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The California senate approved legislation Thursday that would legalize same-sex marriages, a vote that makes the chamber the first legislative body in the country to approve a bill establishing marriage equality for gays and lesbians. The 21-15 vote sets the stage for a showdown in the state assembly, which narrowly rejected a similar bill in June.
"Equality is equality, period," said one of the bill's supporters, Democratic senator Liz Figueroa. "When I leave this legislature I want to be able to tell my grandchildren I stood up for dignity and rights for all."
Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth, a Republican, said the bill is not the right thing to do. "We should protect traditional marriage and hold all of those values and institutions that have made our society and keep our society together today," he said.
The gay political group National Stonewall Democrats praised the work of Democrats for senate approval of the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, as the bill is called. The vote ran almost exclusively along party lines, with 21 Democrats voting in favor of the legislation, and 14 Republicans and one Democrat voting against it. "The actions of Democrats ensured this victory for California families," said Eric Stern, executive director of Stonewall. "The Democratic Party in California has displayed its strength by demonstrating its commitment to the family." (AP, with additional reporting by Advocate.com)