California will try to legalize same-sex marriage
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California, a trendsetting lawmaker in progressive U.S. politics and a state where the current governor once made news for issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in San Francisco before it was legal, will try to enshrine marriage equality in the state constitution.
The effort comes 15 years after a voter-approved initiative, Proposition 8, barred the state from recognizing same-sex marriages. In 2013, the US Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California. However, the constitutional amendment is still in effect, worrying advocates who believe the High Court may revisit the 2015 case that legalized gay marriage nationwide.
“It’s absolute poison, it’s so destructive and degrading that it’s in our constitution,” said Scott Wiener, a state senator who represents San Francisco.
Wiener and Assemblyman Evan Lowe of Silicon Valley, both Democrats and members of California’s LGBTQ legislative caucus, introduced legislation Tuesday to repeal Proposition 8. The measure must be approved by a two-thirds vote in the Legislature before it will ultimately decide voters through a referendum.
Days before Proposition 8 was approved, Lowe joined opponents of the measure outside his alma mater, De Anza College, in Cupertino, California, to urge voters to reject the initiative. When it went through, Lowe, who is gay, felt personal.
“Why do Californians hate me?” he said. “Why do they think my rights should be taken away?”
California can follow in the footsteps of Nevada, which in 2020 became the first state amend the constitution to guarantee the right to same-sex marriage. The case took on new urgency last year when the US Supreme Court overturned the right to abortion established by Roe v. Wade. At the time, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas questioned other prominent cases and urged the court to reconsider them. His list included Obergefell v. Hodges, which forced states to issue and recognize same-sex marriages.
“In future cases, we must revisit all of this Court’s significant due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell,” Thomas wrote, citing two other landmark cases involving access to birth control and the decision to strike down anti-gay laws. sexual relations. activity.
President Joe Biden signed the law into law in December Respect for Marriage Actwhich requires states to recognize same-sex marriages, but the legislation does not force states to allow them if Obergefell is overturned.
Wiener and Lowe, two California lawmakers, hope to replicate the process that saw states vote in November approved the constitutional changes guarantee of the right to abortion.
Jeremy Yancey and Fabio de Andrade, who were married Tuesday at San Francisco City Hall’s Valentine’s Day celebration, said repealing Proposition 8 is overdue.
“The time has come. Protecting our human rights is very important,” Yancey said. “This should have happened years ago.”
Assemblyman Greg Wallis, a Republican who represents part of San Bernadino County, said in a statement that he was proud to co-sponsor the legislation.
“The reality is that marriage is a contract and an obligation between any two people in love, and it’s time we made that clear,” Wallis said.
The road to marriage equality in the Golden State has been bumpy. In 2000 voters approved the charter that banned the recognition of same-sex marriages, a measure that was overturned by the courts. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat who became mayor of San Francisco in 2004, issued marriages in the city to same-sex couples in a move that defied the law and went against the views then held by many in his party. In 2005, California’s legislature outpaced all states in passing a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. But then-Gov. Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it.
Support for marriage equality has grown rapidly since the Obergefell ruling. While Mormon groups helped fund the Proposition 8 campaign in California, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came out in support Law on Respect for Marriage.
Tony Hoang, executive director of Equality California, is optimistic that the group can help build a larger coalition in support of the proposed amendment.
“I know it’s going to be a bipartisan campaign,” he said.
Associated Press reporter Terry Chea in Fremont, Calif., contributed to this report.
Sophie Austin is a member of the Associated Press Corporation/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to cover underreported issues. Follow Austin on Twitter: @sophieadanna