FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 10, 2004
CALIFORNIA SENATE COMMITTEE OPPOSES CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND SUPPORTS EFFORTS TO PROTECT BI-NATIONAL SAME-SEX COUPLES
Equality California Sponsored Resolutions by Leno and Lieber Overwhelmingly Approved
SACRAMENTO - Gay rights advocates celebrated two legislative victories today as the State Senate Judiciary Committee passed Assembly Joint Resolution 60 in support of the U.S. Permanent Partners Immigration Act pending in Congress and Assembly Joint Resolution 85 opposing any amendment to the US Constitution on marriage. Both resolutions were sponsored by Equality California.
"Time and time again, California has been called upon to take the lead in standing up for equality. Today, the legislature continued to stand with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community," said Equality California Executive Director Geoffrey Kors. "When elected officials stand up for equal rights, it reaffirms people's faith in democracy and their desire to become engaged in the political process."
The Senate Judiciary Committee, by an 5-1 vote, passed Assembly Joint Resolution (AJR) 85, a resolution opposing amending the Constitution to limit the rights of lesbian and gay couples to marry or obtain benefits through civil unions or domestic partnerships, authored by Assemblymember Mark Leno and over forty other coauthors. This resolution has already been passed in the Assembly and will next be voted on by the full Senate. AJR 85 after final passage will make California the first state to take an official stand against the Bush backed amendment, which recently failed in the U.S. Senate, but may be brought up in the U.S. House of Representative in September.
“This joint resolution will send a strong message to the President, Congress and the rest of the nation that our constitution speaks to the great promise and hope of our nation, not to its fear and ignorance,” said Assemblyman Mark Leno.
“The proposed amendment threatens the very domestic partnership laws that the California Legislature has worked so hard to enact,” said Steve Hansen, Equality California Legislative Advocate who testified in support of the resolution. “This effort to amend the Federal Constitution cannot be allowed to destroy our ability to protect Californians.”
Also testifying in favor of AJR 85, Brad Sears, Executive Director of the UCLA Law School Williams Project on Sexual Orientation and the Law said, “Same-sex marriage should not be used to permanently shift the balance of power between the state and federal government. The judicial and legislative branches of government should remain separate and equal.”
Also approved today by the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 5-0 vote was Assembly Joint Resolution (AJR) 60, a measure in support of the federal Permanent Partners Immigration Act (PPIA). This resolution, by Assemblymember Sally Lieber, urges Congress to pass the PPIA in order to allow American citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their same-sex partner to live in the U.S., just as spouses can under the principle of family unification. AJR 60 now goes to the full Senate for a floor vote before eventually becoming the official position of California.
“I am proud to participate in this fight for equality for same-sex binational couples,” stated Assemblywoman Lieber. “These individuals are in monogamous, committed relationships, demonstrating the same love and devotion for one another that opposite-sex couples do. It is incongruent with the ideals and principles of our government to deny them the rights and protections that all Americans share.”
Testifying in support of the resolution was Marina Hilborn-Johnson, a citizen of Norway who has been in a committed relationship with her wife Marlene for over six years, but who face the possibility that they will have to move to Canada or elsewhere in the next year to remain together.
Marina testified: “We are almost 40 years old and we would like to settle down, buy a house and set roots. Until the laws are changed the fear of being thrown out of the country will be hanging over our heads. Maybe we have to move next year, or the year after that or maybe in five years. We just don’t know.”
“I want to conclude this with a personal message from Marlene who couldn’t be here today. ‘For the past six years, Marina and I have been subjected to various forms of discrimination. This discrimination also affects my parents since I am forced to move away from them now when they are getting older and was counting on my support. It frustrates me that my country who makes it possible to order a foreign bride through a catalogue, will not allow us to be together even after proving our commitment through many years.”
The Senate Judiciary Vote was:
Yes: Cedillo, Ducheny, Escutia, Keuhl, and Sher
Yes: Cedillo, Ducheny, Escutia, Keuhl, and Sher
Absent/Abstain: Ackerman and Morrow
For more information on these two resolutions visit www.eqca.org .
Founded in 1998, Equality California is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots-based, statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to ensure the dignity, safety, equality and civil rights of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians. Equality California is one of the largest and fastest growing statewide LGBT organizations in the country.