HOUSTON VOICE www.houstonvoice.com
JUNE 3, 2005
HRC, Task Force pool money to fight Calif, amendment
MARRIAGE, continued from Page 1
sonal relation arising out of a civil contract between two persons."
The gender-neutral language was used
in the California Family Code between
1850 and 1977.
The bill, which has 30 sponsors, also
states that no priest, minister, or rabbi of
any religious denomination, and no official of any non-profit religious institution
will be required to carry out any wedding
in violation of his or her right to the free
exercise of religion.
Political observers said that if the bill
passes the House it is likely to pass the
Senate, before heading to the desk of
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Schwarzenegger has not said whether
he would sign the bill. A spokesperson for
the governor said that he will have about
two weeks to decide, should it be approved
by the Senate and sent to his desk in
August as expected.
"This bill would make a mockery of
marriage," said Mathew Staver, president
and general counsel for the Liberty
Counsel, the legal wing of Rev. Jerry
'Drain marriage of its essence'
Staver said that AB 19 would "drain
marriage of its essence, objective, and
common sense purpose." The purpose of
marriage is for procreation and raising
children so they are in an environment
with gender duality, Staver said, it is an
essential role of government to be able to
Staver claimed that the people of
California voiced opposition to same-sex
marriage by adopting Proposition 22,
which prohibits recognition of same-sex
marriage, in 2000.
Gay rights activists, legal scholars and
social conservatives disagree over whether
Proposition 22 was intended to keep other
states from forcing California to recognize
same-sex marriages performed elsewhere
or whether it was intended to ban all samesex marriages.
California has a unique ballot initiative
system in which citizens can enact laws
through a statewide voter initiative; legislation enacted in this way cannot be
changed by the Assembly.
Staver said that if AB 19 passes, the
Liberty Counsel would sue to overturn it on
the grounds that it violates Proposition 22.
The constitutionality of Prop 22 itself
is also in question. On April 14, Judge
Richard Kramer of the San Francisco
Superior Court ruled that Prop 22 violated
the equal protection clause of the
California Constitution and unfairly discriminated against same-sex couples.
Last week, California Attorney General
Bill Lockyer filed an appeal of the trial
court decision in the San Francisco-based
1st District Court of Appeals. Lockyer has
said that he supports gay rights and is
simply fulfilling his responsibility to
uphold state law.
If same-sex marriage becomes legal in
California through the passage of AB 19, the
lawsuits over the constitutionality of state
laws against same-sex marriage would probably be set aside, said Barbara Cox, professor at California Western School of Law.
According to Staver, the legislature's
actions are the least important in the hierarchy of California lawmaking because a
ballot measure can override a bill passed by
the legislature and the constitution trumps
even laws adopted by ballot initiative.
Assembly defeated attempt
Bills to amend the California
Constitution to ban same-sex marriage as
well as the recognition of domestic partnerships were defeated in the Senate and
Assembly judiciary committees earlier
Those bills, if passed into law, would
have repealed legal protections for lesbians and gays and their families including benefits they already have under
California's domestic partnership laws.
Following this defeat, social conservative groups announced a campaign to
amend the constitution by ballot initiative
to ban same-sex marriage and recognition
of domestic partnerships.
"It's high time that we the people override
the judges and politicians who've been
relentlessly attacking marriage," said Randy
Thomasson, an initiative organizer. "This
vitally important ballot initiative empowers
average Californians to stop the insanity of
judges and politicians flushing our precious
vote on marriage down the drain."
Initiative proponents have begun fund-
raising, expect to begin circulating petitions in July and to have the measure on
the ballot in a June 2006 election.
According to Equality California, a
statewide gay civil rights group, a coalition
of more than 200 religious, labor and civil
liberties groups called Equality for All has
formed to oppose the proposed constitutional amendment. In news conferences in
Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego,
the group said, that the ballot measure, if
passed, would hurt millions of same-sex
couples and their families and others by
denying them essential legal protections.
