Bill AB-19 reactivated as Bill AB 849: "Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act."
Bill AB 19, the "Religious Freedom
and Civil Marriage Protection Act" was passed by the Assembly's Judiciary
and Appropriations Committees. However, the bill died on 2005-JUN-02, after failing to obtain a majority. Several
Democrats either voted against the bill or abstained. It would have extended
marriage to same-sex couples. The bill was later reactivated as Bill AB 849.
It was passed by the legislature, but vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger.
Bill is passed by the Committee:
On 2005-AUG-25, it was passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee by a
vote of 7 to 4. The nearest precedence occurred in 1948 -- almost six decades
ago -- when the California legislature voted to allow inter-racial couples to
Senator Dean Florez, Democrat, joined three committee Republicans to
vote against the bill. Assemblyman Mark Leno, said: "Allowing same-sex
couples to access one another's health care plans, make joint medical
decisions, inherit one another's property, file joint tax returns, and
provide for their children without fear of them falling into foster care
should one partner pass away is not only humane but fiscally prudent....I'm
grateful that a majority of my colleagues in the Senate Appropriations
Committee has taken a principled stand against discrimination and in favor
of allowing same-sex couples who want to devote their lives to one another."
Randy Thomasson, president of the Campaign for Children and Families
(CCF) -- an organization that opposes equity for same-sex
families -- said:"We call upon Governor Schwarzenegger to
announce that he will veto this anti- marriage,
anti-voter bill...It's high time for
the 'Terminator' to tell California
families where he stands on AB849." 1 In a CCF press release, he stated:"This
homosexual 'marriage' license bill attacks what God created and the people
have affirmed -- that the sacred institution of marriage is for one man and
one woman." 2
Geoffrey Kors, the executive director of Equality California
-- an organization
that promotes equity for all families --
is hopeful that the governor would sign the legislation if it is
passed by the Legislature. He said: "The governor has been consistent in
saying he's fine with same-sex marriage
if the courts and the people rule, he will support it. The legislature is
the people's body, and so hopefully he will sign it."
1 Their web site calls
same-sex marriage: "a fundamental civil rights issue....This is about
equality -- nothing more, nothing less." 2
Bill is passed by the state Senate and Assembly:
On 2005-SEP-01, It was passed by a vote of 21 to 15 in the state Senate. This
event made history, as the first legislative body in the U.S. to pass a bill to
legalize same-sex marriage without having first been ordered to do so by a
Senator Liz Figueroa (D), one of the bill's sponsors, said: "Equality is
equality, period. When I leave this Legislature I want to be able to tell my
grandchildren I stood up for dignity and rights for all."
Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth, (R-San Diego) disagreed. He said: "We should protect
traditional marriage and hold all of those values and institutions that have
made our society and keep our society together today."
Assemblyman Mark Leno (D) said: "Today
represents another milestone toward the fulfillment of the American dream
for thousands of lesbian and gay couples in California. Society is strongest
when it upholds the basic civil rights of all its citizens, including the
right to marry the person you love. I'm grateful that a majority of my
colleagues stood up against discrimination and in favor of allowing same-sex
couples who want to devote their lives to one another, raise families, and
protect themselves and their children with the same rights and
responsibilities as different-sex couples with the same goals and dreams."
Sen. Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks) said that: "Marriage is
fundamentally different from a civil contract. It's the way we bring new
life into the world... [It is a] natural institution [which] we've done a
lot to undermine....This is another move down that path." 5
Geoffrey Kors of Equality California said: "Today is an
unforgettable moment in California history that marks the courage of brave
legislators and demonstrates the strength of our democracy. The state Senate
of the largest state of the nation just took a bold and giant step in the
direction of equality and respect for all families by voting to end
discrimination against tens of thousands of same-sex couples and their
children. This is an incredibly monumental turning point in the history of a
movement. With over 200 organizations supporting this legislation, we have
demonstrated that marriage equality is a value supported by California's
major civil rights organizations as well as a diverse group of political,
community and religious organizations. We applaud our state Senators for
their leadership and the other members who took a stand for equality by
Senator Nell Soto (D-Ontario) said: "Now is the time to answer for
ourselves, 'what is the right thing to do?' For me my higher power tells me,
love one another, not judge one another ... that is embedded in my
inspiration. ... let us be judged as a group of tolerance and of hope."
Rabbi Denise Eger of Koi Ami Congregation said: "This is a
historic and wonderful moment for our state and for all people who believe
in the institution of marriage. This bill provides for the freedom of
religious institutions to follow their beliefs while insuring that the state
does not discriminate in issuing [marriage] licenses. We celebrate the
courage of our legislators this day."
Reverend Rick Schlosser of the California Council of Churches said:
"What I like most about this bill is that it guarantees religious freedom.
This bill is about people not being able to impose their religious beliefs
on other and enables me to perform my ministry freely, how God wants me to."
Governor Schwarzenegger's veto:
The Assembly approved the bill 41 to 35 on SEP-06.
However, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) announced on 2005-SEP-07 that he
will veto the bill.
