Late Thursday afternoon, Bill May, Chair of Catholics for the Common Good, sent out a breathless alert urging his followers to immediately contact their Assemblymember to stop Senate Bill 906, authored by openly gay state Sen. Mark Leno (pictured).
"[S]o far it has failed to get the 41 votes needed to pass. They are holding the vote open for the rest of the day to twist more arms for its passage. We don't know who has voted or not. To be safe, please contact your Assembly member right away and ask him or her to vote "NO".
The bill is very deceptive. It appears to be harmless and well intentioned, but it is really a Trojan horse sponsored by the opponents of Prop 8. It is another slap at the 7 million voters who passed it. The outcome of this bill is important as we are confident the current legal defense of Prop 8 will be eventually successful."
And May instructs his followers to PRAY, Pray, pray....
How deceptive and harmless is it? May continues:
"SB 906 seeks to cause confusion by creating a new 'civil' class of marriage, implying it is different from religious marriage. It also creates the illusion of new protections for 'religious' marriage by essentially saying that religions can't be forced to change their doctrine on marriage (which is already prohibited by the 1st Amendment). It is clear this bill will be used to fool the voters into thinking that same-sex 'marriage' will have no impact on churches and people of faith."
Wait - isn't that a good thing, that religions won't be "forced" to change their doctrine on marriage? Isn't there already a distinction between civil and religious marriage - I mean, don't folks who marry in a church have to get a civil license first? May continues:
"SB 906 is nothing but a thinly veiled attempt to put superfluous provisions in law that can be used to confuse voters when same-sex 'marriage' proponents mount their effort to repeal Prop 8. See the letter that I sent to Assembly members opposing this bill and more details on how this deceptive bill works."
Oh, so the entire state Legislature is being deceived by those cunning gays? May asks for prayers to defeat the bill "to protect all the reality of marriage and the future of families." So what does it mean that the Legislature passed the Civil Marriage Religious Freedom Act (SB 906) in a 46-25 vote? Think God heard gay prayers instead? Or maybe God thinks there should be a clearer separation between church and state, too
The Leno bill was co-sponsored by Equality California and California Council of Churches IMPACT. The premise, according to an EQCA press release, is to
"protect clergy from performing any civil marriage that is contrary to the tenets of his or her faith. The bill also protects religious institutions from losing their tax-exempt status for refusing to perform any civil marriage, and deepens the distinction in state law between religious and civil marriage by defining the latter as a civil contract that requires a state-issued marriage license."
And yes, as Geoff Kors, EQCA's executive director points out, this bill will help clarify issues should there be an effort to repeal Prop 8:
"Opponents of marriage equality have falsely claimed that allowing same-sex couples to marry will force clergy to violate the tenets of their faiths. This bill should alleviate any concerns that restoring marriage equality will require clergy to perform weddings inconsistent with their faith."
"This bill simply affirms that California is a diverse state, and that we can all co-exist and make space for each others' beliefs without compromising the tenets of any religious group or individual. With the recent federal court ruling, we know that marriage for same-sex couples in California is on the horizon. Under the Civil Marriage Religious Freedom Act, churches and clergy members who fear their religious views are threatened by marriage equality will have clear and solid protections under state law. In addition, churches that welcome same-sex couples will continue to fully recognize those families within their faith."
SB 906 now returns to the Senate floor for a concurrence vote before heading to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk.
To find out more information about EQCA's legislation, visit www.eqca.org/legislation.
Update from Bill May after SB 906 passed:
SB 906 passed the CA State Assembly yesterday with 51 votes, including those of two Republicans--Sam Blakeslee of San Louis Obispo and Nathan Fletcher of San Diego. Two Assemblymembers abstained from voting, both Democrats--Wilmer Carter of Rialto and Cathleen Galgiani of Tracy. (See complete voting results below.)
There was no significant floor debate. Floor Manager Arambula of Fresno presented the bill and Assemblymember Norby of Irvine offered the only opposition--stating that the bill was not necessary and that the protections that it sought to provide to religious groups are already guaranteed by the First Amendment.
The next step for this bill, after the Senate concurs with a technical change, is the Governor's desk. We need to strongly seek his veto when it gets there.
This Trojan Horse bill, sponsored by the same groups that oppose Prop 8, and lays ground work for their effort to repeal Prop 8 by initiative. They are attacking marriage using every angle--through the courts, legislation designed to fool voters, and recruiting volunteers on the street.
We are in the middle of a war to protect and defend Prop 8 and marriage that unites a man and a woman with each other and any children that comes from the relationship. It is urgent that we mobilize and organize. Now is not the time for hand-wringing and frustration but the time for action.
CCG's positive, reality-based approach to promoting marriage and family provides practical tools for everyday Catholics to discuss marriage effectively. The army to take back marriage and family is growing in communities all over California.
For too long the focus has been about homosexuality and alternative life styles. This issue has nothing to do with that. What is at stake is whether our children will be taught that marriage is an institution for the private interest of adults or unites a man and a woman with each other and any children that come from the relationship. If we are going to regain the offense and promote the centrality and integrity of marriage, now is the time to act and we need you.
See the list of upcoming regional events and register today. CCG's revolutionary approach to promoting marriage is having great effect and gaining national attention from Catholic and secular media. Join the community shaping the future of marriage and family.
We ask you to join us in prayer that this legislation will ultimately be defeated to protect the reality of marriage and the future of families. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord, through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
For the Common Good,
Chairman, Catholics for the Common Good
415 651 4171
415 738 0421 (Fax)
Cross-posted from LGBT POV.