Use the drop-down boxes above to navigate through the Website  
Return to Reasoning List

Here is a link to this page:

Calif. gay lawmakers rejoice at court's marriage decision

Time Zone: EST (New York, Toronto)
Messenger: Nick1234 Sent: 5/15/2008 8:32:54 PM

SACRAMENTO—Both houses of the Legislature were in session considering dozens of bills Thursday morning, but the handful of gay and lesbian lawmakers also found themselves concentrating on another matter.
The California Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage was expected about an hour after the legislative sessions began. When it came, reaction was immediate.

"It appears that we won," Sen. Sheila Kuehl, a Santa Monica Democrat who is gay, announced on the Senate floor moments after the decision became public.

The five gay and lesbian lawmakers celebrated the court's granting of a right that they failed to get written into law in recent years.

Bills that would have defined marriage in California as a union between two people—rather than between a man and a woman—passed the Legislature in 2005 and 2007. Both were vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had said the decision should be made by voters or the courts.

Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, wrote both bills. He said he felt a thrill reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to open Thursday's legislative session, anticipating the court's ruling.

"The words 'with liberty and justice for all' took on a greater meaning," he said. "I feel included in that 'all' in a new way. It's a joyful moment for all the couples who feel their love is equal to anyone else's love."

Leno is one of five openly gay California lawmakers, all Democrats—three in the Senate



and two in the Assembly.
New Hampshire has the largest legislative gay caucus, with seven, while Washington state has six, according to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a Washington, D.C.-based political action committee. Like California, there are five gay lawmakers in Connecticut and Vermont.

"It certainly obliterates old legal biases and gives birth to a new day of equity," said state Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco.

She is battling Leno for the support of San Francisco's gay community as both run for the same Senate seat in the June 3 Democratic primary election.

While celebrated by most Democrats, Thursday's ruling exposed an ideological divide between the parties. Several Republican lawmakers spoke out against the ruling or denounced it in written news releases.

They expressed anger that the high court overruled Proposition 22, the initiative passed by 61 percent of California voters in 2000. It said the state would recognize only marriages between a man and a woman.

After its 4-3 decision, the court ordered county clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 30 days.

"Voters become really discouraged if they vote on an issue and have a handful of judges toss out their decision," said Assemblyman Doug LaMalfa, R-Willows. "I've had them tell me, 'Why bother to vote? The courts just throw out what we do.'"

Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, described the ruling as "a breathtakingly bad decision on two different levels."

He said it overrides the will of the voters and could open the door to other definitions of marriage.

"One could very easily and clearly see the same logic being applied to finding a constitutional right to polygamist relationships and a constitutional right to incestuous relationships," he said.

Assembly Minority Leader Mike Villines, R-Clovis, criticized the court majority for allowing "their own personal partisan views" to thwart the will of California voters.

In a statement, Villines said the ruling will prompt voters to support an initiative proposed for the November ballot. That proposition would amend the state Constitution to prohibit same-sex unions.

If passed, the constitutional amendment would supersede the court's decision.

Return to Reasoning List

Haile Selassie I