After the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex marriage to resume in California last summer, people started getting their vows on pretty much right away.
But California law still contained antiquated language that defined marriage as “a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between a man and a woman.”
It didn't prevent people from getting hitched. But it just wasn't right. So California Sen. Mark Leno set about fixing the legal definition of marriage for Golden State couples that now include grooms and grooms and brides and brides:
Marriage is now a civil contract between “two persons” under Leno's bill, SB 1306. It was signed into law yesterday by Gov. Jerry Brown, Leno's office announced.
His spokesman told us the new wording will take effect Jan. 1. Leno himself said in a statement:
I am pleased Governor Brown has recognized the importance of this bill, which makes it explicitly clear in state law that every loving couple has the right to marry in California. This legislation removes outdated and biased language from state codes and recognizes all married spouses equally, regardless of their gender.
The law also replaces a reference to couples taking each other as “husband and wife” to couples taking each other as “spouses.”
“Spouse” and “persons,” in fact, make many appearances in the law. Leno's search-and-replace function for “husband and wife” was clearly working overtime when he drafted this.
And “an unmarried man and an unmarried woman” becomes “two unmarried people.”
National Center for Lesbian Rights executive director Kate Kendell says:
Although there is no question that same-sex couples can marry in California, the discriminatory language that remains on the statutory books creates confusion about the rights of same-sex couples. This law makes it clear to everyone that same-sex couples can marry and that all spouses have the exact same rights and responsibilities under the law, regardless of gender.
OK then. Marry on.