Supporters of extending marriage rights to same-sex couples in California didn't have long to celebrate a new domestic-partnership law before opponents moved Monday to block it. In response to Gov. Gray Davis's signing of the bill, Republican state senator Pete Knight filed a lawsuit in Sacramento County superior court to stop implementation of the new law, which would extend most of the rights enjoyed by married couples to registered domestic partners.
Knight cited Proposition 22, the ballot initiative he authored and voters approved in 2000 confirming that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in the state of California," as the basis for the lawsuit. The lawsuit argues that the DP bill violates the state constitution because of Proposition 22. The suit names Davis, secretary of state Kevin Shelley, and two other state agencies as defendants.
Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg (D-Los Angeles), who wrote the bill, said Knight's lawsuit isn't surprising. She said the Legislative Counsel of California reviewed the DP bill earlier this year and determined that it does not contradict Proposition 22. "The legislative counsel decided this was not marriage, that this was domestic partnership," Goldberg said. "[The opponents of the DP bill] are not going to win, but they'll raise a lot of money and confuse a lot of people."
At an October 15 hearing Knight's attorneys will ask the court to stop implementation of the law until the case can be presented in court, said Robert Tyler, a lawyer for the conservative-oriented Alliance Defense Fund.