Senators in California approved a bill
late Wednesday that recognizes gay and lesbian marriages performed
outside the state prior to November 5, 2008.
Senator Mark Leno, an openly gay
Democrat from San Francisco, introduced SB 54, which was sponsored by
(EQCA), the state's largest gay rights advocate. Senators
favored the bill in a 23 to 14 vote. The bill was passed in the
Assembly earlier in the month.
Voters approved Proposition 8, the
voter-initiated constitutional amendment that bans gay marriage in
the Golden State, by a narrow margin on November 4. The California
Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the amendment but allowed gay
and lesbian marriages performed during the June-to-November “summer
of love” to stand. The bill clarifies the ruling by including
out-of-state gay marriages.
"When California offered marriage
licenses to same-sex couples in 2008, spouses who were already
married in another state or country were prohibited from re-marrying
in California," Senator Leno said. "Now those couples and
their families are in limbo because their rights and protections
under law are not clear. This legislation ensures that same-sex
couples are protected by existing California law that recognizes all
marriages equally, regardless of where they are performed."
“We are grateful that our elected
leaders have passed this vital bill, which provides much needed
clarity for same-sex couples married out of state who deserve to know
where their families stand,” said Geoff Kors, executive director
for EQCA, in a statement.
The social conservative group
California Family Council (CFC), which supports the gay marriage ban,
is urging California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to veto the
measure, and has called the bill “unconstitutional.”
“The people of California are
sovereign, and the language of Proposition 8 is clear regarding the
people's intent,” Ron Prentice, director of CFC, said in a
statement. “However, California's current Legislature will
continue to attempt to weaken the laws set forth by the people.”
Prentice also serves as the chairman of
ProtectMarriage.com, the group behind the gay marriage ban.