California Judge Hears Arguments in Liberty Counsel's Challenge to California's Domestic Partnership Law

Aug 24, 2004

Los Angeles, CA -- Today, Liberty Counsel attorneys argued before a California State Judge that the Domestic Partnership Law, signed into law by former Governor Gray Davis, created a new category of same-sex marriage contrary to Proposition 22 which restricts marriage to one man and one woman. Randy Thomasson and Campaign for California Families, together with Betty Cordoba, Liane Galvin, Manny Aldana, Jr. and Clarence Chappell, all long time defenders of California traditional families, filed suit on January 23, 2003 against Governor Gray Davis for nullifying the vote of more than 4.5 million Californians by signing AB 205 into law. Campaign for California Families is represented by Mathew Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, and Rena Lindevaldsen, Senior Litigation Counsel for Liberty Counsel. Liberty Counsel is a national civil liberties legal defense and education organization headquartered in Orlando, Florida.

Three years ago, 61.4% of the electorate voted in favor of Proposition 22, which made only a marriage between a man and woman valid in California. Proposition 22 passed in 52 out of the 58 counties. The California constitution prohibits any amendments to that law without further voter approval. In complete disregard for the will of the people and the state Constitution, Governor Davis signed AB 205, which grants registered same-sex couples virtually all of the rights of marriage. In fact, the language of AB 205 itself states that "registered domestic partners shall have the same rights, protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the same responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law," whatever their source, "as are granted to and imposed upon spouses." AB 205 further admonishes that it "shall be construed liberally in order to secure to eligible couples who register as domestic partners the full range of legal rights ... as the laws of California extend to and impose upon spouses."

Despite the broad grant of marital rights to same-sex couples, proponents of the bill argue that AB 205 does not impact marriage. That argument ignores the fact that marriage is not just a label. Proposition 22 was passed by the people of California to protect the institution of marriage, including the rights, benefits, and duties of marriage. What the Legislature and the Governor have done is slap a domestic partnership label on the bundle of rights and obligations reserved by California voters for marriage between a man and woman. The California constitution prohibits their actions. The lawsuit also challenges AB 25, which the Governor signed into law in 2001. AB 25 extended approximately 15 rights of marriage to same-sex couples. Both bills are unconstitutional as they nullify the intent and impact of Proposition 22.

Mat Staver stated, "The will of the California people must be vindicated. Former Governor Davis' actions are a direct violation of the constitutional rights of over 4.5 million Californians. We intend to restore the rights of those who overwhelmingly voted to preserve traditional marriage."