California’s openly gay Assemblyman Mark Leno announced that he would re-introduce legislation to allow lesbian and gay couples to marry in California.  Similar 2005 legislation did pass through the Senate and Assembly only to be vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Assemblyman Leno wants California to recognize gay marriage as a civil contract obtained from county clerks, not the church.

Currently, we lesbian and gay Californian’s are not permitted to marry our same-sex partners, but we can register as domestic partners and receive benefits. 

The Sacramento Bee quotes Leno as comparing domestic partnership benefits to "separate but equal" accommodations.

Now where have I heard that before?

But all I really want to know is if this is going to be a fight that’s exclusive rather than inclusive…again?

Will Black, Latino, Asian and other minorities be used at the back end…again, when it’s time to build support in our communities because after all, they do need to see faces that look like theirs?

Or, will minority SGL/LGBT communities be a part of this fight from the beginning including helping to shape the legislation and participating in the entire process?

I think for me, that’s going to really determine whether or not I invest myself in this fight.  Which is not to say that I don’t want to see lesbian and gay couples obtain the right to marry in California, but not at that expense of being used as a “Black” face that’s only good for talking to other “Black” faces.

And for me to invest myself in this struggle, the gay community here in California is going to have prove that it cares about more than just the gay community here in California.

There are numerous issues that are affecting poor Black and Latino SGL/LGBT people that the gay community here has never really invested itself in, more often than not, these are issues of class and access. 

I guess we’ll find out in the near future how this battle is going to be fought and it’s either going to be with is or without us.  But one thing’s for sure, we are not starting out on the right foot if only one part of the community knew that Leno was planning to announce this on Friday.

Oh and incidentally, since the November General Election, California’s Legislative Black Caucus grew to 9 members.  Not one of them is signed on as a co-author to Leno’s AB 43 Same-Sex Marriage bill, not even my boss, who wasn’t even asked personally.

I have since spoken to Leno’s office who assured me that they reached out to Black lawmakers but received no reply back.

I am wondering now if Leno went to the members personally and asked them or if this was all done by email and fax. 

The co-authors are as follows:

Assembly Members Leno, Laird, and Lieber

(Principal coauthors: Senators Kehoe, Kuehl, Migden, and Perata)

(Coauthors: Assembly Members Alarcon, Berg, Brownley, Coto, De
Leon, Eng, Evans, Feuer, Hancock, Hayashi, Huffman, Jones, Levine,
Ma, Mullin, Portantino, Ruskin, Saldana, and Soto)

(Coauthors: Senators Alquist, Calderon, Cedillo, Lowenthal,
Oropeza, Romero, Steinberg, Torlakson, Wiggins, and Yee)

Note that there are members of the Latino Caucus and Asian Caucus signed on as co-authors but no Blacks.  But alas, I am sure they will be beating down the doors of the Black lawmakers today trying to right that wrong.