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California legislature looks at gay marriage ban

California legislature looks at gay marriage ban

Opponents of same-sex marriage in California get their chance in the state legislature this week, but their likelihood of success isn't great. The judiciary committees in the state senate and assembly will consider constitutional amendments Tuesday that would prohibit California from recognizing same-sex marriages and would limit rights and benefits given to domestic partners. The hearings come two weeks after the assembly judiciary committee approved a bill by Democratic assemblyman Mark Leno of San Francisco to authorize same-sex unions. State law currently defines marriage as a civil contract between a man and a woman. Voters in 2000 also approved a ballot measure, Proposition 22, to prevent California from recognizing same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. But a San Francisco judge ruled in March that those laws discriminate against gay couples and are unconstitutional. That decision, which is likely to reach the state supreme court, has helped fuel the drive for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, although that amendment is more likely to come from an initiative campaign than from the legislature. "I hope to convince my Democratic colleagues that it's the right thing to do," said Assemblyman Ray Haynes, a Murrieta Republican who is the author of one of the constitutional amendments up this week. "But if their past conduct is any predictor of their future behavior, we face a rocky road ahead." Opponents of same-sex marriage are planning an initiative campaign, anticipating that the amendments by Haynes and Republican senator Bill Morrow will fail. Besides banning gay marriages, the Haynes and Morrow proposals could undermine some rights and benefits given to domestic partners by recently enacted laws. The two proposals would ban giving the "rights, responsibilities, benefits, and obligations of a any other union or partnership." "To the extent that folks wish to make domestic partnerships substantially equal to marriage, they are undermining marriage," Haynes contends. (AP)

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