Christopher Curtis, PlanetOut Network

published Thursday, July 28, 2005

Two days after the California Attorney General Bill Lockyer approved petition language for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, he approved two more measures to restrict same-sex couples’ rights.

Gail Knight is behind both of the new measures to limit marriage to a man and a woman. She is the widow of Sen. Pete Knight, who led the successful campaign for Proposition 22 in 2000, the law that prohibits recognizing same-sex marriage in California.

Sid Voorakkara, the interim director for Equality For All, the coalition of groups fighting the marriage bans, told the PlanetOut Network each of the three petitions aims to make same-sex marriage unconstitutional in California while stripping the rights of existing domestic partners.

"You wouldn’t even be able to register as a domestic partner. All the rights and responsibilities are also gone," Voorakkara said.

Voorakkara then attacked the other Knight petition, titled, "Marriage. Exclusive Legal Status for Married Spouses."

"It permanently bans same-sex marriage," Voorakkara said. "So therefore they can use this language in the Constitution to go to the courts, so therefore any legally recognized domestic partnership can be wiped out. It’s a two-step process."

Voorakkara added that the petition approved Monday, titled "Marriage. Elimination of Domestic Partnership Rights" was the most deceitful of the three. It "will repeal responsibilities and guarantees for legally recognized domestic partners, but couples can still register as same-sex partners. But everything that matters is taken away," Voorakkara explained.

Monday’s petition was backed by the coalition, led by Randy Thomasson of the Campaign for Children and Families, former Assemblyman Larry Bowler and Sacramento activist Ed Hernandez. The leaders announced they planned to sue Lockyer for changing the wording and the title of their petition. They claim it is prejudicial and wanted their original wording, "The Voters’ Right to Protect Marriage Act," used instead.

Nathan Barankin, a spokesman for Lockyer, told the Associated Press: "The attorney general’s responsibility is to accurately describe what the measure does."

"It’s not up to us to wage the political campaign the proponents or opponents want to wage," he said.

The issuance of an official title and amendment language means opponents of same-sex marriage may begin gathering the 598,105 signatures needed to qualify the measure for the June 2006 ballot.

But Voorakkara thinks having three competing petitions will backfire. "It is something that will definitely confuse voters. Equality For All in the meantime will be speaking out against these measures with one voice."