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For week ended January 23, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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Summarized by Kent Larsen

Same Sex Marriage Battle in California Heating Up
Associated Press 18Jan00 N1
By Bob Egelko: Associated Press Writer

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA -- As the March 7th vote on California's Proposition 22, the so-called Knight Initiative which would prohibit the state from recognizing same-sex marriages, both supporters and opponents of the measure are ratcheting up their efforts.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the LDS Church's North America West Area had a letter to members read in sacrament meeting last Sunday urging members to support the initiative. Last year the Church urged members to support the proposition with financial donations. Supporters of the proposition have donated twice the amount raised by opponents of the measure.

But opponents are not giving up. Lesbian rock star Melissa Etheridge will perform at a benefit today (Friday, January 21st) in Beverly Hills, California, expecting to raise $250,000 to oppose the measure.

Voters in the state seem disposed to pass the measure, according to recent polls. The independent Field Poll showed the proposition leading 51 percent to 40 percent. It also indicates that support in rural and suburban areas of California is being offset by opposition in the major cities, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Mark DiCamillo of Field Poll expects a close election and the University of California at Berkeley's Bruce Cain, who directs the Institute for Governmental Studies there, agrees, "It's pulling a significant amount of moderate Democrats," which he says is the key to winning most California elections. But Cains says that the measure could still lose "if it can be painted as extremist, if there's enough money and if the campaign is run well enough."

Meanwhile, the same-sex marriage issue is being brought up in the 19 U.S. states that do not have laws like the Knight Initiative. Supporters are gathering signatures in Colorado and Nevada for similar measures, and The Beehive, a Las Vegas LDS publication, says that the LDS Church is supporting and involved in the Nevada effort, which would define marriage as between a man and a woman in an amendment to the state constitution.

The newspaper says that veteran Nevada campaign worker Anna Peterson got involved in the Nevada campaign, called the "Coalition for the Protection of Marriage," at the request of Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the First Presidency of the Seventy. Peterson is a board member of the coalition. She is working on identifying contacts in each of the 30 LDS stakes in Nevada, who will coordinate with liasons in each ward in the state.

Mormon News has also received reports of LDS Church involvement in other states to pass similar laws. While same sex marriage is currently not legal in any state in the U.S., these laws try to keep each state from recognizing such marriages performed elsewhere, containing any future same-sex marriages to any state that may legalize them in the future.

This feared legalization may happen soon. In Vermont the state supreme court recently ruled that same sex couples are entitled to the same benefits as married couples and directed the state legislature to enact legislation that would give same sex couples those benefits. While state legislators seem disposed to allow 'domestic partnerships' with the same benefits as marriages, an LDS Church representative testifying before the state legislature recently called for an amendment to the state constitution to overturn the state supreme court's decision.

But inspite of these efforts, the California effort will have a huge impact, simply because of its size and the large, visible gay population in its large cities. No-on-22 campaign manager Mike Marshall says this makes its very important nationally, "An eighth of the country is being asked to vote on an anti-gay initiative. If it passes, it sends a profound message to policy-makers and young gays and lesbians who are struggling with their sexual orientation."

The initiative, and the laws and constitutional amendments in 30 other states, may not accomplish their intent in the end, however. The U.S. Constitution requires that states give "full faith and credit" to the laws of other states. This may mean that the anti-same-sex marriage measures violate the U.S. Constitution.

See also:

Campaign initiative asks Nevadans to protect marriage Beehive p 8 15Dec99 N1 By Ken Ward: Beehive Newspaper

Etheridge to Rock Against Same Sex Marriage Ban Yahoo! News (Reuters) 20Jan00 N1 By Jill Serjeant

Salt Lake Tribune 21Jan00 N1


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