Pro-family groups are denouncing a new California bill passed by the state senate Friday that grants marriage licenses to homosexual couples.
The bill, AB43, was passed by a vote 22-15 and seeks to replace the words "a man and a woman" with any "two persons" in California's marriage laws.
Homosexual assemblyman Mark Leno proposed the legislation, which is his third effort to pass what he calls a "gender-neutral marriage bill," according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
"We see AB43 as yet another heavy-handed, blatant attempt for Mark Leno and company to skirt the current restrictions in law that prevents same-sex marriages in California," said Benjamin Lopez, a lobbyist for the Traditional Values Coalition, according to SF Chronicle.
The bill now heads to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk for approval.
Schwarzenegger has been ambiguous during previous questioning on the issue. He suggested that the term "marriage" can be eliminated because registered "domestic partners" already have all the same legal rights, benefits, duties and obligations as married couples. However, the governor also vetoed a similar bill in 2005.
"Marriage is more than just a civil contract … it is different from domestic partners, it's just different than civil unions – it means something," acknowledged state Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), who presented the bill and was also the first openly gay person to be elected to the Legislature, according to the San Francisco Chronicles.
"And because it means something, that's why it's been denied to us."
California would be the second state to legalize same-sex "marriage," after Massachusetts, if the bill is signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger.
Yet pro-family groups expressed more concern over next year's California Supreme Court's ruling on granting state-wide homosexual "marriage" licenses. The court's approval of same-sex "marriage" would override the people's 2000 vote to protect traditional marriage.
In 2000, 62 percent of voters passed a constitutional amendment, Proposition 22, that states "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."
Traditional marriage supporters, including conservative group Focus on the Family, have urged believers to call Schwarzenegger's office to urge him to veto the bill.
"Time is running out for generous souls to leave the legacy of marriage to future generations through the VoteYesMarriage.com amendment," said Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families (CCF) and one of the drive's organizers, in a statement.
The VoteYesMarriage initiative gives California voters the right and ability to override the judges and politicians in the decision to protect marriage as between a man and a woman.
"If we don't rescue marriage now, marriage for a man and a woman can easily be destroyed in the law. But our democracy is founded on government of the people, by the people, and for the people," Thomasson said. "It's time for the people to rise up to protect marriage rights once and for all for one man and one woman.
In Friday's vote, all Republican senators had opposed AB 43 while all but three Democrat senators supported it.