Assembly Bill 1982, introduced by California Assembly Member Pete Knight, would require California to refuse to recognize lawful marriages validly performed in other states - if the happy couple is lesbian or gay. If we don’t stop AB1982 NOW, it will make not only bad law, but terrible social policy. In 1948, California became the first state to strike down marriage discrimination against interracial couples. We should not let extreme right-wingers open a new chapter in marriage discrimination in 1996.
1. AB1982 is an “Anti-Marriage” Bill.
No American believes that legally-married couples should have to get a “marriage visa” stamped every time they cross a state border, or have to marry again every time a job transfer or family vacation takes them to another state. But contrary to common sense, AB1982 would actually tell married couples they are suddenly “unmarried” -- no matter how long they have been together -- just because they are now in California.
The U.S. Constitution embodies peoples’ common sense expectation that this is one country, and if you’re married, you’re married. The Full Faith & Credit clause, the right to travel, and the Equal Protection clause all help assure that Americans’ basic freedoms don’t expire when people cross state lines. Just like a corporate charter or even a divorce, states must respect marriages lawfully celebrated in other states. Many of us remember the days when people had to travel to Reno to get a legal divorce; even then, California recognized the divorce when they came home. Should out-of-state divorces be recognized, but lawful marriages not?
2. AB1982, the “Anti-Marriage” Bill, Would Create a Logistical Nightmare for Real Life Married Couples, and a Legal Mess for Everyone Else.
Married couples (and their children, their neighbors, their employers, and their creditors) should not have to worry that they may be married in their home state, but become “unmarried” when they travel into another state that has somewhat different marriage laws. State laws and innumerable court decisions recognize this fact. The same has been true of divorce and child custody decrees. But ABl982 forces people to live in a world of “now you’re married/now you’re not.” Because of the legal rules, rights, and responsibilities that come with marriage (whether of same-sex or different-sex couples), AB1982 would create a vast legal and practical mess.
Imagine if married couples had to worry if their right to inherit from each other remained valid, or their right to make medical decisions for each other (or their kids) would be respected, or their family health plan was in force -- merely because they chose to move to or visit another state. Imagine the distress of a bank in their home state that had loaned money based on a spousal guarantee that was enforceable in that state, only to learn it would not be enforced by a sister state. How could a company maintain coherent personnel policies if its offices were required by conflicting state laws to treat the same employee differently depending on the office in which he or she is working? How could a couple be sure their expectations for social security or veterans’ benefits, child or spousal support, property and insurance rates, or eligibility for a “family discount” would be honored?
3. AB1982, the “Anti-Marriage” Bill, Will Force the State of California, Every State Agency, and Every Municipality into Expensive, Needless Litigation at Taxpayer Expense - Litigation They Will Lose.
In recent years this state has been plagued by needless, prolonged and incredibly expensive litigation that served no purpose except to grab a few headlines for the ideologically-driven politicians who dragged us into it. Consider, for example, the years long, wasteful, losing lawsuit over the “Motor/Voter” law. Under AB1982, municipalities and state agencies will have no choice but to fight their own citizens’ lawful marriages. Political grandstanding like AB1982 ensures huge legal bills for California taxpayers. And, for powerful constitutional and common sense reasons, California would most certainly lose.
Ironically, same-gender couples are still denied the basic freedom to marry in all fifty states. The Hawaii trial won’t start until summer at the earliest, and then there will be appeals; a final decision is still at least a year or two away. So ensuring litigation for California now, over what is still a hypothetical situation, is just fiscally irresponsible.
4. AB1982, the “Anti-Marriage” Bill, Serves No Real Purpose Other than to Target Gay People and Pander to a Rightwing Extremist Political Agenda.
State Senate Minority Leader Robert Hurtt (R-Garden Grove) has already announced his intention to try to reinstate laws against private consensual sex that were removed from California’s books in 1975. AB1982 is just the opening salvo in a polarizing attempt to redraw the political and social landscape of this state to fit an extremist right-wing agenda.
Marriage is an important personal choice that belongs to the couple, not the state. Lesbian and gay couples share the same mix of reasons for wanting the freedom to marry as non-gay couples: personal, emotional, legal, economic, and religious. All couples deserve the basic freedom to marry and share fully and equally in the rights, responsibilities, and commitment of marriage. And all lawfully celebrated marriages should be respected throughout our country. We must stop AB1982, the “anti-marriage” bill, NOW.
Links will soon be added to provide information on how to contact the appropriate individuals to strike down AB1982, the “Anti-Marriage” bill.
For now, try these links:
Larry Ingalls (Public Speaker on the Freedom to Marry)
Questions and Answers re Legal Marriage