Proposition 8 redux? California bill allows gay couples married elsewhere

A proposed law to recognize a growing number of same-sex marriages performed in other states and countries is winding its way through California's Legislature.

Opponents of gay marriage say Senate Bill 54 violates Proposition 8, a voter initiative approved last November that amended the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

The bill's sponsor contends that his proposed changes to state family law are consistent with the California Supreme Court's nuanced decision in May to uphold Proposition 8.

The court's decision upheld the right of voters to bar gay couples from the label "marriage," acknowledged SB 54's author, Sen. Mark Leno, an openly gay Democrat from San Francisco.

But the court, Leno noted, also upheld an estimated 18,000 same-sex marriages performed in California before the gay-marriage ban was approved. Those marriages took place after the justices ruled in May 2008, in a separate decision, that California's constitution at that time did not prevent same-sex marriage.

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