California Removes ‘Husband,’ ‘Wife’ from Marriage Law


by Kim Trobee




SACRAMENTO – Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Monday that removes the words “husband” and “wife” from California marriage law.

Bill sponsor Sen. Mark Leno called the terms “outdated and biased” and suggested they be replaced with more neutral terms such as “spouse” or “married persons.”

Same-sex couples in California have been able to marry for more than a year now, but until this week, the state’s law restricting marriage was still on the books.

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Tuesday repealing the state’s law defining marriage as a civil contract between a man and a woman. 

The law was passed by voters in November 2008, before the California Supreme Court found that it violated the state’s Constitution in May of that year.

In November 2000, marriage between same-sex couples was outlawed again when voters passed Proposition 8, adding language defining marriage as between a man and a woman to the state Constitution. It’s been estimated that 18,000 same-sex couples married in that window.

Prop. 8 is still technically part of California’s Constitution, despite being ruled unconstitutional by a federal court in 2010. The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed an appeal in June 2013, and two days later, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco lifted its injunction blocking the ruling that it was unconstitutional.

 “Words are, without doubt, one of the key tools used to shape thought,” writes Sarah Jean Seman on “This alteration in the state law is the next step to easing gay unions into cultural acceptance.”

Jeff Johnston, sexuality analyst for Focus on the Family, said the push to redefine marriage is in full swing.

“People ask, ‘How does redefining marriage affect me?’ Well, this is one way,” he said. “The very words we use are changed and called ‘biased and outdated.’ Our language for marriage — husband and wife — is being excised and neutered. Words are important, they have meaning. Children growing up in this ‘brave new world’ will be taught that marriage is about ‘equality,’ rather than the truth that marriage unites a husband and wife with each other and any children that come from their union.”