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Equality rocks!

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(Sacramento, California) Second time a charm. The California Assembly passed legislation Tuesday night to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Gay and lesbian couples crowded into the legislature early this morning to see the historic vote. It was put off twice during the day when backers did not think they had enough votes. Finally, late Tuesday evening, when it looked as though it could pass the measure was put forward.

The bill passed by the slimmest of margins - one vote.

The Senate passed the bill on a 21 to 15 vote last Thursday. (story)

The measure failed by four votes in the Assembly earlier this year when a quarter of the Democrats voted with Republicans to reject it and a handful abstained from voting. (story)

At that time the legislation was considered dead - at least for the rest of this session. But, Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) - the bill's author and one of six openly gay members of the Legislature - refused to give up.

In a surprise move Leno attached the measure as an amendment to a marine bill that was already in committee in the Senate.

Once the bill and its marriage amendment passed the Senate it was back in play in the Assembly.

"Do what we know is in our hearts," he said. "Make sure all California families will have the same protection under the law," Leno implored the Assembly during the debate.

Assemblyman Paul Koretz, D-West Hollywood, called bans on gay marriage "the last frontier of bigotry and discrimination, and it's time we put an end to it."

Assemblyman Tom Umberg, a Santa Ana Democrat who abstained when another gay marriage bill fell four votes short in June, said he was concerned about what his three children would think of him if he didn't join those "who sought to take a leadership role in terms of tolerance, equality and fairness."

Called the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, the bill would require local clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples but allow people opposed to gay marriage to refuse to conduct weddings.

"Today in California, love conquered fear, principle conquered politics and equality conquered injustice," said Geoffrey Kors, Executive Director of Equality California following 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. We are counting on Governor Schwarzenegger to lift the burden of discrimination from hundreds of thousands of California families by becoming the first governor in the nation to sign legislation ending discrimination against same-sex couples obtaining a civil marriage license. His legacy will in large part be based on whether he signs or vetoes this historic civil rights legislation."

Schwarzenegger has sent mixed signals on the issue of same-sex marriage.

In a January meeting with the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle Schwarzenegger suggested that this may not be the best time to push gay marriage, saying that a legislative push to fully recognize marriage rights for gays might backfire.

"Eventually in a few years from now, you can readdress it again and see what the people of California think,'' he told the paper. "You cannot force-feed those kind of things.''

Last year in a Tonight Show appearance Schwarzenegger said gay marriage would be "fine with me" if it were enshrined in state law or ruled legal by the courts. (story)

The issue of same-sex marriage also is slowly heading toward the California Supreme Court. Last month a San San Francisco judge ruled that state laws preventing gay marriage are illegal. (story)

Meanwhile, a conservative group called the "Voters' Right to Protect Marriage Initiative" has begun collecting signatures to have a proposed amendment to the California Constitution banning same-sex marriage placed on the 2006 ballot. (story) If approved by voters it would not only bar gays and lesbians from marrying but also void the state's landmark domestic partner law.

A new poll, released on the weekend, shows that California voters are equally divided on the issue of same-sex marriage. The Public Policy Institute poll shows that 46 percent are in favor of allowing same-sex couples to marry and 46 percent are opposed.

The result is a slight increase in the number supporting gay marriage over the last poll on the issue, but has given Equality California reason to believe that if the proposed amendment makes it to voters a majority would reject it.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 7th, 2005 03:01 am (UTC)
Sep. 7th, 2005 04:20 am (UTC)
YAY! one state down, only forty-nine to go!
Oct. 28th, 2005 04:12 am (UTC)
Hey. I just saw you on gsa_lj, and I thought.. hmm. He lives in NJ. That makes him cool. lol. So, I guess this is a request for addition.

Nov. 2nd, 2005 02:13 am (UTC)
Works for me hah
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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