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California is one of the states in the U.S. in which individual citizens can create an petition to change the laws or the constitution of the state. If they are able to collect a sufficient number of signatures, then their initiative is placed on the next regular ballot. If passed, the petition becomes law.

There are two initiatives currently active in California.

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Anti same-sex marriage (or pro-special marriage rights for heterosexuals)

Proposition 22 (the Knight initiative) will be voted upon on the 2000-MAR ballot. It would restrict marriage as only between a man and a woman. Their goal is to be proactive. In the event that another state legalizes gay and lesbian marriages, the organizers believe that this initiative would prevent such marriages from being recognized in California. There exists a "full faith and credit" clause in the U.S. Constitution which requires, among other things, states to recognize each other's marriages. It is not clear whether Proposition 22 would override this measure. "Many legal scholars believe other states would be required by the U.S. Constitution to recognize a gay marriage from another state, just as California now recognizes marriages between legal minors from some Southern states." The initiative has received heavy financial support by Mormons and other conservative Christians.

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Pro same-sex marriage (or pro-equal marriage rights for all)

Two gay brothers, Tom and John Henning, have organized "Californians for Same Sex Marriage." They hope to obtain 1 million signatures on a ballot initiative to legalize same-sex marriages in California. Only 670,000 are required. However, they are aiming at an even million as a safety factor. Henning said that laws in California currently have 1,500 clauses which grant benefits to married couples. He said: "All that we are asking is that same sex couples, be they gay or lesbian, should have the right to a civil marriage so  that they can enjoy the benefits that heterosexual couples take for granted." 3 

The proposed constitutional amendment reads:
bullet"Two people of  the same sex may lawfully marry in California. Such a marriage  is subject to meet the same legal requirements as other married persons, and they shall have the same legal rights and  obligations as other married persons."
bullet"This section does not require any church, religion or religious organization to perform any marriage ceremony. This section supersedes any California law that prohibits legal marriage between two people of the same sex who meet the legal requirements applicable to other married persons."

They have a petition center from which you can download a one-page petition form. 4 You need a PDF reader program on your computer. It is free and can be downloaded from Adobe.

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  1. Californians for same-sex marriage has a web page at: http://samesexmarriage.org/  
  2. Robert Salladay, "New ballot bid to legalize gay marriages: Some activists fear move will harm fight against Prop. 22," San Francisco Examiner, 1999-NOV-29. Online at: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/ 
  3. at: http://abcnews.go.com/wire/Politics/reuters19991128_43.html 
  4. The petition center is at: http://samesexmarriage.org/petition_retrieve.php3 

Copyright © 1999
Originally written: 1999-DEC-6
Latest update: 1999-DEC-6
Author: B.A. Robinson

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