SACRAMENTO — At California's historic hearing on Proposition 8 earlier this month, Supreme Court Justice Ming Chin briefly imagined a scenario that might solve the legal conflict over a gay marriage ban.
What if the government were to get out of the "marriage business," Ming asked, and issue civil-union licenses to both straight and gay couples?
The justices agreed such a change would have to be handled by the Legislature, and discussion closed.
But outside the court, the question still hung in the air.
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On March 10, five days after the court hearing, two California college students got the OK from state election officials to try to put Ming's question before voters.
The students are circulating petitions for a ballot initiative that would strike the word "marriage" from state laws and substitute "domestic partnership."
The change would keep all the rights of marriage now on the books. But it would nullify Proposition 8 and make the new partnership category applicable to both gay and straight.
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