Tuesday, February 14, 2023 | 4:14 pm
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California, a US progressive policy trendsetter and a state where the current governor once made headlines for issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in San Francisco before it was legal, will seek to promote gender equality to enshrine marriage in the state constitution.
The effort comes 15 years after a voter-approved initiative, Proposition 8, banned the state from recognizing same-sex marriages. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California. However, the constitutional amendment is still pending, worrying lawyers who believe the Supreme Court will revisit the 2015 case that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
“It’s absolutely poison, it’s so destructive and demeaning that it’s in our Constitution,” said Scott Wiener, a senator representing San Francisco.
Wiener and Silicon Valley Assemblyman Evan Low, both Democrats and members of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, introduced legislation Tuesday to withdraw Bill 8. The measure would need to be approved in the legislature by a two-thirds majority, and then it will ultimately be up to voters to decide by referendum.
In the days leading up to the passage of Bill 8, Low joined opponents of the measure outside his alma mater De Anza College in Cupertino, California, in calling on voters to reject the initiative. When it was over, it felt personal to Low, who is gay.
“Why do fellow Californians hate me?” he said. “Why do they think my rights should be abolished?”
California could follow in the footsteps of Nevada, which in 2020 became the first state to amend its constitution to guarantee the right to same-sex marriage. The case took on new urgency last year when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the right to abortion established by Roe v. Wade. At the time, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas questioned other high-profile cases and urged the court to reconsider them. His list included Obergefell v. Hodges, which forced states to enact and recognize same-sex marriages.
“In future cases, we should reconsider all substantive due process precedents set by this Court, including Griswold, Lawrence and Obergefell,” Thomas wrote, referring to two other landmark cases involving access to contraception and a decision overturning child sex abuse laws. same sex were deleted. activity.
In December, President Joe Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act, which requires states to recognize same-sex marriages, but the legislation doesn’t force states to allow them if Obergefell is overturned.
Wiener and Low, the two California legislators, hope to replicate the process by which voters in the state passed a constitutional amendment back in November that guarantees the right to abortion.
Jeremy Yancey and Fabio de Andrade, who married Tuesday in a Valentine’s Day celebration at San Francisco City Hall, said the repeal of Proposition 8 is overdue.
“It’s about time. Protecting our rights as human beings is critical,” Yancey said. “It should have been done many years ago.”
Assemblyman Greg Wallis, a Republican representing part of San Bernadino County, said in a statement that he was proud to have co-authored the legislation.
“The reality is that marriage is a contract and commitment between two people in love, and it’s about time we made that clear,” Wallis said.
The path to marriage equality in the Golden State was uneven. In 2000, voters passed a statute prohibiting the recognition of same-sex marriages, a measure overturned by the courts. Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat who became mayor of San Francisco in 2004, conducted same-sex marriages in the city in a move that violated the law and went against the views of many in his party at the time. In 2005, the California legislature was ahead of all other states when it passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. But then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, vetoed it.
Support for marriage equality has expanded rapidly since the Obergefell ruling. While Mormon groups helped fund the Proposition 8 campaign in California, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints supported the Respect for Marriage Act.
Tony Hoang, executive director of Equality California, is optimistic the group can help build a large coalition of support for the proposed change.
“I know this will be a two-pronged campaign,” he said.
Journalist Terry Chea of the Associated Press in Fremont, California, contributed to this report.