California Assembly members overwhelmingly voted today for an amendment to the state constitution redefining marriage to include same-sex couples. The vote included 58 Democrats and 8 Republicans voting yes, with the remaining members not voting. Now the question will go to the State Senate, with the final decision to be made by the voters in 2024.
Sen. Scott Wiener and Assemblymember Evan Low introduced Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5 (ACA 5) to repeal Proposition 8, which amended the California Constitution by adding the following words: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” Proposition 8 was a ballot initiative in response to a California Supreme Court decision that wrongly held that the state constitution guarantees a “right” to same-sex marriage.
Proposition 8 was ultimately overruled in 2015 by the U.S. Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges, which found a so-called “right” to marry under the U.S. Constitution for same-sex couples. However, the language of Proposition 8 still remains in the State Constitution. Proponents of same-sex marriage are concerned about the possibility of Obergefell v. Hodges being overturned, as Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito have called the ruling into question.
Those Assembly Republicans voting for ACA 5 even though the CA Republican Platform says marriage should be defined as one man and one woman are: Juan Alanis (R-Modesto), Phillip Chen (R-Brea), Laurie Davies (R-Oceanside), Diane Dixon (R- Newport Beach), Josh Hoover (R-Folsom), Bill Essayli (R-Riverside), Devon Mathis (R-Visalia), Marie Waldron (R-Escondido) and Greg Wallis (R-Rancho Mirage) who also co-sponsored ACA 5.
Several Republicans who voted for the bill touted a letter Republicans encouraged Asm. Low to write stating that ACA 5 was intended to limit marriage to “two unmarried persons 18 years of age or older” and it acknowledged the constitutional right of clergy to chose those marriages they which to solemnize. They hoped this would allay fears regarding ACA 5’s affect on the religious liberty of those who believe in the Biblical definition of one man, one woman marriage. While judges do look at legislative intent, the text of a bill has more long-term authority on the bill’s interpretation.
Here is what the CA Republican Party Platform says about the the definition of the family and marriage: