California Senate votes to allow gay marriages

Friday, September 2, 2005

The California State Senate voted on Thursday to allow homosexuals to marry, therefore becoming the first legislative body in the United States to embrace the controversial issue.

The Senate approved the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, which would define marriage as a civil contract between two people rather than a man and a woman. The vote passed by the minimum number of necessary votes, 21-15. All Republicans in the Senate opposed the bill, as did one Democrat, Sen. Dean Florez of Shafter. Three Democrats abstained.

The bill's chief sponsor, Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) said, "We're looking for three votes, and I can't tell you today who the three will be, but I think the power of the success coming from the floor of the Senate today will give us the necessary momentum and encouragement to do what we all know is the right thing to do."

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's spokeswoman, Margita Thompson, stated that the Governor believes the issue should be decided by the court and not the legislature.

"The governor was elected to uphold the laws of California. The people spoke when they voted in Proposition 22. It has subsequently gone to the courts and the governor believes that is where it should be decided. It's an issue for the people and the courts," she said. Prop 22, which is currently being challenged by San Francisco, deals only with the issue of non-Californian marriages.

Because California has a direct democracy, decisions of the legislature can be overturned by a direct vote of the people. A court decision on the matter, however, could not be overturned except by a higher court.