Jul 21, 2009 5:17 PM GMT
The bill's sponsor contends that his proposed changes to state family law are consistent with the California Supreme Court's nuanced decision in May to uphold Proposition 8.
The court's decision upheld the right of voters to bar gay couples from the label "marriage," acknowledged SB 54's author, Sen. Mark Leno, an openly gay Democrat from San Francisco.
But the court, Leno noted, also upheld an estimated 18,000 same-sex marriages performed in California before the gay-marriage ban was approved. Those marriages took place after the justices ruled in May 2008, in a separate decision, that California's constitution at that time did not prevent same-sex marriage.
The high court did not address how to treat out-of-state marriages, explaining in a footnote that none of the parties involved in lawsuits represented such interests.
In that vacuum, Leno is arguing the Legislature's role should be to clarify the rights of same-sex couples who live in California but wed elsewhere, or couples who might move or travel here in the future.
"Proposition 8 passes," Leno said. "But there are two men who live in San Francisco who pay their taxes, work and got married legally in Massachusetts. What are they? Legal strangers? Clearly, there is a legislative need to clarify this."