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Ban state marriages? Um, probably not this election cycle

March 17, 2009 |  2:38 pm

Ring A California Supreme Court justice found the idea intriguing. So did the Times editorial board: To ensure equal marriage rights, the state of California could consider getting out of the marriage business altogether, performing and recognizing civil unions for all. People who want marriage could go to the church or other private group of their choice, and those churches or groups would be free to recognize only the marriages that fit within their beliefs.

Practically within moments after Justice Ming W. Chin posed that scenario to lawyers on both sides of the Proposition 8 debate, two college students from Studio City stepped into the fray. They received permission from the Secretary of State to circulate petitions for an initiative to do that very thing: Substitute "domestic partnership" for "marriage" in state law and while we're at it, undo Proposition 8. My first questions were of the more substantive sort, like, shouldn't we talk about this for awhile first? Would we be undoing the marriages of people who opted for a civil ceremony in earlier years and figured they were married good and proper? What would happen to joint tax filings for the federal government? And wouldn't "civil union" be a more acceptable term to voters than "domestic partnership"?

Then I read the proposed initiative in its entirety and realized that my worries might be a little premature. The real questions are, Just how easy is it to get permission to circulate petitions for an initiatives? Shouldn't the wording have to pass some sort of writing test?

The proposed measure calls for the term "marriage" to be removed from government legislation. The State of California's Law code would have "marriage" replaced with "domestic partnership," while the definition and rights provided would remain the same. The purpose of which is to provide quality amongst all couples, regardless of sexual orientation, without offending the religious sect. Legally speaking, "Marriage" itself would become a social ceremony, recognized by only non-governmental institutions. Furthermore, the initiative would void Proposition 8."

Ali Shams, one of the two authors and a senior at UC San Diego, told me that he and pal Kaelan Housewright were operating via Facebook, though they would get an Internet page going soon, and were posting copies of the petition online in the hopes that volunteers would print them and collect 1.2 million signatures. The new faces of politics. At least they're involved in the process.

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