The struggles that lie ahead
By Elizabeth Schulte | April 30, 2004 | Page 2
A COMMITTEE of the California State Assembly voted 8 to 3 April 20 to approve legislation that would amend the state family code to define marriage as between "two persons" instead of between a man and woman.
This is the first time that a state legislative body has voted in favor of a law that would legalize marriage for gays and lesbians. Nearly 14 years ago, a gay marriage bill introduced in the California legislature died without so much as a vote. But a wave of gay and lesbian marriages in San Francisco, New York and Oregon--in defiance of state laws--and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's decision overturning a ban on same-sex marriage have forced the issuing into the national spotlight. More than 4,000 same-sex couples got married in San Francisco beginning February 12 before state officials forced an end in early March.
The committee vote on the new legislation is a victory for gay rights activists, but the bill has a long way to go before it becomes law.
Meanwhile, an Oregon judge has ordered Multnomah County officials to stop issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. But at the same time, the judge ordered authorities to recognize 3,000 licenses that had already been issued.
Under the judge's order, the Oregon legislature has 90 days from the start of its next session to come up with a law to bar future same-sex marriages. If it doesn't, the county could start issuing licenses to gays and lesbians again.
In Massachusetts, where state officials are under orders from the state Supreme Judicial Court to begin issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on May 17, gay-marriage opponents are pulling out all the stops.
Gov. Mitt Romney is telling town clerks around the state that they will face criminal charges if they marry same-sex couples from outside the commonwealth--because of a 1913 state law that forbids authorities from allowing out-of-state couples to marry in Massachusetts if their marriage is barred in their home state.
The intent of the law when it was passed was to prevent interracial marriages! But that isn't stopping Romney and other state officials. "Massachusetts should not become the Las Vegas of same-sex marriage," Romney sniffed to the New York Times. "We do not intend to export our marriage confusion to the entire nation."
We have to expose Romney and his allies as the bigots they are--and turn up the heat on the slew of Democratic politicians who refuse to take a stand. They won't do the right thing until we pressure them to--with protests. Gay marriage is a civil right!