"The effort to target one category of
people — in this case gays and lesbians —
for reduced rights has profound implications for all of us," Rabbi Doug Kahn,
executive director of the Jewish
Community Relations Council said. "What
Researchers pursue post-HIV vaccine
By RYAN LEE
ATLANTA — AIDS researchers are
optimistic that they may have found a vaccine that would treat people already living
Participating in a panel discussion at an
Emory University conference on HIV vaccine research and drug development late
last month, Jean-Marie Andrieu, a virologist at the Institute of Research for Vaccines
& Immunotherapies for Cancer & AIDS in
Paris, discussed the early successes of a
therapeutic vaccine his team developed.
The French team has tested its vaccine on
mice and monkeys and has begun administering tests to humans. The effects of the vaccine in non-humans is predictive of results
when the vaccine is delivered to people, a
breakthrough that could shorten the length
of time it takes for a vaccine to reach
humans, researchers said.
"It is much faster to attain results in
animals than in humans because with
humans, you have to go through human
trials and other things that take time,"
said Genoveffa Franchini, a principal
AIDS vaccine researcher at the National
Cancer Institute who participated in the
May 20 panel.
"So with the similarities between non-
human primates and humans, different
vaccine approaches can now be tried quite
effectively," Franchini said.
Therapeutic vaccines — as opposed to
preventive vaccines that protect HTV-nega-
tive people from contracting the virus —
have been researched for almost two
decades. They offer a potential alternative to
the "lifetime of chemo" currentiy available
to HIV-positive individuals, said Terje
Anderson, executive director of the National
Association of People Living With AIDS.
"I don't know if I'd say there's a lot of
buzz around it in the HIV community, but
people are hoping this can offer something
new," Anderson said. "Obviously for people
living with HIV a preventive vaccine doesn't do anything in terms of our own health,
so both kinds of vaccines need to continue
But the therapeutic vaccines now being
tested in humans have not shared similar
success in all subjects, Franchini said.
The effects last only a limited time with
some participants before they must return
to traditional drug treatment, the
"It's important to know that [therapeutic vaccines] cannot be substituted for
antiretroviral therapy — the results are
seen for months, but need to be sustained
more," Franchini said.
Human testing of the therapeutic vaccine created by the French research team
involved people with HIV being injected
with a mixture of HIV taken from their
own blood and their own dendritic cells.
When foreign pathogens enter a person's body, dendritic cells mark those
pathogens so that the immune system can
easily recognize them and develop a
response to fight the illness. But HIV
avoids being marked by dendritic cells and
renders the immune system unable to
is the next group that is deemed so threatening that their basic rights should be
National groups offer funds
The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force
and the Human Rights Campaign
announced that they would donate up to
$100,000 each as a fund-raising challenge
to raise $1 million by Labor Day to defeat
the proposed amendment.
If AB 19 passes and becomes law, it is
possible that same-sex marriages could
begin and then be suspended again if a
constitutional amendment banning samesex marriage passes later, Cox said.
Cox said that it is also possible that the
move to amend the constitution would lose
steam after same-sex marriages happen
and people realize that they aren't having
a damaging effect on society.
Cox said that she believes given the
option same-sex couples will chose mi*r-
riage over domestic partnership, but, she
said, it is not clear what AB 19 would do to
the existing domestic partner registry
California's domestic partnership system extends a broad range of rights and
responsibilities to same-sex couples registered as domestic partners.
Earlier this year a bill known as AB 205
took effect, expanding the rights granted
to domestic partners so that they receive
nearly all of the benefits extended to married couples by the state.
Jeff Winkler has been with his partner
for nearly six years and was married for
the brief period during which same-sex
marriages were performed in California.
Winkler said that he and his partner
have created wills and medical power of
attorney documents in an attempt to compensate for the lesser legal status of their
Terje Anderson, executive director of the National
Association of People With AIDS, said a therapeutic
HIV vaccine would offer an alternative to the lifetime
of chemo' currently available to people living with HIV.
mount a resistance.
80 percent drop in viral load
The French researchers discovered
that when their mixture of "killed" HTV
and dendritic cells were injected, the
patients' viral load — or amount of HIV
present in their blood system — dropped
by an average of 80 percent.