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California Catholic Conference advocates veto of bill changing legal references to marriage

.- A California bill which changes all legal references to “marriage” to say “civil marriage” should be vetoed, the California Catholic Conference has advocated. While the bill purports to protect religious ministers from being forced to perform same-sex “marriages,” the conference says the legislation creates confusion and ignores true threats to religious freedom.

Democratic state representative Mark Leno's SB 906 “does not accomplish anything except create more confusion about marriage laws in California,” the conference’s Catholic Legislative Network (CLN) said in a Sept. 8 “Action Alert.”

The alert argued that all state law is already civil. “Why place the word ‘civil’ in civil law?” it asked.

The conference added that supporters of the bill recognize that the state cannot create or change religious practices.

The proposed law changes the wording of Prop. 22, which states that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. It ignores the identical constitutional language of Proposition 8, whose constitutionality is being challenged in federal court.

“The bill discounts the concerns of voters that religious institutions would be penalized if they did not publicly accommodate same-sex partnerships in their facilities or benefits,” the CLN alert said. “If supporters wanted to offer true protection for religious groups they could clarify the appropriate exemptions in law. Yet this bill does not do that.”

The CLN asked citizens to urge Gov. Schwarzenegger to veto the bill.

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