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Initiative would replace word 'marriage'

March 11, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
As the California State Supreme Court considers a bid to overturn the ban on same-sex marriage, there's a new idea. It's actually an old argument to end marriage as a state-sanctioned institution.Supporters say it would solve the deadlock over gay marriage and provide equality for all couples.

It won't matter if it's a marriage between a man and a woman or a same-sex marriage. Two college students want marriage out of the way. They were given permission Tuesday to circulate an initiative that would take the word "marriage" out of licenses and other documents.

"The Constitutional change would replace the term 'marriage' with the words 'domestic partnership' in California law," said Ali Shams. Shams is a 22-year-old San Diego State University senior who has teamed with a fellow college student.

"We're not changing anything except for just that word," said Shams. "The rights that a married couple have today, they'll have under a domestic partnership."

Shams admits it's aimed at removing the obstacles of religion from marriage and making it a social ceremony. He's straight, and so is his friend, but he supports the right of same-sex couples to legally go through their vows.

The state supreme court is widely expected to uphold Prop. 8's ban on same-sex marriages when it rules.

"Throughout history it's always been whoever has religious differences with political differences are always going to favor their religious beliefs and we kind of bypassed that dilemma by getting rid of marriage," said Shams.

The students have been able to get a Web page up and running as of Wednesday afternoon. The speed of the initiative circulation approval took them by surprise. Wednesday afternoon, they were working on the paper initiative.

"I still intend on getting married when, if this passes," said Shams. "It's just a matter of, like the government itself doesn't call it a marriage but you can still get married through your church and have them recognize it."

The two college students have 150 days to gather nearly 700,000 valid signatures, and that's not a lot of time for a grassroots effort with no money.


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