Senate Passes Marriage Equality Legislation

Written by Jason Scott
LGBT Legislative Caucus, Equality California, And Allies Join Forces to Revive Equal Marriage Rights Legislation for Same-Sex Couples With a 5-2 vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed Equality California-sponsored Assembly Bill (AB) 849, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, authored by Assemblymember Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles), and supported by more than 30 other co-authors. The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act would grant equal marriage rights to same-sex couples and affirm the religious freedom of all Californians.

State Senate Pro Tem Don Perata (D-Oakland) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Joe Dunn (D-Garden Grove) have been working with the LGBT Legislative Caucus to move the bill forward.  The previous marriage bill (AB 19) was narrowly defeated by four votes in the Assembly in early June.  Through a common procedural move, the exact language of the bill was placed into the body of another bill (AB 849) that was moving through the legislature.  The bill now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee after legislators return from summer recess on August 15.  

"I am buoyed by the support of many of my colleagues in the Senate, who are co-authors of the measure, and who believe we can pass this bill this year and move it out of the Assembly and to the Governor's desk this September," stated AB 849's lead author, Assemblymember Mark Leno.  "Because civil rights battles are never won in a day, we must move this issue forward whenever we can. This is the year to do it. We came so close to victory in June. With a few more months to make our case, the LGBT Legislative Caucus believes we will prevail.”

“Civil marriage licenses are a guaranteed protection in California that can no longer be offered to many but denied to some,” said Executive Director Geoffrey Kors of Equality California.  “If one looks back at our nation’s history, we view those who stood for equality as great leaders. We are honored to have so many great leaders who are standing with the LGBT community by supporting this legislation, including organizations such as the California State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the United Farm Workers, the National Organization of Women, and more than 200 organizations who support and work for equality and economic justice for all.”

The Williams Project on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at UCLA School of Law released a research study that analyzes data from Census 2000 to show California has the largest population of same-sex couples in  the country, representing a wide range of economically and culturally diverse communities.  One in four same-sex couples, for example, identify  as Latina/o, representing a large portion of California's gay and lesbian  families and the largest population of Latina/o gay families nationwide.  Census data also indicate that half of all children raised by LGBT parents are Latina/o, African American, and Asian Pacific Islander.

In California, 30 cities and counties have passed resolutions supporting marriage equality.  Most recently, the Los Angeles City Council, representing the second-largest city in the country, unanimously voted to adopt a motion in support of any legislative or administrative action that would create marriage equality for same-sex couples in California.  

SENATE COMMITTEE VOTE
 
4 AYES:
 Dunn, Cedillo, Escutia, Figueroa, Kuehl
 
2 NOES:   Ackerman, Morrow
 
Founded in 1998, Equality California is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots-based, statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to ensure the dignity, safety, equality and civil rights of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians.  Equality California is one of the largest and  fastest growing statewide LGBT organizations in the country. We can be contacted through our website at www.eqca.org

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