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Assembly Votes to Repeal Prop 8, Redefine Marriage in CA Constitution

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: 

The California Republican Party affirms the family as the natural and indispensable institution for human development.

A strong and healthy family unit is the heart of the home—a safe surrounding where family decisions are made, children are raised, and morality is taught. The family is a foundation on which American society has grown and prospered for over 200 years.

We support the two parent family as the best environment for raising children, and therefore believe that it is important to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The Supreme Court’s ruling cannot and must not be used to coerce a church or religious institution into performing marriages that their faith does not recognize. We believe public policy and education should not be exploited to advocate or teach any social or political agenda.


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