Marriage in California

Unfortunately, the Governor vetoed an almost-identical version of this bill (below) last year, and there is no indication that he will do otherwise this year. But it is important that the legislature keep passing this legislation and putting it in the Governor’s face and making him make the decision to turn us down. It is also important that there is such a broad base of support for the bill, and that polls show a continuing growth of support for marriage equality.

Thanks to Assemblyman Mark Leno, and to Equality California for their ongoing, hard work!

ASSEMBLY JUDICIARY COMMITTEE OVERWHELMINGLY PASSES BILL SUPPORTING MARRIAGE FOR SAME-SEX COUPLES

Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, Authored by Assemblymember Leno and Sponsored by EQCA, Gives All Couples the Right to Marry

Sacramento – Members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Tuesday passed AB 43, legislation giving same-sex couples the choice to marry in California. Authored by Assemblymember Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, and sponsored by Equality California, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection gives all couples the social support and legal protections that only marriage provides. The bill passed the committee with a 6-3 vote.

“Two people in a committed, trusting relationship deserve the honor and social support that comes with marriage,” said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors. “Denying someone the opportunity to marry the person he or she loves hurts couples and families that are dedicated to building their lives together. It is time to move forward as a state and let all loving and committed couples who want the responsibilities of marriage to get married.”

Lawmakers passed a nearly identical bill, AB 849, also authored by Assemblymember Leno, in 2005, becoming the first legislative body in the nation to approve a measure allowing same-sex couples to marry. Like its predecessor, AB 43 protects religious freedom by reaffirming that no religious institution would be required to solemnize marriages contrary to its fundamental beliefs.

“Our march toward marriage equality continues with another victory today,” said Assemblymember Leno. “We will not stop until all citizens are afforded their constitutional right to marry the person they love and raise their families with the respect, dignity and validation which are their birthright.”

California law allows same-sex couples to register as domestic partners, which gives them many state protections. However, domestic partnership remains a separate institution from marriage and shuts out same-sex couples from the universal recognition and consideration married couples enjoy. A separate system for same-sex couples leaves them without critical support systems that would benefit them in older age, upon illness or disability and in times of crisis.

Dr. Kate O’Hanlan, a practicing surgeon and health researcher from Portola Valley, presented peer-reviewed scientific literature and consensus statements from the nation’s top scientific and health organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Health experts and these organizations agree that excluding same-sex couples from marriage hurts LGBT people and their families because treating a certain group of people differently creates social isolation and victimization, alienates them from health, family and social support systems, and perpetuates inaccurate stereotypes.
 
“Medical science is unambiguous and unanimous in endorsing absolute equality for same-sex couples, including access to civil marriage,” Dr. O’Hanlan said. “The nation’s experts in child health, mental health, psychological health, women’s health and family health have reviewed the research and issued policy statements endorsing equal access to civil marriage because it would improve mental and physical health of America’s families, and harm no one.”

AB 43 is co-authored by 29 assemblymembers and 14 senators, including Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez and Speaker Pro Tem Don Perata. A diverse coalition of religious and civil rights organizations and leaders support the bill, including the California Conference of the NAACP, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, United Farm Workers, Chinese for Affirmative Action, Asian Law Caucus, California Council of Churches/Church IMPACT, California NOW, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, American Civil Liberties Union, California Teachers Association, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Service Employees International Union, People for the American Way, National Black Justice Coalition, Gray Panthers, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, Equal Rights Advocates and the California Nurses Association.

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