Press Release by Congresswoman Pelosi

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

In Opposition to the Knight Initiative

August 9, 1999

As someone proud to represent a city that celebrates the value of diversity, I urge my fellow Californians to oppose the dangerous and divisive Knight Initiative on the State's March 2000 ballot.

The Knight Initiative would add the provision to state law that only marriages between a man and woman are valid in California. The initiative is clearly unnecessary, as same gender civil marriage is not legal in this or any other state.

The goal of the Knight Initiative is not really to change law, but to demonize one group. This measure attempts to use the initiative process not to make policy, but to polarize the electorate, and send a message of intolerance across the state and the nation.

I believe that people in committed relationships - whether heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual - should have basic rights such as bereavement leave, hospital visitation, and other benefits conferred on married couples.

Whether or not you agree, I urge you to oppose the Knight Initiative. The Initiative leaves specific issues of partner benefits aside, and seeks to permanently outlaw a right to marriage that does not now exist. Passage of the Knight Initiative would not accomplish any meaningful change in state law other than to codify a permanent statement of discrimination against one group of Californians. In fact, in the states where initiatives like the Knight Initiative have passed, those laws are now being used to undermine rights recently won by gays and lesbians, including hospital visitation rights.

California has always epitomized the spirit of opportunity and innovation. At a time when our state and country are becoming increasingly diverse, California should lead in the effort to build a society in which all people are respected, not march backwards by attempting to insulate ourselves from change and those perceived as different.

It is in the best of that Californian spirit that I urge voters to reject this unnecessary and prejudiced attack on our lesbian and gay friends, neighbors and co-workers and vote against the Knight Initiative.

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