The General Assembly Judiciary Committee passed SB 1140 on a 7-1 vote late Tuesday afternoon.
State Sen. Mark Leno says his legislation is meant to protect churches that refuse to perform same-sex ceremonies from being threatened with the loss of their tax-exempt status in the future. Should the bill become law, it would define marriage as “a personal relation arising out of a civil, and not religious, contract.”
The bill, which passed the Senate nearly three weeks ago, may soon come before the full General Assembly for a floor vote.
Ron Prentice, executive director of the California Family Council, pointed out that the bill was drafted by the gay-activist group Equality California — and its only real purpose is to get same-sex marriage on the legislative fast track should the U.S. Supreme Court strike down the state’s current constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
“If it were to become law, the only benefit it brings is to discount the meaning of ‘religious ceremony’ in California law,” Prentice said. “That’s the incremental change they’re looking for.”
Since voters approved Prop. 8 in 2008, it’s been under constant legal attack. Earlier this year, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled it unconstitutional, and the full court denied marriage advocates a rehearing of the case in late May.
Should the U.S. Supreme Court take the case, a ruling could be available by June 2013.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read California SB 1140.