2999California Legislature Becomes First in U.S. to OK Same-sex Marriage
- Sep 8, 2005Note this update of story below:
California Governor to Veto Bill Authorizing Same-Sex Marriage
By John Pomfret
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 8, 2005; A04
California Legislature Becomes First in U.S. to OK Same-sex Marriage
By Robert Marus
September 7, 2005
Associated Baptist Press
WASHINGTON (ABP) -- With a State Assembly vote Sept. 6, California
became the first state in the nation to give legislative approval to
full marriage rights for same-sex couples.
The 41-35 vote in the state legislature's lower chamber came six days
after the bill passed the California Senate, and only five years after
the state's voters effectively banned gay marriage through a popular
The advance for the gay-rights movement may be short-lived, however,
since Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has reportedly hinted that he may
veto the bill, despite his history of support for gay causes.
If Schwarzenegger declines to veto the bill, California would become
the first jurisdiction in the United States to legalize gay marriages
without being forced to do so by courts.
The bill, known as the "Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage
Protection Act," would remove gender-specific references from the
state codes defining marriage. The act also contains provisions
explicitly stating that institutions or clergy would not be forced to
perform marriages of which they did not approve.
"Today in California, love conquered fear, principle conquered
politics, and equality conquered injustice," said Geoffrey Kors, head
of the gay-rights group Equality California, in a statement released
shortly after the vote. "For the first time in our nation's history,
the people's elected representatives have taken a stand to protect all
families and ensure equality for all."
But the bill's legislative opponents -- all of the Assembly's
Republicans and a handful of Democrats -- said it is a dangerous
"Marriage should be between a man and a woman, end of story. Next
issue," Assemblyman Dennis Mountjoy (R-Monrovia) said during floor
debate on the proposal. "It's not about civil rights or personal
rights, it's about acceptance. They want to be accepted as normal.
They are not normal."
Mountjoy and other opponents of the bill pointed out that in 2000,
Californians approved Proposition 22 with a 62 percent majority. That
referendum defined marriage exclusively in heterosexual terms for the
"This highjacking of democracy is utterly inappropriate, as this issue
deals with what is best for our children and the future of the state
of California," read a press release from Tony Perkins, director of
the Washington-based Family Research Council, a conservative group.
"We urge Gov. Schwarzenegger to give the people back their voice and
either put this issue, once again, before the people -- or veto the
But Kors and other gay-rights supporters cited a recently released
poll that suggests California's likely voters are now evenly divided
-- with 46 percent on each side -- over the legalization of same-sex
Schwarzenegger, who in 2003 won the governorship in the heavily
Democratic state on a platform of social liberalism and fiscal
conservatism, is now facing the lowest approval ratings of his tenure.
He has until Oct. 6 to sign or veto the bill, or let it go into effect
without his signature.
Massachusetts legislators were forced to legalize same-sex marriage in
2003, after that state's highest court said denying marriage rights to
gay couples violated the Massachusetts Constitution.
Conservative groups have decried such actions as "judicial activism,"
saying such social policies should be approved through legislative
processes rather than judges' decrees.
In recent years, legislators in other states -- including Vermont and
Connecticut -- have approved "civil unions" for same-sex couples. Such
arrangements provide many of the rights and responsibilities of the
institution while reserving the term "marriage" exclusively for