California Marriage Amendments Fail to Pass in Committees

Just weeks after a bill to legalize same-sex marriage passed the first legislative hurdle, two constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage in California failed to be approved by state legislative committees.

The bills, introduced by Assemblyman Ray Haynes (R-Murrieta) and Senator Bill Morrow (R-Oceanside), would have banned marriage among same-sex couples. The bills would also prohibit civil unions and domestic partnerships, and the legal benefits afforded to these unions.

On Tuesday, hearings were held within the Assembly Judiciary Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss the bills. Both committees ultimately rejected the bills, with legislators voting along party lines- Republicans for and Democrats against the amendments.

California already has a law banning same-sex marriage. In March 2000, voters passed Proposition 22, which states that marriage is between one man and one woman.

Earlier this year, a judge in San Francisco ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Just two weeks ago, a legislative committee approved a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in the state, introduced by Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco).

Supporters of the proposed same-sex marriage bans sought to strengthen Proposition 22 by putting the law into the state constitution. Only then, they said, would the law be protected from activist judges and legislative challenges.

Opponents called the amendments an attempt to write discrimination into the constitution. The amendments would go against a 2003 domestic-partnership law that grants same-sex couples the legal rights and benefits of married couples.

Pro-family groups responded to the defeat on Tuesday. Campaign for Children and Families plans to write a state constitutional amendment and start a petition drive to get the measure on the 2006 ballot.

“The only way to save marriage for a man and a woman is to give it rock-solid protection in the state constitution,” said Randy Thomasson, President of CCF.

“Our organization is writing a true-blue marriage amendment that will honor and protect marriage as it always has been and always should be – for one man and one woman.”