- The Washington Times - Monday, August 18, 2003

A California family-values group is decrying Gov. Gray Davis’ recent promise to sign a domestic-partnership bill that they say is “gay marriage by another name.”

Mr. Davis, who is facing an unprecedented recall vote, said Saturday he would sign AB 205, a bill that would “extend the rights and duties of marriage to persons registered as domestic partners” in California.

Homosexual-rights advocates praised the bill as comparable to Vermont’s landmark civil-union law.

However, Randy Thomasson, executive director of the conservative Campaign for California Families, denounced the bill as an affront to most voters and predicted that, if enacted, it would be challenged in court.

In 2000, more than 61 percent of California voters approved Proposition 22, which said “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California,” he said.

If Mr. Davis signs the domestic-partnership bill, he will be “turning marriage and the people’s vote upside down in a desperate attempt to save his political skin by appealing to liberal activists,” Mr. Thomasson said.

The bill would give same-sex and elderly unmarried couples marriage like rights in areas such as filing state income taxes, adoption, community property, child custody, child support, debt-sharing and alimony after separation.

Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, Los Angeles Democrat and a lesbian, is one of the co-authors of the bill, which passed the Assembly in June with 41 votes, the minimum for passage.

Yesterday, AB 205 was one of 200 bills scheduled for a hearing before the California Senate Appropriations Committee. It was expected to pass, Senate committee aides said, and go to the full Senate for a vote as early as this week.

On Saturday, Mr. Davis said he would sign the domestic-partnership bill “to continue the progress we’ve made toward ensuring fairness for all Californians.” He added that he has been advised by legal counsel that AB 205 does not violate Proposition 22.

There are around 20,000 registered domestic partners in California, according to Equality California, a homosexual-rights group that supports the bill.

Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante said in May he supported the bill.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger, who many view as the front-runner to replace Mr. Davis if he is recalled, has not indicated his view on the domestic-partnership bill.

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