Proposal to strike 'marriage' from CA law

March 10, 2009 11:56:17 PM PDT
There is a new twist in the same-sex marriage debate. There is an effort underway to get California to stop issuing marriage licenses all together. Instead, the state would offer domestic partnerships, gay or straight.

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Two young men who came up with this idea say they don't have neither the backing from any organization, nor any money. Still, they say they have a lot of volunteers who will work to get the required signatures they need to get this proposal on the ballot.

Southern California college students Kaelan Housewright and Ali Shams hope to get California out of the marriage business. They're pushing to replace the term "marriage" with "domestic partnerships", leaving "marriage" to the faith community.

"People that like hold their religious beliefs will never change regardless of what their political beliefs are. So we're offering an alternative way to go around that issue. Like we're solving the dilemma," says Shams, an initiative proponent.

The proposed ballot initiative calls for domestic partnerships to provide the same rights as marriage. Terminology would be the only difference. People we talked to in San Francisco had different opinions.

"They can call me a donkey, and if everyone else is called a donkey and that's what the definition is, that's fine," says Dylan Swift, a San Francisco resident.

"They want to bring everyone else down so everybody can be the same, but everyone isn't the same. Everybody is different. What's wrong with that?" says Dan Waitz, a San Francisco resident.

The idea isn't new. It was even brought up during the state Supreme Court hearing last week, when justices heard oral arguments over Proposition 8, the ban on same-sex marriage.

"My first question to you is, is that a viable solution?" says Justice Ming Chin.

"If it's applied equally. No one gets married, then I think that complies with Article 1, Section 7, equal protection," says Michael Maroko, an attorney.

However, gay rights advocates are singing a different tune -- they want marriage, period.

"Marriage is something that everyone knows about, all over the world, it's the way we recognize two people who are in love and committed to a relationship," says Geoff Kors, from Equality California.

As for religious organizations, they don't seem to like the domestic partnership idea either.

"To suggest taking it away from everyone, I think this is just such an insult and the ultimate in sour grapes," says Bill May, from Catholics for the Common Good.

Nearly 700,000 signatures are needed by early August to get this initiative on the ballot. It's a daunting task, but the people behind this measure say they are committed to seeing it through.

The following is the California Attorney General's official title and summary of the measure:

SUBSTITUTES DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP FOR MARRIAGE IN CALIFORNIA LAW. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE. Replaces the term "marriage" with the term "domestic partnership" throughout California law, but preserves the rights provided in marriage. Applies equally to all couples, regardless of sexual orientation. Repeals the provision in California's Constitution that states only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: This measure would have an unknown fiscal effect on state and local governments.

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