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California lawmakers prepare for same-sex marriage resumption

June 26, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Reaction to the Proposition 8 Supreme Court ruling Wednesday was widespread across the country, including in the California Capitol where the issue has been hotly debated.

State Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles) is the nation's first elected openly gay Speaker. To him, Wednesday's Proposition 8 Supreme Court ruling is very personal.

"This is the first time in my life that I felt that the law fully recognized me as a being equal to everyone else," said Perez.

The eight-member California Legislative Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus embraced as they shared the news with each other.

Assemblyman Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park) and Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) are the first openly gay married state lawmakers. Their ceremonies were held during that brief period when same-sex marriages were legal in the state.

Wedding plans have begun for Assemblywoman Susan Eggman (D-Stockton).

"We will not lie about who we are in the state house or in the family house. And I think those are the kinds of things that we take away from today," said Eggman.

Some conservative groups are upset same-sex marriages will resume once the stay is lifted.

"Children are the victims here. The next generation is going to be very confused about marriage, sex, relationships, and will not hear about any of the negative consequences of going against the natural design of marriage and family," said Randy Thomasson, SaveCalifornia.com.

Despite the Supreme Court ruling, churches in California, though, don't have to perform same-sex marriages. The Legislature passed a law last year making sure religious freedom stays intact.

"It went a further step to say that no religious institution would risk its tax-exempt status by not performing these marriages," said state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco).

But Governor Brown's directive to the California Department of Public Health to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples when the stay is lifted means county clerks don't have a choice: They must comply no matter how they feel.

"You may have someone in that office who may go to his or her boss and say, 'I can't do this.' 'Please step aside, and we'll find someone who will.' The office has to do it," said Leno.

Couples and clerks across California are waiting for the stay to be lifted and expect same-sex marriages to resume next month.


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