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California bill could legalize gay marriage


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California bill could legalize gay marriage

Schwarzenegger plans to veto bill

By Katie Knobloch

Contributing Writer

September 12, 2005

 California became the first state in the nation to pass a bill attempting to legalize same-sex marriage on Sept. 6.

But the bill is only one victory in the nationwide battle over marriage. Both the California State Senate and the Assembly passed the bill, which would make marriage in California gender-neutral, but California is not likely to legally recognize gay marriages soon. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has said he plans to veto the bill.

Kristin Robison, head of activism and public relations for Spectrum Alliance, disagrees with the governor’s decision. She said the governor should not make the decision for people.

“When two people want to get married, I think they should be allowed to get married,†Robison said.

Schwarzenegger’s press secretary, Margita Thompson, said he is acting for the will of the people.

“Five years ago, the matter of same-sex marriage was placed before the people of California,†Thompson said in a statement. “We cannot have a system where the people vote and the Legislature derails that vote.â€

That vote was Proposition 22 — later ruled illegal under the federal constitution — which banned same-sex marriage in California. But in the five years since, public opinion appears to have shifted. A recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found voters evenly split, 46 to 46 percent, on the question of same-sex marriage. The remaining 8 percent are undecided.

The current bill, the “Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act,†aims at ending marriage discrimination in the state of California.

“[L]egal distinctions between heterosexual and same-sex couples relegate lesbian, gay and bisexual Californians to second-class status and constitute an impermissible use of government power to stigmatize same-sex couples and their families with a brand of inferiority,†the authors wrote in the bill.

Supporters of the bill contend that besides ending discrimination, the act would return marriage law in California to its historical state. From 1850 to 1977, the law contained no specifications related to gender.

Even if California begins to recognize same-sex marriage, Louisiana voters still seem adamantly opposed to the idea. In September 2004, Louisiana voters passed a referendum with 78 percent approval that constitutionally banned both same-sex marriages and civil unions in the state of Louisiana. Although the vote was overturned by a Baton Rouge judge, it was later upheld by the Louisiana Supreme Court.

Schwarzenegger plans to veto the bill before the Oct. 9 deadline.

Contact Katie Knobloch at kknobloch@lsureveille.com

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© 2005 LSU Reveille


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