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Same-sex marriage
bill to be reintroduced in California

Same-sex marriage
bill to be reintroduced in California

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A bill to legalize same-sex marriage in the Golden State, which was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last year, will be reintroduced on Monday.

A bill to legalize same-sex marriage in California, which was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last year, will be reintroduced on Monday by openly gay assemblyman Mark Leno. The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, sponsored by the gay rights group Equality California, would allow same-sex couples to obtain a marriage license from their county clerk.

"All loving, committed couples deserve not only the legal protections that marriage provides but also the dignity that marriage affords," EQCA executive director Geoff Kors, said in a statement. "The time has come to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage. This legislation validates loving relationships and strengthens California families by honoring the commitments of every couple under law."

The bill is nearly identical to the one passed by the legislature in 2005, making it the first legislative body in the nation to pass a measure allowing same-sex couples to marry. Like that bill, the new version also protects religious freedom and reaffirms that no religious institution would be required to solemnize marriages contrary to its fundamental beliefs.

"Each branch of government must rise up out of the shadows of inequality and be counted on this important civil rights issue by using their powers to put an end to discrimination against all people," Leno said in the statement. "It is more important than ever that our legislative branch here in California reaffirms the belief that marriage is an institution only strengthened by inclusiveness. Our society is strengthened by stable and committed relationships, and our governmental bodies should be doing all they can to help these relationships flourish."

A broad coalition of civil rights organizations and leaders support the measure, including the California State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the United Farm Workers, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Chinese for Affirmative Action, the Anti-Defamation League, the California National Organization for Women, and the California Council of Churches, among many others.

Leno's bill, which has been staunchly opposed by several Christian groups in the state, will be heard in policy and fiscal committees in the assembly and senate beginning early 2007. There was no word from the governor's office on whether he will support the bill this time around. (The Advocate)

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