What is AB 43?

AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, is a bill that would bring us one step closer to ending the special exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage in California and providing freedom to churches who wish to perform the ceremonies.

The bill restores Sections 300 and 302 of the California Family Code to their pre-1977 language without touching Section 308.5 blocking foreign marriages that was installed by Proposition 22.

AB 43 is supported by more than 250 civil rights and professional groups, 46 of our 80 Assembly members and 22 of our 37 Senators.

The bill is on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk. He must sign or veto the bill before October 14, or it will pass into law on its own. If the bill becomes law, there will probably be an injunction pending the outcome of the marriage cases before the State Supreme Court.

He has vetoed a similar bill, AB 849, and has promised to veto this one too. His arguments have not changed: (1) the people voted for discrimination through Proposition 22 in 2000 and he cannot overturn the will of the people (2) the judiciary and the people need to work this out without the legislature (3) the bill is ineffective because of the pending cases in the Supreme Court.

I don’t believe these arguments hold up. Proposition 22 was about states rights and did nothing to change gay marriage in California. It was seven years ago and does not reflect the will of the voters that set up our Constitution and twice elected the legislature that passed AB 43. Finally, the bill may be ineffective at changing the law, however a signature will send a powerfully effective message about fairness.

The Governor has to know that his excuses are pretty lame. I guess he thinks a veto will win favor with his most active donors and the current crop of gay-haters in Washington, and by distracting people with Proposition 22 and “the will of the people” he can avoid doing what is right for the people in favor of what is right for himself.

It is embarrassing to have California come just a penstroke away from providing all their couples with the same rights. Overcoming prejudice was in California’s history, but now that mantle belongs to Massachusetts, Canada and Spain. It is horrible to have a Republican advocate higher taxes and additional government interference with individual lives. It is demeaning to have one person messing around with my family’s legal status to suit his political agenda.

I hope that I can change Governor Schwarzenegger’s mind, but even if I can only touch the minds and hearts of people who read my letters, I will have accomplished my goal.

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