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SACRAMENTO � A Sacramento County Superior Court judge gave his stamp of approval to a portion of a ballot measure he had ordered rewritten by the attorney general’s office. Last month, Judge Raymond Cadei ordered Attorney General Bill Lockyer’s office to rewrite the last, lengthy sentence in the “Marriage. Elimination of Domestic Partnership Rights” measure to more accurately reflect which domestic partner rights would actually be restricted if the initiative passes. Of concern to the judge were characterizations made by Lockyer’s office that Cadei considered “overbroad.” He said the summary implied that entire categories of rights would be denied to same-sex couples, although the measure states no specific requirements that those rights be taken away. On Thursday, Cadei ruled that the rewrite job accomplished what, by statute, it was required to do: accurately summarize the proposed measure � which would amend the state constitution to limit marriage to heterosexual couples � and some of its legal effects.
State Senate OKs Gay Marriage BillSACRAMENTO — Handing gay-rights advocates a major victory, the California Senate approved legislation Thursday that would legalize same-sex marriages in the nation’s most populous state.The 21-15 vote made the Senate the first legislative chamber in the country to approve a gay-marriage bill. It sets the stage for a showdown in the state Assembly, which narrowly rejected a gay-marriage bill in June.“Equality is equality, period,” said one of the bill’s supporters, Sen. Liz Figueroa, D-Sunol. “When I leave this Legislature, I want to be able to tell my grandchildren I stood up for dignity and rights for all.”California already confers many of the rights and duties of marriage on gay couples, who can register as domestic partners.Senate approval gave the bill’s author, Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, another chance to send the legislation to the desk of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Legislature is expected to adjourn its 2005 session next week.After the Assembly rejected his bill in June by four votes, Leno amended the measure’s provisions into another one of his bills that had already passed the Assembly and was awaiting action in the Senate. That’s the bill the Senate approved Thursday and sent back to the Assembly for a vote on Senate amendments.Leno’s bill would amend a section of state law that bars the state from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in California.The vote came as a state appeal court is considering appeals of a San Francisco judge’s ruling that overturned California laws banning recognition of gay marriages. At the same time, opponents of same-sex marriage are trying to qualify initiatives for the 2006 ballot that would place a ban on gay marriages in the state Constitution.— The Associated Press

“My job isn’t to write this,” Cadei told Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Rockwell and attorney Mary McAlister of the Orlando, Fla.-based Liberty Counsel. The Liberty Counsel is representing measure proponents Larry Bowler, Ed Hernandez and Randy Thomasson. “My job is to decide if the attorney general’s version meets the requirements of the law,” Cadei said. “It only fails in that regard when it is false and misleading.” McAlister, who argued in court via telephone, said she still was convinced that the attorney general’s office, in choosing to emphasize the initiative’s effects on registered domestic partners, “has not properly fulfilled its responsibility under election laws.” Speaking after the hearing, she said the Liberty Counsel would appeal the case to the Third District, which earlier this year decided Knight v. Superior Court, 05 C.D.O.S. 2894, ruling April 4 that the state’s current anti-gay-marriage law, Proposition 22, did not prohibit granting rights to registered domestic partners. That case was appealed to the California Supreme Court, which declined to review the case. In court, McAlister insisted that the attorney general’s summary erroneously states that the new measure “voids or makes unenforceable certain rights and obligations” granted to same domestic partners. Rockwell maintained that since California law already gives many of those rights to registered domestic partners, Lockyer’s title and summary correctly stated the initiative would remove those rights for domestic partners. Proponents of the measure, originally titled “The Voters’ Right to Protect Marriage Initiative,” hope to get their proposed constitutional amendment on the November 2006 ballot. That move requires a 100-word summary issued by the attorney general and the signatures of 598,105 registered voters within 150 days of certification. Proponents of the measure brought their challenge of the attorney general’s summary to Cadei in the form a petition for a writ of mandate to amend Lockyer’s title and summary. On Aug. 18, Cadei ruled that Lockyer’s decision to change the measure’s title was legally appropriate, and that the first part of his summary could stand, meaning only the second, lengthy sentence of the summary had to be changed. The sentence rewritten by Lockyer and approved by Cadei reads: “Voids or makes unenforceable certain rights and obligations conferred by California law on same-sex and heterosexual couples registered as domestic partners, concerning subject areas including, but not limited to, community property, intestate succession, stepparent adoption, child custody, child support, hospital visitation, health care decisions for an incapacitated partner, insurance benefits, death benefits and recovery for wrongful death.” Thursday’s decision means that the entire title and summary now has the court’s seal of approval and could legally go forward for circulation as soon as certified by the Secretary of State’s office.

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