The California Senate has approved a plan to replace “man and woman” in state references to marriage with “two persons,” establishing a same-sex marriage procedure in the state that just seven years ago voted to limit marriage to one man and one woman.

The 22-15 vote came on homosexual Assemblyman Mark Leno’s proposal to open marriage to any pair in the state, not just those couples made up of a man and a woman. All Republicans opposed AB43, while all but three Democratic senators supported it.

The bill now goes to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for his signature or veto. He has given ambiguous signals about his support for the latest proposal, but earlier vetoed a similar proposal.

However, in Schwarzenegger’s answers to questions from the state Supreme Court he suggested the “use of the words ‘marry’ and ‘marriage’ is not required by the California Constitution. Thus, the name of the legal relationship now known as ‘marriage’ could be changed.”

As WND has reported, Schwarzenegger has expressed the opinion that legally, the term “marriage” can be terminated, because registered “domestic partners” already have all of the same legal rights, benefits, duties and obligations as married couples.

The governor continued, “Except for the ability to choose and declare one’s life partner in a reciprocal commitment of mutual support, any of the statutory rights and obligations that are afforded to married couples in California could be abrogated or eliminated by the Legislature or the electorate for any rational legislative purpose.”

That court solicited comments from Schwarzenegger because it is considering a case that challenges the state’s 2000 Proposition 22 vote in which voters expressed the desire to limit marriage to a man and a woman.

The answers contained in Attorney General Jerry Brown’s brief were nearly a duplicate of Schwarzenegger’s.

“The State is not aware of any differences between the legal rights and benefits and the legal obligations and duties affecting registered domestic partners under California law and the rights, benefits, duties and obligations given to married couples,” his response said.

Further, Brown wrote that the state constitution “does not contain a specifically enumerated right to marry,” although cases have implied that.

“The State submits that the words ‘marry’ and ‘marriage’ have no essential constitutional significance,” he said. “Thus the Legislature could change the name of the legal relationship now known as ‘marriage’ to some other name without any constitutional impediment,” Brown said.

Marriage supporters are vowing to fight back.

“Marriage between a man and a woman will continue to be targeted for destruction by politicians and judges unless we fully and permanently protect this sacred institution in the California State Constitution,” said former Assemblyman Larry Bowler, a proponent of the petition drive.

“Until the people fund, qualify and pass the VoteYesMarriage,com amendment, marriage will be threatened with destruction and eventual extinction. Even Gov. Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Brown have said that the Legislature has the power to abolish marriage and yank marriage rights from husbands and wives.”

Petition drive organizers said while the passage of the same-sex marriage plan was objectionable, the real danger rests in the court ruling expected next year. They believe the court will rule that homosexual “marriages” are allowed in all of California, overturning Proposition 22, which was endorsed by nearly two-thirds of California voters.

However, Proposition 22 was a statute, and not a constitutional amendment, and since that vote lawmakers and courts have been whittling away at its meaning. One court decision concluded the proposition protected the word “marriage,” but not any associated rights or privileges.

“Time is running out for generous souls to leave the legacy of marriage to future generations through the amendment,” said Randy Thomasson, one of the drive’s organizers.

“If we don’t rescue marriage now, marriage for a man and a woman can easily be destroyed in the law. But our democracy is founded on government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” he said. “It’s time for the people to rise up to protect marriage rights once and for all for one man and one woman.”

Thomasson also noted there is a majority of judges on the state Supreme Court bench in San Francisco to “destroy the definition of marriage and utterly shred the people’s vote on marriage.”

Homosexual advocates praised the Senate’s move.

“It’s the people’s representatives in the largest state in the nation doing this,” said Geoff Kors, of Equality California, a homosexual advocacy organization.

Others had a different perspective.

“Twenty-one Democrats in the Senate took it upon themselves to redefine marriage,” said Benjamin Lopez, who lobbies for the family oriented Traditional Values Coalition. “They’re saying that 4.6 million Californians are wrong.”

California’s decision is not the same as recent moves in Connecticut, or Vermont, where “civil unions” were instituted. Massachusetts is the only state to grant full marriage rights to homosexuals.

After the 2000 vote, San Francisco officials started, on their own, issuing marriage licenses to homosexual duos. The state Supreme Court struck that down, setting up the case now pending before the state Supreme Court.

As WND reported just weeks ago, state lawmakers have been largely supportive of an agenda pursuing homosexual marriage rights.

Senate Bill 11, authored by state Sen. Carole Migden of San Francisco, for example, was written to provide all the rights of “marriage” to unmarried men and women.

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Previous stories:

Gov. Arnold says ‘marriage’ can be terminated

California handing out marriage privileges

‘Marriage’ to become museum piece

Homosexual marriage minces west to California

Court will decide if California voters were right

Vote or pay us damages, group tells lawmakers

7 more states say no to ‘gay marriage’

Same-sex rulings will ‘echo’ across U.S.

Senate rejects ‘gay marriage’ ban

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