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    Council Gives Final Approval To Resolution Supporting Civil Marriage Licenses For Same Sex Couples

    (October 18, 2006) -- The City Council has voted 9-0 to give final approval to a resolution (text below) supporting civil marriage licenses for same sex couples.

    The item was scheduled for the Council's "consent calendar" (no discussion expected) at the Oct. 17 Council meeting...but was pulled for individual discussion.

    Three individuals spoke in opposition. Roughly twice as many spoke in support.

    Opponent Larry Goodhue challenged a figure of 80,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transvestite (LGBT) LB residents, which Councilmembers S. Lowenthal, Vice Mayor B. Lowenthal and Councilman P. O'Donnell had attributed to the 2000 Census in their original agendizing memo.

    Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal acknowledged that the figure actually stems from a UCLA Law School report ("Williams Project") in which she said "approximately 74,000 individuals were identified in 2000 and since then reasonable estimates have indicated that 6,000 LGBT residents have moved to Long Beach since 2000."

    Mayor Bob Foster said that "as was pointed out last time [previous hearing], it's not a matter of numbers, it's a matter of right."

    Below is the text of a resolution:

    [begin text]


    WHEREAS, City of Long Beach has, by local policy, ordinance and practice, shown its commitment to fair and equitable treatment of all persons regardless of gender or sexual orientation ; and

    WHEREAS, City of Long Beach is home to more than 80,000 LGBT residents and families headed by same sex couples, many with children ; and

    WHEREAS, both the United States Constitution and California Constitution clearly state no laws will be made or enforced that abridge the privileges and immunities of its citizens and residents ; and

    WHEREAS, both the United States Constitution and California Constitution clearly state that no person within its jurisdiction will be denied equal protection under their laws ; and

    WHEREAS, the right to marry is recognized under the United States Constitution as a fundamental liberty interest ; and

    WHEREAS, providing equal access to civil marriage will not require religious institutions to perform or recognize marriages that conflict with their particular religious traditions or beliefs ; and

    WHEREAS, the opportunity to publicly and legally commit to share one's life with a person of one's choice is for many people one of the most central aspects of human experience ; and the denial of marriage to same sex couples is a denial of fundamental civil rights; and

    WHEREAS, denying civil marriage to individuals who are gay or lesbian deprives them of state and federal rights, privileges, immunities, protections and responsibilities ; and

    WHEREAS, families headed by gay or lesbians deserve the same rights and legal protections as other families under the law, including the protection of their spousal rights and privileges and protection of their children's economic interests by ensuring their access to the resource of both parents ; and

    WHEREAS, the inability to access these legal protections may result in significant harm to these individuals and families, including financial insecurity, deprivation of real property interests, lack of retirement and death benefits and lack of standing in access to family court for dissolution ; and

    WHEREAS, no resident of City of Long Beach should be refused equal protection under the law ; and

    WHEREAS, discriminatory laws undermine the State of California's commitment to equality, privacy, liberty and justice for all of its citizens, as well as undermining civil marriage itself.

    NOW, THEREFORE, the City Council of the City of Long Beach resolves as follows:

    Section 1 . The City of Long Beach hereby declares its support for civil marriage licenses and any enactments which codify civil marriage equality for all couples residing in California who are citizens or legal residents of the United States.

    Sec. 2 . The City Clerk is directed to transmit a copy of this resolution to our elected representatives in State and Federal government.

    Sec. 3 . The City of Long Beach requests the State and Federal government to act with vigor to develop laws to allow marriage equality for same sex couples and to defend same sex civil marriages and protect the fundamental liberties of all families.

    Sec. 4 . This resolution shall take effect immediately upon its adoption by the City Council, and the City Clerk shall certify the vote adopting this resolution.

    In March 2000, CA voters approved Proposition 22, restricting marriage to unions between men and women. It carried in Long Beach by a 56.8% "yes" (citywide) to 43.2% "no." In L.A. County, Prop 22 had 58.6% voting "yes" and 41.4% voting "no"; in OC, "yes" votes were 69.2% to 30.8% "no."

    At the Oct. 10 Council meeting, Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal addressed the issue of Prop. 22 :

    Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal: "[M]ajoritarian whims or prejudices are never sufficient to sustain a law that deprives individuals of fundamental rights, and it is our job as elected officials to end such deprivation. We have so many historical cases of discrimination across this country, where it was actually codified into law, and it was a society that evolved that brings us here today." [Extended excerpts below]

    The LB City Council's action now comes amid escalating challenges to CA's ban on same sex marriages. In early 2004, the City/County of San Francisco defied Prop 22 and other CA laws banning same-sex marriages by issuing marriage licenses (subsequently invalidated by a court) contending the prohibition violates constitutional equal protection rights.

    On October 5, 2006, a state Court of Appeal ruled 2-1 that the "legislature and the voters of this state have determined that 'marriage' in California is an institution reserved for opposite-sex couples, and it makes no difference whether we agree with their reasoning...We may not strike down a law simply because we think it unwise or because we believe there is a fairer way of dealing with the problem." Proponents of same-sex marriage say they will now appeal to the CA Supreme Court.

    Related coverage:

  • Council Votes 9-0 To Direct Preparation Of Resolution Supporting Civil Marriage Licenses For Same Sex Couples; Exact Text Will Return To Council For Final Vote In Coming Weeks

  • Vice Mayor B. Lowenthal, Councilmembers S. Lowenthal & O'Donnell Seek Resolution Supporting Civil Marriage Licenses For Same Sex Couples

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