Governor Brown Signs Bill Enshrining the Freedom to Marry in State Statutes

On July 7, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1306, authored by Sen. Mark Leno and co-sponsored by Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, Equality California and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. The bill will bring California statutory law into line with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 decision restoring the freedom to marry in California.

While both the California and U.S. Supreme Courts have affirmed the right for same-sex couples to marry, current state laws in many cases do not reflect that change. SB 1306 ensures that references to “husband” and “wife” will be replaced with gender-neutral language such as “spouse” to recognize all married couples throughout the California code.

“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,” said Sen. Leno. “This legislation removes outdated and biased language from state codes and recognizes all married spouses equally, regardless of their gender.”

“While we have achieved many milestones in the journey towards full equality for LGBT people — including the freedom to marry for same-sex couples — it’s important that we completely erase discrimination from the books,” said Rick Zbur, executive director-elect of EQCA. “This new law will take us one step further in that journey. We applaud Senator Leno for authoring this important legislation and Gov. Brown for signing it.”

“We are grateful for Sen. Leno’s legislation that will ensure the fair and equal treatment of all married couples in California,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell. “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.”

SB 1306 officially becomes law on January 1, 2015.

Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy organization in California. For more than a decade, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to a state with some of the most comprehensive human rights protections in the nation. Equality California has partnered with legislators to successfully sponsor 96 pieces of pro-equality legislation. EQCA continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, electoral work, public education and community empowerment.