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National News
Section One
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National News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

California recognizes over seven years of Gay marriages from elsewhere
A bill signed October 12 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recognizes as fully married any Gay couple in California who got married between April 1, 2001, and November 5, 2008, in a country or state where same-sex marriage is legal.

On April 1, 2001, the Netherlands became the first place in the world where same-sex couples could marry. The new law also recognizes same-sex marriages that took place in Massachusetts, Canada, Spain, Belgium and South Africa prior to November 5, 2008, when California voters amended their constitution to re-ban same-sex marriage, which had been legal for four and one-half months.

The state Supreme Court later ruled that the new ban, Proposition 8, cannot be applied retroactively, and declared that 18,000 Gay couples who married in California while it was legal remain married. The new law affirms that such recognition also extends to Gay couples who got married anywhere else before Prop 8 passed.

The law also extends all state marriage rights - except the right to call their marriage a "marriage" - to same-sex couples who got married anywhere in the world after November 5, 2008, or who do so in the future. California's domestic-partnership law grants same-sex couples every state-level right and obligation of marriage except the right to call their union "marriage."

Since November 5, 2008, same-sex marriage also has become legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, Norway and Sweden.

"We are grateful that the governor has signed this critical bill, which provides much-needed protections for same-sex couples who have legally married out of state, or will in the future, and who deserve to be treated like any other married couple," said Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors. "This bill will allow same-sex couples to get married in other states and countries and ensure they are treated equally under the law when they return to California. Ultimately, however, restoring the freedom to marry is the only way to ensure that all Californians receive the dignity and respect that comes with marriage."

Obama opposes Maine, Washington referenda
Prodded by The Advocate, the White House issued a statement October 16 opposing the November 3 referendum in Maine that would repeal the same-sex marriage law passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor. The law has not yet taken effect pending the referendum's outcome. The statement also opposes the referendum in Washington state that would undo the "all but marriage" domestic-partnership law. The referendum opposing domestic partnerships has been delayed from coming into force by the November 3 Referendum 71.

The White House statement does not specifically name the two states, although The Advocate's query did. The statement says: "The president has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples, and as he said at the Human Rights Campaign dinner, he believes 'strongly in stopping laws designed to take rights away.' Also at the dinner, he said he supports, 'ensuring that committed Gay couples have the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple in this country.'"

Same-sex marriage is legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts and Vermont, and becomes legal in New Hampshire in January. It will become legal in Maine on November 4 if the "Question 1" referendum fails.

Same-sex couples also can marry in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain and Sweden.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

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pictures - top:Netherlands
below: California marriage
bottom: Obama at HRC Dinner
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