Lawmakers urged to ban gay unions in California Wilson, attorney general speak on bill's behalf

July 09, 1996|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Weighing in on the hotly debated issue of same-sex marriage, Gov. Pete Wilson and Attorney General Dan Lungren urged enactment yesterday of a bill prohibiting California from recognizing gay and lesbian marriages performed in other states.

The state's top two Republicans spoke out one day before the legislation, passed by the Assembly, faces a showdown in the Democratic-controlled state Senate Judiciary Committee.

They were immediately challenged by the legislature's only openly lesbian members, Democratic Assemblywomen Sheila Kuehl of Santa Monica and Carole Migden of San Francisco.

Wilson and Lungren said the bill would strengthen the recognition of male-female marriage.

"By refusing to equate same-sex relationships to marriage, California is not denying an existing right," the governor said, "but rather is properly exalting marriage."

"This is not an anti-gay effort," Lungren insisted. He called traditional male-female marriages a core underpinning of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

But Kuehl said the measure would deny gays civil rights, equating it to discrimination against slaves and other minorities.

"Slaves were not allowed to marry, and after emancipation, they were not allowed to marry white people," she said. "In California, Chinese people and Japanese people were not allowed to marry white people until well into the middle of [this] century.

"If you recognize a person's love and their commitment to family on an equal basis with your own, you can no longer deny their humanity. That is what this bill is about," she said.

The measure, approved 41-31 by the Assembly in January, the exact majority required, appears to have a slight edge for approval by the committee, according to committee observers.

But amendments to weaken the prohibition are expected.

No state currently legalizes same-sex marriages. But backers of the bill anticipate that courts in Hawaii will do so. They say California must be prepared to deny recognition of such unions.

Pub Date: 7/09/96

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