The governor's press secretary, Margita Thompson,
issued a statement saying that: "We cannot
have a system where the people vote and the Legislature derails that vote. Out
of respect for the will of the people, the governor will veto (the bill)."
The "people vote" refers to Proposition 22,
which California voters passed in 2000 by a relatively slim plurality. If the
same proposition were voted on today, it is anyone's guess whether the necessary
11% of voters would switch to an equal-rights position, defeat the proposition,
and not prohibit same-sex marriage. A court overturned Proposition 22 earlier in
2005. The state appeals court is reviewing that ruling.
The legislature could override the governor's veto. But that would require a
two-thirds majority in both the Assembly and Senate. That is currently well out
of reach and will probably remain that way for years.
Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California said: "Clearly he's
pandering to an extreme right wing, which was not how he got elected. He got
elected with record numbers of lesbian and gay voters who had not previously
voted for a Republican, and he sold us out."
Gavin Newsom, mayor of San Francisco said that the governor missed "a
golden opportunity to stand on history and do something that was noble and
appropriate....It disappoints me greatly, and it will disappoint literally
hundreds and hundreds of thousands of San Franciscans, not to mention millions
of people across the country."
Assemblyman Paul Koretz (D) had called bans on gay marriage "the last
frontier of bigotry and discrimination."
Mark Leno (D), author of the bill, said: "The Legislature has done the
hard work of picking up the issue of the day, holding public hearings, having
public debate and making a decision. [A veto] would be an enormous disregard for
the deliberation of both houses and the millions of people who wish him to sign
the bill." Leno has requested a meeting with the Governor, but has not
received a response.
Karen England of the Capitol Resource Institute, which opposed same-sex
marriage, said: "I'm encouraged that the governor is going to stop the
runaway Legislature, and he's going to represent the people. I think Assembly
member Leno wanted to rally everyone on his side and he's done exactly the
opposite. He's forced his agenda on the rest of us. But in California the votes
of the people do matter." 6
On 2005-SEP-28, Governor Schwarzenegger said that
Proposition 22 bars same-sex marriage in California, and that unless the courts
or voters overturned Prop 22, his hands were tied:
"Our administration has done everything it can
to support gay people, gay couples and everything. Put it on the ballot -
maybe they've changed their mind. Because I think the polls are different
today than they maybe were five years ago. It could easily be that they
favor gay marriage in California."
As expected, Governor Schwarzenegger (R) vetoed the
bill on 2005-SEP-29. According to 365gay.com:
"In a brief statement announcing that he had
stroked out the bill the governor said he is supportive of same-sex couples
and noted that California has the strongest domestic partner law in the
"The statement said that if he had signed the bill it would have simply
added 'confusion to a constitutional issue.' Schwarzenegger went on to say,
'If the ban of same-sex marriage is unconstitutional this bill is not
necessary. If the ban is constitutional this bill is ineffective'."
Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), who
authored the bill, said that the veto puts Schwarzenegger on the wrong side of
"In vetoing this bill approved by duly elected
representatives of the people, the Governor has failed his test of
leadership and missed a historic opportunity to stand up for the basic civil
rights of all Californians...He cannot claim to support fair and
equal treatment of gay people and veto the very bill that would have
provided it to them."
Gavin Newsom, mayor of San Francisco, wrote in a
"However, no one is more disappointed than the
tens of thousands of couples and their families that won't have the same
rights and privileges that Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger have been
afforded. This is real. This is about basic, fundamental rights. It's about
laying a foundation of equality for everybody, and he missed a golden
opportunity to stand on history and to do something that is noble and
appropriate. By no means was this a profile in courage. What a wasted moment
for his administration."
Geoffrey Kors, executive director of Equality
"When called upon to take a position on the
civil rights issue of the day, Governor Schwarzenegger decided to block the
doorway to equality....As a result of his veto, hundreds of thousands of
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Californians and their families will
continue to live without equal protection of the law. However, the veto
cannot take away the incredible progress that was achieved when the majority
of California's elected Legislature passed this legislation. History has
shown time and time again that the path to equality, justice and fairness
can be blocked, but ultimately, the door will be opened....The Governor has
simply delayed -- not ended -- the inevitability of marriage equality in
Dr. Delores A. Jacobs, chief executive officer of
The San Diego LGBT Community Center said:
"We are incredibly disappointed that
Governor Schwarzenegger -- who cast himself as a different kind of
politician -- has today shown that he lacks the courage and vision to be a
true leader of our great state. Today, Governor Schwarzenegger failed to act
on an historic opportunity to stand for what is right and fair for hundreds
of thousands of California families.
Schwarzenegger did sign three other bills on
A bill that bans discrimination against gays,
lesbians and the transgender in employment, housing and the delivery of
goods and services.
A bill that allows hundreds of California state
workers who retired prior to January 1, 2005 to take advantage of the
state's Domestic Partnership law.
A bill that makes homes of domestic partners
community property under California divorce law. 7
Christopher Curtis, "Gay marriage bill heads to California's Senate," Gay.com/PlanetOut.com Network, 2005-AUG-30,
Susan Jones, "California Senate Poised to Vote on 'Gay Marriage' Bill," Cybercast News Service. 2005-AUG-31, at: