California Legislature Passes Equal Marriage Bill

It’s Up to Governor Schwarzenegger to Make History, Bring Full Equality to all Californians by Signing Legislation into Law

Sacramento, CA The California Legislature made history Tuesday when it became the first state legislature in the country to pass equal marriage legislation for same-sex couples. Last night’s Assembly vote on the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act followed the state Senate's vote last week to pass the bill by a vote of 21-15. The Assembly needed 41 votes to pass the legislation and get it on the governor’s desk. In a victory for equality and fairness, the Assembly passed the legislation with a final roll call vote of 41-35, making the California legislature the first in the country to voluntarily extend equal marriage rights to same-sex couples under civil law and allow them to marry.

“The California legislature took a historic and courageous step by passing this legislation,” said Ralph G. Neas, president of People For the American Way. “Equal marriage rights for same-sex couples can be achieved when people work together to eradicate discrimination from our laws and from our civic institutions.”

In order for the legislation to become law, Governor Schwarzenegger must sign the bill or let it automatically go into effect without his signature. He also has until October 6, 2005 to veto the bill, if he decides to choose discrimination over fairness and equality.

“The California legislature is leading the nation into a new era of freedom, fairness, and equality for all Americans,” added Neas. “We urge Governor Schwarzenegger to sign this bill promptly, make it the law, and guarantee thousands of committed gay and lesbian couples and their families the fairness, stability, and legal protections that only marriage provides. "

Neas noted that even this historic advance, if signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger, would not provide California’s married same-sex couples with full legal equality, because the federal government still refuses to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples and continues to deny them the more than 1,000 federal rights, benefits and protections provided to married couples.

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