More gay rights groups urge Schwarzenegger to sign marriage equality bill
Chrys Hudson | September 12, 2007
LOS ANGELES — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, based in Washington, D.C., and the New York-based Human Rights Watch are urging California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign the marriage equality bill passed Friday by the state Senate.
With a 22-15 vote, the Senate approved A.B. 43, authored by Assembly member Mark Leno and sponsored by Equality California. The Assembly passed the bill on June 5 with a 42-34 vote. This is the second time in two years that the California Legislature has passed a bill that would give all couples equal access to a marriage license. The governor has until Oct. 14 to act on the bill.
The California Constitution is clear: Everyone is equal under the law, and thats just what this bill does – grants equality to all couples, Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said in a release. For far too long, too many California families have been placed in harms way because they lack the full, fundamental protections they deserve. Governor Schwarzenegger can rectify this inequality by stepping up and signing this bill the moment it lands on his desk.
Added Thalia Zepatos, the foundations organizing and training director: One thing is clear – marriage equality is inevitable in this state – its only a question of time before the courts, the Legislature and the people of California all unite around this basic principle of equality. We are looking to Governor Schwarzenegger to be a leader and get out in front of where the people are already going.
In a letter to Gov. Schwarzenegger, Boris Dittrich, advocacy director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch told the former actor he has been given one of the rarest things in life: a second chance to do the right thing. Twice, California legislators have supported the human rights of lesbian and gay couples, and now [you] should do the same.
Countries from the Netherlands to South Africa have recognized that marriage should include, not exclude, added Dittrich, who as a member of the Dutch parliament sponsored the first successful legislation in the world extending marriage to same-sex couples. The US government should also see that the politics of prejudice destroys families.
At the national level, Belgium, Canada, South Africa and Spain have also passed laws opening marriage rights to lesbian and gay couples. The California bill would be an important step toward ending the discrimination and damaging burdens that the lack of access to marriage imposes on same-sex partners, Dittrich said.
Only federal action can fully end discrimination against lesbian and gay couples in the US, he added. But states like California can send a message, and the governor should lend his voice. – Issued by Gay Link Content
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