Sweet Success: After Years of Championing Equal Rights for Same-Sex Couples in California, Carole Migden Watches Her Dreams Become Legislative Reality. (Behind the Headlines)

Article excerpt

As dozens of gay activists looked on at an October 14 signing ceremony in Sacramento, California governor Gray Davis signed AB 25, a law granting an array of legal rights and responsibilities to same-sex couples second only to Vermont's civil union bill. "This bill is about responsibility, respect, and most of all, about family--and it's about time, "Davis said.

The bill, effective January 1, gives members of registered same-sex and opposite-sex couples the right to adopt a partner's child, sue for death, and administer a partner's estate, among other benefits.

In the middle of the celebration was Carole Migden, the openly lesbian assemblywoman who authored the bill and spent much of the past four years lobbying for parts of it. The Advocate spoke to the San Francisco Democrat the day after the historic signing.

You've worked on aspects of this legislation since you were elected in 1996. Victory must be sweet.

This isn't about me. I'm grateful that the governor stayed vigilant and never backed down from his support. I hope your readers will write him thank-you notes. We have a substantial final product that we can be very proud of. It has been a central focus during my tenure to expand the rights and benefits incrementally.

What are the lessons of your strategy?.

There is no substitute for hard work and the merits of the cause. Over the years there have been many things locally and nationally that have built the gay and lesbian community's self-esteem while improving the public's understanding of our issues. We just have to be patient and keep working hard.

Same-sex marriage has become a political hot button. How did you avoid it?

This bill addresses health care rights, employment benefits, and estate planning. These are three areas where Americans show a broad base of support for gay equality. Six out of 10 people will tell you these areas are fine with them. …