- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 4, 2005

The California Assembly has defeated a bill to make marriage “gender neutral,” dashing hopes among homosexual-rights groups that lawmakers in the nation’s most populous state would become the first to legalize same-sex “marriage” without a court order.

On Thursday, the last of three votes on the “marriage equality” bill — AB 19 — fell four votes short of the 41 needed to pass the Assembly.

The bill, pushed by openly homosexual San Francisco Assemblyman Mark Leno and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, would have defined marriage in California as a civil contract between “two persons” instead of “a man and a woman.”

Conservatives cheered the bill’s demise, but warned that “more attacks” on traditional marriage are coming.

Californians must pass “a true-blue state constitutional amendment” to protect marriage from politicians and judges, said Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families.

But Geoffrey Kors, executive director of Equality California, said homosexual-rights advocates should be pleased that the Assembly vote, while disappointing, was “the farthest” a same-sex “marriage” bill had ever gotten in a state legislature without court-ordered action. His group was one of 200 that supported the Leno bill.

Republicans and their allies had argued that the bill contradicted Proposition 22, a ballot measure passed by voters in 2000 that says only marriage between one man and one woman is valid or recognized in California.

Their position seemed to be buttressed by a California Court of Appeal ruling in April.

The appellate court, which ruled that the state’s new domestic-partnership law was legal under Proposition 22, also noted that “[w]ithout submitting the matter to the voters, the Legislature cannot change this absolute refusal to recognize marriages between persons of the same sex.”

An undaunted Mr. Leno said Thursday that the same-sex “marriage” issue was not over.

“Gay and lesbian couples are not going to disappear as of tonight,” he said.

However, they will continue to face some tough opposition.

A group called the Voters’ Right to Protect Marriage Initiative plans a petition drive next month to put a marriage amendment before voters in 2006. The group will need to collect more than 1 million signatures in five months.

The proposed marriage amendment defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman and repeals some of the rights unmarried couples are now allowed under California’s domestic-partnership law.

Homosexual-rights groups such as the Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force have announced a campaign to raise $1 million to defeat the proposed amendment.

The American Civil Liberties Union also is creating a public education campaign to convince Americans nationwide that it is unfair to deny legal protections to same-sex couples and their families.

Meanwhile, a landmark lawsuit to determine the constitutionality of same-sex “marriage” is wending through the state’s courts.

In March, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer ruled that it was unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples “marriage” licenses.

Last week, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said he would appeal the ruling.

The case, which combines four lawsuits, is likely to end up before the California Supreme Court.

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