In addition, it would add a new section 300 (b): "Where necessary to implement the rights and responsibilities of spouses under the law, gender-specific terms shall be construed to be gender-neutral, except with respect to Section 308.5." 3
These changes would require the state to issue marriage licenses and register the marriages of all qualifying couples, both those of the same-sex and opposite sex. Same-sex couples, and their children, would then be able to marry, have their marriages registered by the state, and receive the full benefits previously restricted to opposite-sex married couples.
A lesbian couple, Lancy Woo and Cristy Chung, the lead plaintiffs in
the San Francisco same-sex marriage lawsuit, testified in favor of the bill. They
have been together for 16 years and have a five year old daughter Olivia.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR)
web site states that: "During her testimony, Cristy talked about the
discrimination faced by her parents because they were an interracial couple,
including opposition from family members and others who opposed their marriage.
'My parents' struggle and the struggle of Lancy and I to get married are not
that different,' Cristy noted. Cristy said she hoped that their daughter would
be able to grow up in a world where there are many families with same-sex
married parents." 4
"Also testifying in support of the bill were Shannon Minter, 'NCLR's' Legal Director, Geoffrey Kors, Executive Director of 'Equality California,' and Assemblymember Jackie Goldberg, the author of A.B. 205." 4
The committee vote:
The bill was passed by the Judiciary Committee by a vote of 8 to 3 on 2004-APR-20:
The vote strictly followed party lines with all Democratic members of the committee voting in favor and all Republican members opposed.
The vote had been expected to be close. The testimony given at the hearing may have influenced some Democrats to switch their vote. Some had previously indicated that they were leaning towards voting against the bill.
Support for, and opposition to, the bill:
According to the National Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Centers, AB 1967 has been endorsed by individual Christian clergy from Disciples of Christ, Lutheran, Presbyterian, United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ denominations. It was endorsed by the Board of Directors of the Northern California/Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ. "In addition, several California cities and counties have either endorsed AB 1967, or supported the concept of marriage equality for same sex couples. Those local governments include; Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and West Hollywood. Finally, it is worth noting that AB 1967 already has one sponsor and 18 cosponsors. That is almost one quarter of the whole Assembly." "7"
On the day before the vote, 40 clergy representing the California Council of Churches and various ministers from congregations associated with the Unitarian Universalist Association, Baptist groups, United Methodist Church, and Metropolitan Community Church had a prayer breakfast at the Capitol. They later lobbied lawmakers in support of Leno's bill. Geoffrey Kors, spokesperson for Equality California, said: "Each and every religion should have the right to determine for themselves what marriages they want to solemnize and the State, in authorizing religious leaders to perform marriages, should recognize the marriages performed by religious leaders regardless of the gender of the individuals involved....When the State refuses to recognize the marriages performed by leaders of certain faiths it is doing nothing less than condoning discrimination against the couples and the religions who married them." "8"
Focus on the Family, a fundamentalist Christian group, stated that: "Pro-family analysts believe the legislation has a decent chance of passing the Assembly and the Senate." "9" (To Focus, a "pro-family analyst" is one who is opposed to the recognition of -- and benefits for -- all families led by same-sex couples).
Geoffrey Kors, Executive Director of Equality California said: "This is an incredible victory not only for California©s lesbian and gay couples and their children but for all people who believe in equal rights. The Committee today voted to return California to the definition of marriage that existed before 1977, when the legislature changed it from a contract between 'two people' to a contract between 'a man and a woman.' That law is the only remaining law in California enacted by this body that affirmatively discriminates against a protected group of Californians." "5"
Karen Holgate, spokesperson for the fundamentalist Christian California Family Council, said the results of the vote were surprising to many observers. She said: "It was quite obvious that the author of the bill had worked very closely with several pro-homosexual groups. The room was packed with same-sex couples...and only about 30 in opposition were there because they did not have the notification that the other side did." Ms Holgate also noted that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) "10" had opposed same-sex marriage during his candidacy. During 2004-MAR. on Jay Leno's "Tonight Show," he said that he opposed a Federal Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which would restrict marriage to one man and one woman. But he indicated that he was open to amending California marriage law.
Randy Thomassaon, executive director of the Campaign for California Families said: "AB 1967 utterly rejects the vote of the people. AB 1967 is corrupt and any legislator who votes for it is corrupt too... [It is] "is illegal, unconstitutional and immoral." Later, he added: "It is strange that the Democrats would risk losing seats in the Legislature over an issue that is so unpopular. Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez is to blame for giving permission for his Democrat colleagues to push for homosexual 'marriage' and reject everybody who believes that marriage is for a man and a woman. Does Nunez want people to understand that voting for Democrats now means voting for homosexual 'marriage'?" " 11 He wrote a guest column for the web site of Good News, etc., a fundamentalist Christian newspaper. It said in part: "AB 1967 would completely destroy the uniqueness of the sacred institution of marriage for a man and a woman. Leno wants to create full-blown homosexual 'marriage,' impose it upon the entire state, and completely overturn the vote of the people that demanded the law protect the natural design of marriage for a man and a woman....Marriage between a man and a woman is basic truth that is self-evident." 12"
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council issued a statement saying, in part: "Should this legislation reach his desk, it will give the Governor the opportunity to show respect for the wishes of an overwhelming majority of Californians who oppose tinkering with marriage. Just as the people came together last year to put Gov. Schwarzenegger into office, they came together in 2000 to protect marriage....If they make a right for any two adults who love each other to 'marry,' they will have opened the door to polygamy, inter-familial relationships, and a whole host of other arrangements of adults who say they love each other. In light of their vote on Prop. 22, I don't think that's the road Californians want to go down." "11"
"Kate Kendell, Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) said: "This is an historic day. This vote demonstrates that our elected officials understand the unfairness of denying an entire class of people hundreds of important rights and responsibilities, and relegating them to second class status."" "10"
Status of bill AB-1967:
The California Assembly's Appropriations Committee considered the bill because it would have financial implications to the state budget. Treating same-sex couples as equivalent to opposite-sex couples would extend to the former benefits currently enjoyed on by the latter. Many of these benefits involve a cost to the state. On May 12, 2004, the Committee placed the bill in suspense, pending the committee©s review of a UCLA study showing that permitting same-sex couples to marry will save the state millions of dollars annually. "14 On 2004-MAY-19, sponsors and supporters of the bill announced that they were pulling the bill from committee consideration in the hopes of building support for it later in 2004. A similar bill was introduced in 2005.
Other pending legislation:
Mark Worrall of the 365Gay.com Newscenter stated on 2004-APR-20 that:
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to 2008, by Ontario Consultants on Religious