California assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) said Tuesday he plans to introduce legislation next month that will prohibit the denial of marriage licenses by the state of California to gay and lesbian couples.
"The time has come for California to honor its commitment to equality for all Californians," said Leno, one of five openly gay state legislators and chairman of the the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Caucus. His bill will affirm the civil rights of gay and lesbian couples who wish to take on the responsibility of marriage and ensure that their children receive the same protections as children raised by married couples.
Currently California couples can register with the state as domestic partners. However, the law does not grant all rights of marriage or make couples and their children eligible for more than a thousand federal protections offered to married couples and their children, Leno said in a statement.
Equality California, the statewide LGBT civil rights advocacy organization, will sponsor the bill. Equality is a member of the California Freedom to Marry Coalition, an alliance of organizations committed to winning the right to marry for all California citizens. The denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples is nothing less than state-sanctioned discrimination," stated Geoffrey Kors, Equality executive director. "This legislation will ensure that we actually treat LGBT couples and their children the same as other families under the law."
Proposition 22, an initiative passed by California voters in 2000, was designed to prevent California from being forced to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who were married outside California. However, that law did not change the criteria for issuance of marriage licenses within California, which is the subject of Leno's bill.