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Gay marriage proposition’s brief message divides state

Proposition 22 is only 14 words long.

Supporters will tell you that it is common sense, and same-sex marriages, which are already illegal, should be banned in order to protect traditional family values.

But the measure that Robert Glazier, a spokesman for the Protection of Marriage Committee, called simple has deeply divided the state of California. A field study conducted last month showed that 59 percent of those polled favored the proposition, but there is also a sense of outrage among many voters.



“It looks innocent enough,” South Lake Tahoe’s Eli Stevenson said of the proposition, which states, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

No state currently allows same-sex marriage, but supporters of the measure fear that other states may soon do so. Gay or lesbian marriages performed in other states would have to be recognized in California, according to Glazier.




“Proposition 22 would merely guarantee that California has the right to decided California marriage law and that we won’t have other states deciding for us,” he said.

But Stevenson said if the proposition passes it could be used to attack gay and lesbian rights in court.

“It promotes intolerance and it promotes fear and hatred of people who are different,” she said. “What kind of message does that send to our children?”

Proposition 22 has divided religious leaders, and the Republican Party. It has also split families.

The initiative’s author, state Sen. William “Pete” Knight, R-Palmdale, has an estranged gay son who has come out against the proposition.

David Knight wrote in the Los Angeles Times last October that Proposition 22 was his father’s “blind, uncaring, uninformed, knee-jerk reaction to a subject about which he knows nothing and wants to know nothing, but which serves his political career.”

Sen. Knight has criticized opponents for making a political issue out of a private matter but San Francisco County Supervisor Mark Leno said, “Social policies that divide families are sure to divide society.”

Leno said he is frustrated by the efforts to promote Proposition 22 as a measure that is tolerant of gays and lesbians.

“It is like banging your head against a wall,” he said. “They know they can not pass a statewide ballot measure by overtly beating up on gays and lesbians so they do it covertly.”

Knight has introduced legislation similar to the proposition three times, including once in 1996 when Congress was dominated by Republicans.

“He couldn’t even convince his colleagues that this is valid,” Leno said. “They want to insist that this is nothing but 14 words and that there is nothing discriminatory about this measure, but this has been used to attack domestic partner benefits, which include hospital visitation rights, custody and adoption rights and other non-discrimination policies.”

Proposition 22’s supporters led a charge this weekend to win over religious voters by handing out fliers at churches across the state, but several prominent religious leaders oppose the measure, including Right Reverend William E. Swing, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California.

Assemblyman Thomas “Rico” Oller, R-Roseville, however, favors the measure “because he is a Christian and thinks that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid,” Spokesman Patrick Bergin said.

The California Republican League opposes Proposition 22 and so does Mary Andrews, one of three Republicans running against Oller in the first district for the state Senate.

“I am not particularly concerned with what goes on in the bedroom and I don’t think the government should be,” Andrews said.

Stevenson agreed.

“A marriage should be about love, not politics,” she said.


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