BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                      



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          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                  SB 1140|
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                                 THIRD READING


          Bill No:  SB 1140
          Author:   Leno (D)
          Amended:  4/23/12
          Vote:     21

           
           SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE  :  4-1, 5/1/12
          AYES:  Evans, Blakeslee, Corbett, Leno
          NOES:  Harman


           SUBJECT  :    Marriage

            SOURCE  :     California Council of Churches IMPACT 
                       Equality California


           DIGEST  :    This bill provides that marriage is a personal 
          relation arising out of a civil, and not religious, 
          contract.  This bill specifies that no priest, minister, 
          rabbi, or authorized person of any religious denomination 
          would be required to solemnize a marriage that is contrary 
          to the tenets of his/her faith.  This bill additionally 
          states that any refusal to solemnize a marriage under this 
          provision would not affect the tax exempt status of any 
          entity.

           ANALYSIS  :    Existing law enumerates persons who are 
          authorized to solemnize a marriage, including to, but not 
          limited to, any priest, minister, rabbi, or authorized 
          person of any religious denomination.  (Family Code Section 
          400)

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          Existing law provides that Congress shall make no law 
          respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the 
          free exercise thereof.  (United States Constitution, 
          Amendment 1)

          Existing law provides that free exercise and enjoyment of 
          religion without discrimination or preference are 
          guaranteed.  (California Constitution, Article I, Section 
          4)

          This bill provides that marriage is a personal relation 
          arising out of a civil, and not a religious, contract.
            
          This bill specifies that no priest, minister, rabbi, or 
          authorized person of any religious denomination would be 
          required to solemnize a marriage that is contrary to the 
          tenets of his/her faith.  

          This bill additionally states that any refusal to solemnize 
          a marriage under the above provision shall not affect the 
          tax exempt status of any entity.  

           Prior Legislation
           
          SB 906 (Leno, 2010) passed the Senate (23-11) on August 25, 
          2010 but was vetoed.  AB 43 (Leno, 2007), AB 19 (Leno, 
          2005) and AB 849 (Leno, 2005) would have enacted the 
          Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, which 
          would have provided that a marriage is a personal relation 
          arising out of a civil contract between two persons, and 
          included similar religious exemption language as this bill. 
           AB 19 did not pass the Assembly, and AB 849 and AB 43 were 
          vetoed by the Governor.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Appropriation:  No   Fiscal Com.:  No   
          Local:  No

           SUPPORT  :   (Verified  5/2/12)

          California Council of Churches IMPACT (co-source)
          Equality California (co-source)
          AFSCME, AFL-CIO
          Anti-Defamation League
          California Communities United Institute







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           OPPOSITION  :    (Verified  5/2/12)

          California Catholic Conference
          Catholics for the Common Good

           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    In support of this bill, the 
          author writes, "In the national debate surrounding marriage 
          equality, opponents argue that clergy will be forced to 
          solemnize marriages of same-sex couples or face legal 
          consequences, even when their faith does not permit or 
          support such marriages.  While proponents of marriage 
          equality disagree with the validity of this concern, citing 
          a law of evidence that clergy in states of countries with 
          marriage equality have ever experienced any such 
          consequences, they acknowledge that each state (except 
          Iowa) which has enacted a marriage equality law has also 
          enacted an explicit religious exemption. As long as there 
          is confusion over this issue, it is a valid and necessary 
          area for the legislature to act in order to clarify 
          constitutional rights."

           ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION  :    Catholic for the Common Good 
          states:

            Catholics for the Common Good strongly opposes SB 1140 as 
            it seeks to create two new and distinct types of 
            marriages in California Family Code.  This will create 
            confusion and a conflict with the state constitution, 
            which defines marriage.

            Marriage is a reality that serves a public purpose; it is 
            the only institution that unites a man and a woman with 
            each other and any children born from their union.  It is 
            the same reality that has been recognized by every 
            society, culture, and religion, each with its own 
            competency.  It is the same reality that is recognized 
            under current law by the state and religions.  There is 
            no justification or public interest for changing that.

            Proponents of the bill argue that there is concern by 
            various religions that if marriage is redefined as merely 
            the public recognition of a committed relationship to 
            accommodate same-sex couples, religions would be forced 







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            to recognize or solemnize such weddings.  That is not a 
            concern, since the state has no competence or authority 
            to tell religions who is qualified or not for marriage 
            according to their faith.  If the state were to try to 
            impose religious qualifications, it would clearly be 
            violation of the First Amendment regarding the 
            establishment of a state religion by dictating what 
            people of faith must do in the course of practicing their 
            religion.

            If the bill's sponsors were truly concerned and serious 
            about providing protection for people of faith, they 
            could provide conscience and freedom of religious 
            expression provisions that would protect institutions and 
            individuals from discrimination and abuse should they 
            fail to make facilities available or provide services to 
            people or events that conflict with their witness of the 
            unique value of marriage to children and society, and the 
            public interest in promoting that men and women marry 
            before they have children .

            Without serious religious expression protections, the 
            only consequence of the bill seems to be adding confusion 
            and conflict related to the only public institution that 
            unites children with their natural mothers and fathers.  
            We, therefore, respectfully ask the members of the 
            Judiciary Committee to vote "no" on SB 1140.


          RJG:kc  5/3/12   Senate Floor Analyses 

                         SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

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