California Becomes First State to Recognize LGBT Leader
SACRAMENTO – Two bills by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) to bring recognition to Harvey Milk and out-of-state same sex marriages were signed into law late yesterday. Governor Schwarzenegger approved SB 572 (Chapter 626) to create Harvey Milk Day, a day of special of special significance in California honoring the state’s first openly gay elected official. Also approved by the Governor was SB 54 (Chapter 625) which resolves ambiguities about how out-of-state same-sex marriages will be recognized in California.
“I am pleased the Governor recognized the historic and international nature of Harvey Milk’s contributions and legacy” said Senator Leno, Chair of California’s LGBT Legislative Caucus. “Milk is an inspiration to people worldwide who believe in fairness and equality and he fought for many of the issues we value today, including access to education, public transportation, affordable housing and protecting the environment.”
SB 572 recognizes Harvey Milk’s life and contributions to the state by designating May 22 as a day of special significance.
Senator Leno’s bill to establish the legal status of out-of –state marriages was also signed into law. Senate Bill 54 will clarify that same-sex couples who married outside of California before Proposition 8 went into effect last year are recognized as married spouses, not unlike the 18,000 same-sex marriages performed in California. The legislation also confirms that same-sex couples who married outside California after Prop 8 went into effect on November 5, 2008, or plan to do so in the future, must receive the same rights, protections, benefits, obligations and responsibilities afforded to opposite-sex spouses, with the sole exception of the designation of “marriage.”
“I applaud the Governor for ending the legal limbo in which many married same-sex couples are finding themselves. When California offered marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2008, spouses who were already married in another state or country were prohibited from re-marrying in California,” said Senator Leno. “Now those couples and their families will receive the rights and protections under the law to which they are entitled. This legislation ensures that same-sex couples are protected by existing California law that recognizes all marriages equally, regardless of where they are performed.”
Both bills were sponsored by Equality California and were co-authored by members of the LGBT Legislative Caucus, including Senator Christine Kehoe and Assemblymembers Tom Ammiano and John A. Pérez. Both bills take effect on January 1, 2010.