The campaign to restore gay marriage in
California has altered course. The campaign has pushed back plans
for a gay marriage referendum originally planned for June 2010; the
group now says voters will decide in November.
Several outlets reported Wednesday that
California Secretary of State Debra Bowen had approved a third
referendum initiative to legalize gay marriage in the state.
The third initiative, however, is not
new. The text of the initiative is nearly identical to the current
petition being circulated by Yes! On Equality, the official sponsor
of the initiative.
“Yes! [On Equality] is no longer
gathering signatures for the first initiative, but will still use
those pages of signatures as contacts for when it's time to continue
gathering signatures,” Brandon Ross, a spokesman for Yes! On
Equality, confirmed to On Top Magazine in an email.
The change means the campaign will
begin from scratch collecting signatures from the 694,354 registered
voters needed to qualify the question. Proponents have 150 days (to
November 19, 2009) to gather the necessary signatures.
Yes! On Equality's measure would
restore gay marriage to California by striking out language from the
state constitution that defines marriage as a heterosexual union.
Last November, after the state Supreme Court granted gay and lesbian
couples the right to marry, voters narrowly approved a gay marriage
amendment, Proposition 8. In May, the same court upheld the
constitutionality of the measure (but refused to divorce 18,000
couples wed during the window when gay marriage was available.)
Even before the ruling two groups had
been working on measures that would restore marriage equality in the
state. The second petition, sponsored by two straight college
students, seeks to restore equality for gay and lesbian couples by
altering all unions to domestic partnerships, a union that
approximates marriage currently offered to gay couples.
Yes! On Equality would not comment on
how many signatures it had gathered for its original petition.