amendment.
BUMPER STICKERS, YARD SIGNS — The group that first launched the federal marriage amendment is now selling bumper stickers, yard signs, T-shirts and other items promoting a constitutional amendment. The group, Alliance for Marriage, has teamed up with Spalding Group to launch a website — www.afmstore.com. The products include AFM’s name and read, “Protect Marriage, One Man One Woman.”
In addition, one million bumper stickers are being given away. They include AFM’s logo and Web address (www.allianceformarriage.org).
“It is difficult to create a grassroots movement without materials that allow people to publicly identify with the issue,” Ted Jackson, president and founder of Spalding Group, said in a statement. “In joining with AFM we are responding to our network of conservative voters that are asking us for items that reflect support for the protection of traditional marriage.”
For more information about the national debate over “gay marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage