Tuesday, July 12, 2005

I Guess It Depends On What "No" Means

From Marriagewatch.org:

"On March 7, 2000, the people of California voted on Proposition 22, a proposal to enact a state "Defense of Marriage Act" as an initiative statute. The text of Prop 22 reads:

“Only marriage between a man and a woman
is valid or recognized in California.”

Proposition 22 was ratified by an overwhelming majority of California voters, prevailing by a 23-point margin. Statewide, 4,618,673 votes were cast in favor of the proposition, comprising 61.4% of the total vote. Opponents garnered 2,909,370 votes, for 38.6% of the vote.

Final vote counts revealed that Proposition 22 won in 52 of California's 58 counties, including all of the major metropolitan areas except for San Francisco. The six counties which did not approve Prop. 22 were all in the immediate San Francisco Bay area, including: Alameda county, Marin county, San Francisco county, Santa Cruz county, Sonoma county, and Yolo county. "

So the issue is dead. The people have spoken, right? Not quite.

Assemblyman Mark Leno, a Democrat from—where else?—San Francisco, introduced a bill to legalize gay marriage earlier this year, but it failed to move out of the Assembly. So, Mr. Leno is using a technique called “gut and amend,” where using a bill already passed by the Assembly (in this case, a marine fisheries and research bill), he takes out the original language, and substitutes new. In this case, the language of the new bill is essentially the language of his bill that failed earlier this year.

The amended bill has moved out of the State Senate Judiciary Committee and will move on to a Senate hearing and the Senate floor. According to the article in the San Francisco Chronicle (link to article here: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/07/13/BAGQNDN3E51.DTL), Mr. Leno believes he has enough votes in the Senate to bring the amended bill back to the Assembly where he needs only three more votes.

Forget the moral arguments of gay marriage or whether this is truly a civil rights issue. The simple arrogance of the Mr. Leno and other members of the State Assembly and Senate is truly astonishing.

Again, from the Chronicle:

State Sen. Gilbert Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, acknowledged that the majority of voters opposed gay marriage when they approved Proposition 22 five years ago but said: "The people have spoken. They have spoken. But people aren't always right."

The people aren’t always right… But Mr. Cedillo is?

If Mr. Leno were in the private practice, what he is doing would be called “bait and switch.” If his bill had merit, he would not have to “gut and amend.” If his bill had merit, it should be able to withstand public scrutiny and debate. Instead, Mr. Leno waited until most citizens were distracted by the annual State Budget Crisis and thinks to slip his bill in. If he were a magician, this would be called “redirection.”

Why is this even legal?

I first heard this mentioned on the radio. The Chronicle had an editorial about it on Monday. Today is the first real article I’ve seen and, since I’m reading online, I’m not sure how deeply it’s buried. I haven’t checked my local paper, but it’s not on the front page. I guess this is considered “business as usual” in Sacramento.

I don’t know about you all, but I get really steamed when the people who are ostensibly working for me try to tell me I didn’t know what I wanted. And then try to enact legislation through the back door. Time to write a few letters and e-mails…