California Assemblymember Evan Low and State Senator Scott Wiener have teamed with Equality California and other LGBTQ+ advocacy groups to help voters protect marriage equality in the state via the ballot box.
The group on Tuesday unveiled Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5. The amendment would remove discriminatory language from the California Constitution placed there in 2008 by the controversial Proposition 8, which declared “only marriage between a man and a woman” was legal in the state. Low, Wiener, and the amendment’s supporters hope to place the proposed amendment before voters in the 2024 election.
“Repealing Proposition 8 is the right thing to do to ensure that marriage equality is protected now and for future generations,” Low said in a joint statement with Wiener. “California leads the way in LGBTQ+ protections and cutting-edge pro-equality legislation and our constitution should reflect those values.”
“Repealing Prop 8 is an essential step in protecting the freedom to marry for millions of LGBTQ Californians,” Wiener said. “This scar on our Constitution is unconscionable, and it needs to be removed, especially with extremist Supreme Court Justices threatening to overturn marriage equality. It’s time to send this issue to California voters to right this wrong.”
Prop. 8, which is officially known as the California Marriage Protection Act, was approved by voters in 2008 with 52.24 percent of votes cast. The law was later ruled unconstitutional by a state court and marriage equality was further protected on a federal level with the historic 2015 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges. However, both Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito have expressed an interest in overturning that decision, and advocates fear they may have been emboldened with the rejection of Roe v. Wade.
“The overwhelming majority of Californians — 71 percent, an all-time high which includes people from across the political spectrum — support the freedom to marry for same-sex couples,” Tony Hoang, executive director for Equality California, said. “Equality California is committed to continue addressing the pressing issues facing the LGBTQ+ community, including the alarming increase of anti-LGBTQ+ attacks against the trans community while advancing this constitutional amendment.”
The proponents of ACA 5 cited recent developments at the Supreme Court as motivating their actions, saying it is important to remove Prop. 8’s language from the state’s Constitution once and for all.
“While LGBTQ+ Californians enjoy some of the strongest legal protections in the country, vestiges of discrimination still linger in our Constitution and our culture,” said Carlos Marquez III, executive director, ACLU California Action. “The repeal of Prop 8 is one critical step toward ensuring lived equality for all.”
ACA 5 must now pass both chambers of the California legislation with a two-thirds vote before it would be put before voters next year. It does not require Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature to advance, although he could call for a special election. The proposed amendment would require only a simple majority of votes to become law.
“Especially when LGBTQ+ people are under attack in so many states across the country, it is more essential than ever that California leads the way in affirming the equal dignity of every person, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, ability, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity,” Imani Rupert-Gordon, executive director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said. “Repealing Prop 8 is an important part of a much larger battle.”