Proposition 8 opponents received permission Tuesday from the California Secretary of State's office to begin collecting petition signatures toward a repeal of the state's same-sex marriage ban.
The initiative would side step the issue of same-sex marriage by making all couples eligible for marriage benefits regardless of their sexual orientation. If approved, the initiative would strike the word "marriage" from all state laws and replace it with the term "domestic partnership."
The measure would also repeal Proposition 8, California's constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
State Attorney General Jerry Brown submitted the official title and summary for the measure on Monday, about a week after the state Supreme Court heard arguments challenging the validity of Proposition 8.
The official and title summary for the measure is as follows:
Substitutes Domestic Partnership for Marriage in California Law. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.
Replaces the term "marriage" with the term "domestic partnership" throughout California law, but preserves the rights provided in marriage. Applies equally to all couples, regardless of sexual orientation. Repeals the provision in California’s Constitution that states only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.
The proponents of the measure are two Southern California college students, Kaelan Housewright and Ali Shams. They must collect around 695,000 signatures, or 8 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2006 gubernatorial election, by August 6 in order to qualify for the 2010 ballot.
During last week's hearing on Proposition 8, the state Supreme Court justices indicated they would not invalidate the measure, which was approve statewide by 52 percent of voters in November. Two justices were deeply skeptical of arguments from gay rights' lawyers that the measure was an improper constitutional revision, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The High Court, however, indicated it would uphold the 18,000 same-sex marriages that took place during the four months the unions were legal in the state.
A new poll released Tuesday shows that same-sex marriage remains a divisive issue in the state. Among respondents to the Field Poll, 48 percent say they would vote in favor of a constitutional amendment to allow same-sex marriages, with 47 percent opposing and 5 percent undecided.
Frank Schubert, the Yes on 8 campaign manager, told the San Francisco Chronicle that eliminating marriage for everyone was "fundamentally a dumb idea" and unlikely to gain broad public support.