The California Assembly passed a bill on Tuesday that would allow the state to grant marriage licenses to homosexual couples.
The vote for Assembly Bill 43 (AB 43) led to the longest floor discussion this year, and is being argued by many as not being representative of what California citizens actually want.
AB 43 passed by a 42-34 vote, one more than was required, that went strictly along party lines with Democrats having the majority.
"The arrogant majority in the California legislature have decided that they know better than the people by voting to force AB 43 on California," voiced Karen England, executive director of Capitol Resource Institute (CRI), a California pro-family advocacy group, in a statement. "The people of California clearly decided this issue when they passed Proposition 22. It is outrageous for legislators to waste time and money debating an issue that Californians have decided."
In 2000, Californians had voted to pass Proposition 22. In it, it affirmed that the state would not uphold any same-sex marriages that took place out of state.
Openly gay assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) authored AB 43, however, since the new law did not forbid California itself from issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Under the proposed bill, homosexual couples would gain the same rights and benefits as married heterosexual couples.
"This does in fact provide equal marriage rights for all citizens of California," opened Leno at the start of the floor discussion. "By denying a group of individuals the right to marry, we denigrate that entire group and deny them citizenship."
Several Republicans came up to speak during the 90-minute discussion, each of them asserting the importance of traditional marriage and how the California people had already shown their position by casting Proposition 22. They explained that passing the new bill would only represent the desires of the elected Democrats.
"There ought to be a few standards that stand the test of time, marriage being one of them," said assemblyman Doug La Malfa (R-Chico). "An institution that has lasted thousands of years in one form, that we would change it in the Legislature is pretty arrogant of us."
Pro-family groups have also condemned the actions of those in favor of AB 43 for working through a loophole in past legislation.
"Proponents of the bill argue that Proposition 22 did not apply to homosexual marriages within California-only marriages outside of the state. It is extremely disingenuous of lawmakers to obfuscate this issue with their legal jargon," explained Meredith Turney, legislative liaison for CRI, in a statement. "The people of California understood what they were voting for when they passed Proposition 22, protecting traditional marriage. It is the height of arrogance to overturn the will of the people simply because lawmakers believe they are more enlightened."
Now that AB 43 has passed through the Assembly, it will move onto the Senate where it will need to have a majority vote once again. Only Massachusetts has legalized same-sex marriage so far.
In February, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had already told a group of high school students that he would veto the bill if it passed legislation, much like he did for an almost identical bill passed in 2005. At that time, he wrote that the gay marriage bill would violate Proposition 22.
This vote makes it clear that it is Democrats in the Legislature that are determined to get homosexual marriage enacted any way they can, commented Benjamin Lopez, lobbyist for Traditional Values Coalition (TVC), in a statement. They will go around the ballot box and go around the people of California.
If supporters of same-sex marriage are so confident that the public supports homosexual marriage like they boast and brag, why dont they go to the public directly? added Lopez. They will not do so because they would lose and they know it. So, instead they must resort to liberal legislators and rogue judges to forcibly implement same-sex marriage.
In 2003, California passed a law that recognized domestic partners, giving homosexual couples several but not all benefits that married couples receive.
Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, Maine and Washington have laws that allow either civil unions or domestic partnerships as well. New Hampshire and Oregon recently passed legislation that would add them to the group in January.
AB 43 is the third attempt by Leno during his five years in the Assembly to pass a gay marriage bill.