.- Last evening, the California state legislature became the first legislative body in the U.S. to approve a bill allowing for same-sex marriage--a move that has shocked many religious and pro-family groups around the state. The bill, AB 849, which passed the state Senate last week, still has yet to be approved by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, which has watchers on both sides of the gay-marriage debate waiting with baited breath.
Karen England, of the Capital Resource Institute said that, "This is a sad day for California families because the very foundation of the family is being redefined and destroyed…The legislature, by callously disregarding their constituents, are proving that they are more concerned about embracing a group of adults, identified only by their sexual behavior, than promoting healthy families for the sake of our children."
Last week, the Campaign for Children and Families pointed out that the bill’s passage effectively negates Proposition 22, which passed with 61% of the statewide vote in 2000. That proposition said that “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."
Many have pointed out that the California State Constitution prohibits lawmakers from repealing or amending voter-approved initiatives.
A group of gay rights supporters erupted into cheers in the assembly gallery last night when the vote passed 41-35 in favor of the bill.
Bill May, chairman of the group Catholics for the Common Good decried the passage saying, "Last night, the California Assembly turned its back on California's children and future generations by passing special interest legislation attempting to redefine marriage as a relationship for the benefit of consenting adults rather than an institution that guarantees children a mother and a father for their foundation on life,"
"They also”, he said, “turned their back on the will of California voters who passed Prop 22, 'The Defense of Marriage Act,' with 61% of the vote in 2000."
AB 849 failed passage in the State Assembly in June, but supporters vowed to see the bill back on the floor as soon as possible.
Currently, a state appeals court is considering arguments from a lower court ruling which overturned California laws banning same-sex marriage.
Likewise, many pro-family groups are working on initiatives for the 2006 state ballot which would amend the state constitution to allow only for marriage between a man and a woman.