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Assembly OKs bill allowing same-sex couples to marry
Lawmakers also vote to return schools to Oakland's control
Mark Martin and Greg Lucas, San Francisco Chronicle Sacramento Bureau
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
(06-06) 04:00 PDT Sacramento -- For the second time in three years, the state Assembly approved legislation Tuesday allowing same-sex marriage in California in a vote that highlighted a continued and profound disagreement among legislative Democrats and Republicans on one of the hot-button social issues of the time.
On a party-line vote, Democrats supported San Francisco Assemblyman Mark Leno's effort to make California the first state in the country to legislatively end the prohibition on gay marriage. The bill advances to the state Senate, but even if it is approved there, it's likely to face a veto from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
A spokesman for the governor said Schwarzenegger has not changed his mind on the issue since 2005, when he rejected a similar bill, arguing that voters had spoken against gay marriage by passing Proposition 22 in 2000.
Tuesday's vote came as the Legislature faces a deadline this week requiring that bills be approved by at least one house. A measure to more quickly end state control of the Oakland Unified School District also was approved by the Assembly.
AB43, which would eliminate references to gender in the state's marriage code, was approved after a two-hour debate on the floor of the Assembly that was far less tense than a harsher and lengthier debate two years ago, when the Legislature made history by becoming the first legislative body in the country to approve gay marriage.
Then, the bill's outcome was in question in the Assembly until a few moderate Democrats finally agreed to vote yes after intense and emotional lobbying from Leno and gay rights groups.
Going into Tuesday's vote, the bill was almost certain to pass -- 43 Democrats had already expressed support for the measure, more than enough needed for approval. The less dramatic vote prompted some Democrats to suggest gay marriage would eventually be allowed, even if Schwarzenegger again vetoes the bill.
"I think I will see this in my lifetime,'' said Assemblyman John Laird, D-Santa Cruz. "I appreciate the fact that we are going to pass this today, and that is just a signal of where history is going.''
In the debate, Republicans accused Democrats of attacking the institution of marriage and ignoring the California voters who overwhelmingly approved Prop. 22.
"The voters spoke pretty loudly and pretty clearly,'' said Assemblyman Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale (Butte County). Several Democrats used personal anecdotes to argue that gay couples should have the right to marry.
Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, noted her daughter, a lesbian in a 17-year-long relationship, would be proud of her vote Tuesday. Laird, who is gay, described the difficulty he and his partner of 11 years have had in making sure their wills and legal papers were synchronized because they don't have the legal right to marry. Leno read a statement from a UC Berkeley student who was raised by two lesbians in support of his measure.
The legislation was approved on a 42-34 vote.
Calif. Assembly OKs Gay Marriage
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
(06-05) 19:49 PDT Sacramento, Calif. (AP) --
The state Assembly voted Tuesday to allow same-sex couples to marry, challenging Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has said he will veto the bill if it passes the full Legislature.
Legislators approved the measure on a party-line vote of 42-34, with the majority saying lawmakers should not to wait for the state Supreme Court to act on the issue.
A debate about California's one man-one woman marriage law of 1977 is likely to be decided this year or early next year by the high court.
The bill now goes to the Senate, which adopted a similar measure in 2005. Schwarzenegger vetoed it.
California in 2003 recognized domestic partners, creating a registry that affords same-sex couples many of the rights given to married couples.
Massachusetts is the only state that allows same-sex couples to marry. Several states have or plan to enact laws allowing either civil unions or domestic partnerships.