Calif. amend. qualifies; suit filed in N.Y.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (BP)--A proposed constitutional amendment in California to prohibit "gay marriage" and reverse the controversial decision by the state's high court has qualified for the ballot, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced June 2.

Meanwhile, the pro-family Alliance Defense Fund filed a lawsuit June 3 against New York Gov. David Paterson, asserting that his directive ordering state agencies to recognize out-of-state "gay marriages" exceeded his authority. The suit was filed on behalf of 16 state taxpayers, including two state senators and three state assemblymen. The suit states that the governor "does not have authority to declare which unions will be recognized as valid marriages in New York" and that such authority belongs to the legislature.

The news out of California comes as the California Supreme Court considers whether to delay its May 15 ruling legalizing "gay marriage" from going into effect until after the November election. If the stay -- requested by legal groups such as Liberty Counsel and the Alliance Defense Fund -- is not granted, same-sex couples can begin "marrying" in California June 17.

"Now that we know for certain the California Marriage Protection Act will appear on the November ballot, the California Supreme Court must stay its decision," Liberty Counsel founder and attorney Mathew D. Staver said in a news release. "Issuing a stay is the only course of action."

Liberty Counsel and others assert that legal chaos will ensue if "gay marriages" are permitted for five months, only to be prohibited by voters on Election Day. Such a scenario would "create innumerable complex legal questions" about the status of the "marriages" performed, a legal brief by the Alliance Defense Fund states.

Amendment supporters submitted 1.1 million signatures, far more than the 690,000 required.

The California court's ruling has served to unite the two pro-family camps that, for more than two years, promoted competing marriage amendments. The one that made the ballot was backed by a coalition known as ProtectMarriage.com. The other coalition was known as VoteYesMarriage.com and never got off the ground this go-round. A new statement on the VoteYesMarriage.com website thanks supporters but says "funds were insufficient" to "wage a professional multi-million-dollar statewide signature-gathering campaign."

"In defense of marriage licenses between a man and a woman, we urge you to vote for the California Marriage Protection Act, which is being led by the ProtectMarriage.com campaign," a statement on the VoteYesMarriage.com campaign says.

In 2006, each of the two coalitions gathered signatures but failed to get an amendment on the ballot that year.

ProtectMarriage.com's amendment was backed by Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, the Alliance Defense Fund and Concerned Women for America. VoteYesMarriage.com's amendment was supported by Liberty Counsel, the American Family Association, Campaign for Children and Families and the Traditional Values Coalition.

The disagreement centered on whether the ProtectMarriage.com amendment was strong enough and, on the flip side, whether the VoteYesMarriage.com amendment could pass during a statewide general election. Both amendments would have prohibited "gay marriage," but the VoteYesMarriage.com amendment was worded such that it could have banned same-sex domestic partnerships already legal in the state. ProtectMarriage.com officials had conducted internal polling and argued their amendment was the only one that could pass at the ballot. VoteYesMarriage.com officials said their own polling showed their amendment would pass.

But now, those divisions apparently are gone.

"The people of California will have the final say on marriage," Liberty Counsel's Staver said. "I have no doubt that when the people vote, they will affirm marriage as one man and one woman."


Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Michael Foust.

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