A bill that would allow same-sex couples to get married in California will die in a legislative committee on Wednesday and then be reintroduced at the end of the year with backing from the assembly speaker and other prominent Democrats, the measure's author said.
Assemblyman Mark Leno said in an interview Tuesday that he has agreed to keep his Marriage License Nondiscrimination Act off the assembly floor during the current legislative session by not pressing to have it voted on in the appropriations committee, where the bill was temporarily shelved last week.
Although the measure passed another assembly committee last month--which supporters said was the first time any gay marriage bill had cleared a legislative panel in the nation--Leno said he decided it was better to let the measure stay on hold for now rather than subject it to potential defeat down the road.
Even if the bill had garnered the 41 votes needed to get it out of the California assembly--support it did not appear to have--and subsequently passed the senate, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had given no indication he was willing to sign it. The governor, who during a March appearance on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno said that same-sex marriages would be "fine with me" if the courts or the voters changed state law and made them legal, never responded to requests to discuss the measure, Assemblyman Leno said.
Geoffrey Kors, Equality California's executive director, said the growing momentum behind Leno's bill has persuaded lawmakers to support other measures on the group's legislative agenda, including a bill passed Monday that strengthens civil rights protections for gays and the transgendered.
California is widely considered by gay rights activists to have the nation's second most gay-friendly laws, after Vermont. Last year the legislature approved and Gov. Gray Davis signed a measure granting same-sex couples who register as domestic partners all the state-level legal rights and responsibilities of married spouses, except the right to file joint income taxes.