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Calif. governor to veto same-sex marriage bill
By John Ritter, USA TODAY
Thu Sep 8, 6:37 AM ET
No sooner had California's Legislature become the nation's first to approve a gay-marriage bill than reality sunk in: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Wednesday that he will veto it.
Schwarzenegger said the legislation approved Tuesday would conflict with Proposition 22. That ballot initiative, approved five years ago, prevents the state from recognizing same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.
"We cannot have a system where the people vote and the Legislature derails that vote," his press secretary, Margita Thompson, said in a statement. "Out of respect for the will of the people, the governor will veto" the bill.
Schwarzenegger "believes gay couples are entitled to full protection under the law and should not be discriminated against based upon their relationship," the statement said. "He is proud that California provides the most rigorous protections in the nation for domestic partners."
Saddled with the lowest approval rating of his administration and fighting an uphill battle over measures he's backing in November's special election, Schwarzenegger could ill afford to alienate his Republican base, political analysts say.
"I don't think he has any other choice," says Bruce Cain, director of the University of California's academic center in Washington, D.C. "He can't afford to divide Republican support and count on independents and Democrats to bail him out. That's just not going to happen."
Moreover, vetoing the bill could further energize GOP voters who are "already jazzed and excited," Cain says, about a November ballot measure to require minors to notify parents before getting abortions.
The Legislature's Assembly narrowly approved gay marriage Tuesday after twice defeating identical bills, most recently in June. The Senate had approved it last week.
No other state legislature has gone as far, though state-sanctioned gay marriages have been performed in Massachusetts for more than a year since a ruling from the state's highest court.
On Wednesday, the Massachusetts attorney general ruled that an initiative to ban gay marriage could move forward, though it wouldn't appear on the ballot before 2008.
Vermont legalized civil unions in 2000, and Connecticut approved them this year. It's the first state to do so without a court order. California gives same-sex couples most of the rights of marriage if they register as domestic partners.
Schwarzenegger has said the people or the courts should decide the issue. In 2000, the state's voters approved a measure, championed by gay-marriage opponents, that restricts marriage to a man and a woman. A lower court declared the law unconstitutional, but that ruling is being challenged and is expected to be decided next year by the California Supreme Court.
Foes of same-sex marriage hope to qualify a measure for next year's ballot that would amend the state Constitution to ban gay marriages.
They urged Schwarzenegger to veto the new bill. "He'll actually become a hero to the majority of Californians" for vetoing it, says Randy Thomasson, president of the Campaign for Children and Families.
Recent polls indicate that California sentiment may have shifted toward greater acceptance of gay marriage. A non-partisan Field Poll in June 2004 found 53% disapproved while 43% approved. A survey last month by the Public Policy Institute of California, a non-partisan think tank, found 48% opposed and 44% approving. Schwarzenegger's popularity also nosedived. A Field Poll released Wednesday showed only 36% said they would re-elect Schwarzenegger.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to terminate gay marriage bill
Thu Sep 8, 3:11 AM ET - AFP
Movie hero governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will terminate the historic gay marriage legislation approved by the California legislature and put on his desk for approval, his office announced in a press release.
A majority of voters in the US state of California backed a proposition five years ago defining marriage here as the union of a man and a woman, and Schwarzenegger is standing by that mandate, said spokeswoman Margita Thompson.
"Our of respect for the will of the people, the governor will veto (the bill)," Thompson said in a written release.
Schwarzenegger "believes the matter should be determined not by legislative action - which would be unconstitutional - but by court decision or another vote of the people of our state."
The bill, AB 849, made US history when it cleared the final hurdle in the state legislature late Tuesday and was sent to Schwarzenegger's desk for his signature.
"In Governor Schwarzenegger's personal life and work in public service, he has considered no undertaking to be more noble than the cause of civil rights," Thompson wrote while explaining the governor's decision.
"He believes that gay couples are entitled to full protection under the law and should not be discriminated against based upon their relationship."
The bill would have legalized same-sex marriage. It was heralded as a "milestone" by its author, Democratic Assemblyman Mark Leno, and gay rights advocates.
When the bill cleared the state senate floor, it marked the first time a full body of elected legislators endorsed a change in law to put gay marriages on par with heterosexual unions, Leno said.
Leno was on the floor of the state assembly and couldn't be reached for comment when the veto decision was announced.
California gay marriage faces veto
By Dean E. Murphy The New York Times
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2005
SAN FRANCISCO Less than 24 hours after California lawmakers narrowly passed the first same-sex marriage bill in the United States, a spokeswoman for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said that he would veto it "out of respect for the will of the people."
The announcement Wednesday brought an abrupt end to speculation throughout the day that Schwarzenegger, a Republican, might be persuaded to back the measure despite strong opposition to it within his own party.
The author of the bill, Assemblyman Mark Leno, a Democrat from San Francisco, said Democrats had been "using every resource available to us," including reaching out to Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, a relative of the governor, to win Schwarzenegger's approval. But even before the effort got in full swing, it was cut short.
Leno said that if Schwarzenegger in fact vetoed the bill without first hearing from him and other supporters, "It would be highly unusual and a direct insult to the proponents of this bill and the many millions of Californian families who want him to sign it."
The bill, which defines marriage as between "two persons," won final legislative approval Tuesday night in the State Assembly by only a narrow margin, 41-35, after a coalition of gay, Latino and black groups successfully fended off conservative opposition to it by framing the issue as one of civil rights, not religious values. It passed by a single vote in the State Senate last week, meaning that there are not enough votes in either house to override a veto.
In a written statement, Schwarzenegger's spokeswoman, Margita Thompson, made a nod to the civil rights arguments, but said the governor believed the bill was unconstitutional because of a ballot measure passed in 2000 that defined marriage as between a man and a woman.
Republican lawmakers voiced relief with the veto announcement after expressing anger over the vote Tuesday night, and anxiety throughout Wednesday over Schwarzenegger's silence on the subject. Members of the Republican caucus in the Assembly had written to Schwarzenegger urging a veto.
Attorney General Thomas Reilly of Massachusetts gave the go-ahead to a proposed 2008 referendum on banning gay marriage, clearing the way for backers of the initiative to collect signatures this autumn to place it before the State Legislature and eventually the voters, The Boston Globe reported Thursday from Boston.
Reilly, a Democrat who is seeking his party's nomination for governor next year, said Wednesday that he personally opposed the proposed ban on gay marriage but that his reading of the state constitution and state law "has led me to the decisions that I've made" to formally certify the ballot initiative.