The Law of Unintended Consequences may be expressed in many ways, the pithiest among them being “Be careful of what you wish for … you just might get it.”
My gay and lesbian brethren in California have just received an unintended (but aren’t they always?) lesson in the application of the aforementioned Law.
Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1306, which was sponsored
by San Francisco State Senator Mark Leno, on July 7, 2014. The bill removes references to “husband” or “wife” from California’s Family Law statues, replacing the words with the gender-neutral terms “spouse” or “married persons,” effective January 1, 2015.
State Senator Leno said that the bill would “remove biased and outdated language” from California’s statutes. Senator Leno is correct from a semantic perspective.
However, those gay men who attach great import to being able to being able to refer to their partner as “my husband,” and those gay women who attach similar import to being able to refer to their partner as “my wife,” won’t be able to find any legal backing for that in the California Family Law statute after the end of this year — there will only be the bland term “spouse.”
The same will be the case, of course, for heterosexual couples — they won’t be able to find the term “husband” or “wife” in the California Family Law statutes, either. However, heterosexual couples won’t see this as “removal of biased and outdated language” — they’ll see this as yet another repudiation of the will of the people in the wake of Proposition 8.
So, as was mentioned earlier … “Be careful of what you wish for. You just might get it.”