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Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and DP benefits filed in California

Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and DP benefits filed in California

Opponents of marriage equality on Thursday filed a proposed amendment to the California constitution that would ban same-sex marriage and strip domestic partners of most spousal benefits. The move comes after California lawmakers last week rejected a similar proposed constitutional amendment and follows a March ruling by a judge in San Francisco who said state laws prohibiting gay couples from marrying are unconstitutional. "The bad guys here are the judges and the politicians. The people are frustrated," Randy Thomasson, organizer of a group called, said outside the state capitol. "The people are ready to protect marriage once and for all." The amendment's sponsors must submit nearly 600,000 signatures from voters to the California secretary of state to qualify the measure for the June 2006 ballot. Under the proposed California amendment, same-sex couples still would be allowed to register as domestic partners, but most of the privileges and responsibilities the state has provided for people in such unions would be taken away. State and local governments, for example, would no longer be allowed to provide health coverage for the partners of their gay employees. Gay rights supporters described the measure as among the most extreme attempts nationwide to counter the gains same-sex couples have made since Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage a year ago. If passed, it would make California the 20th state with a constitutional prohibition on marriage equality. "It's absolutely ahead of the pack in its viciousness," said Thalia Zepatos of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Massachusetts has allowed same-sex marriage since last May. Vermont has offered civil unions to gays since 2000; Connecticut will begin offering civil unions in October. Since January 1, domestic partners in California have had all the rights and responsibilities of marriage conferred by the state except the ability to file joint income taxes. Last week a federal judge in Nebraska overturned the gay marriage ban adopted in that state in November after ruling its "broad prescriptions," which included limiting public employee benefits to married spouses, went "far beyond merely defining marriage as between a man and a woman." (AP)

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