Last Thursday, a northern California group called the Freedom To Marry Task Force presented 1,600 letters opposing an anti-gay bill to California Assemblywoman Sheila James Keuhl of Santa Monica, who opposes the bill. The bill was introduced by Assemblyman William J. Knight and passed by the Assembly 41-33 on January 31, 1996; it would invalidate “any marriage contracted outside this state between individuals of the same gender.”
The move signals a conservative trend in 18 other states to deny government recognition to same-sex marriages and is a result of the expectation of a ruling by the end of 1997 in Hawaii that would sanction same-sex unions. Utah and South Dakota have already enacted laws denying recognition to gay marriages, and members of the U.S. Senate are drafting a “Defense of Marriage Act” to define marriage in federal policies as the legal union of one man and one woman.
The issue is also affecting the Republican Presidential campaign; the evening before the Iowa caucuses, a “marriage protection” rally was held in Des Moines, drawing Pat Buchanan as well as written support from Senator Bob Dole, Steve Forbes, and former Gov. Lamar Alexander.
According to the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, legislation is pending in the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.