FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | April 20, 2004
NCLR Clients Testify in Favor of Historic Marriage Equality Bill California Assembly Judiciary Committee Votes 8-3 in Favor of Bill
(San Francisco, CA, April 20, 2004) — Today the California Assembly Judiciary Committee voted 8 to 3 in favor of A.B. 1967, the Marriage License Non-Discrimination Act, a bill authored by Assemblymember Mark Leno and sponsored by Equality California, the state's largest LGBT civil rights organization. NCLR assisted in drafting the bill, which would amend the state's marriage statutes to eliminate any gender-based restrictions on who may marry in California.
At today's hearing, Lancy Woo and Cristy Chung, the lead plaintiffs in NCLR's San Francisco lawsuit challenging the exclusion of same-sex couples from eligibility to marry in California, testified in favor of the bill. Lancy and Cristy have been together for 16 years and have a five year old daughter Olivia. During her testimony, Cristy talked about the discrimination faced by her parents because they were an interracial couple, including opposition from family members and others who opposed their marriage. "My parents' struggle and the struggle of Lancy and I to get married are not that different," Cristy noted. Cristy said she hoped that their daughter would be able to grow up in a world where there are many families with same-sex married parents.
NCLR clients Johnny Symons and William Rogers also testified in support of the bill. Johnny and William are NCLR clients in a lawsuit defending the validity of A.B. 205, the California Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2003, which has been challenged by two anti-gay organizations seeking to prevent the law from going into effect. Johnny and William testified about their 10 year relationship and about their two children, ages 2 and 4.
"This is an historic day," said Kate Kendell, NCLR's Executive Director. "This vote demonstrates that our elected officials understand the unfairness of denying an entire class of people hundreds of important rights and responsibilities, and relegating them to second class status."
Also testifying in support of the bill were Shannon Minter, NCLR's Legal Director, Geoffrey Kors, Executive Director of Equality California, and Assemblymember Jackie Goldberg, the author of A.B. 205.
Today's vote marks the first time in our nation's history that a state legislative body has voted in favor of marriage equality for same-sex couples. The bill now moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Separately, a trial court in Oregon held today that denying same-sex couples the rights and responsibilities granted to different-sex married couples violates the Oregon Constitution.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.