- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 7, 2005

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Legislature yesterday became the first legislative body in the country to approve same-sex “marriage,” as homosexual rights advocates overcame two earlier defeats in the Assembly.

The 41-35 vote sends the bill to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had no comment on the bill when it cleared the Senate last week, in what was widely seen as a symbolic vote at the time because of lower house’s earlier rejections.

His office did not immediately respond late last night to a call seeking comment.

Although Mr. Schwarzenegger generally favors homosexual rights and domestic partnerships, he said in a 2003 interview with radio talk-show host Sean Hannity: “I think … marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.”

He also criticized the San Francisco mayor’s issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in February 2004, saying they “fail to meet legal standards.” California voters approved a ballot referendum defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

The bill’s supporters compared the legislation to such earlier campaigns as women’s suffrage and the eradication of slavery.

“Do what we know is in our hearts,” said the bill’s sponsor, San Francisco Democrat Mark Leno, who is homosexual. “Make sure all California families will have the same protection under the law.”

Mr. Leno’s bill had failed in the Assembly by four votes in June, but he was confident he could get it through on a second try after the Senate approved a same-sex “marriage” bill last week.

Democratic Assemblyman Paul Koretz called the opposite-sex definition of marriage “the last frontier of bigotry and discrimination, and it’s time we put an end to it.”

Assemblyman Tom Umberg, a Democrat who abstained when another homosexual “marriage” bill fell four votes short in June, said he was concerned about what his three children would think of him if he didn’t join those “who sought to take a leadership role in terms of tolerance, equality and fairness.”

But opponents repeatedly cited the public’s vote five years ago to approve Proposition 22, an initiative to keep California from recognizing same-sex “marriages” performed in other states or countries.

“History will record that you betrayed your constituents and their moral and ethical values,” Republican Assemblyman Jay La Suer said.

The vote was hailed by homosexual advocates, including Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California, a backer of the bill.

“As the debate today shows, love conquers fear, principle conquers politics and equality conquers injustice, and the governor can now secure his legacy as a true leader by signing this bill,” Mr. Kors said.

California already gives same-sex couples many of the rights and duties of marriage if they register with the state as domestic partners.

Massachusetts’ highest court ruled in November 2003 that the state constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to “marry.” The nation’s first state-sanctioned, same-sex “weddings” began taking place in May 2004.

Vermont began offering civil unions in 2000, after a ruling by the state’s Supreme Court. Earlier this year, Connecticut became the first state to approve civil unions without being forced by the courts.

Regardless of what the governor does, California’s debate over homosexual “marriage” will continue on several fronts.

A state appeals court is considering challenges to a lower court ruling that overturned California laws defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Opponents of same-sex “marriage” are trying to qualify initiatives for the 2006 ballot that would amend the state Constitution.

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