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The Baltimore Sun
Gay marriage advances
Originally published September 8, 2005
WITH HIGH drama befitting the historic occasion, the California House reversed itself Tuesday night and joined the state Senate to become the first legislature in the nation to grant its gay citizens the right to marry.
As an immediate consequence, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had been hoping the courts would resolve the contentious issue, has now been forced into taking a stand - and might well veto the measure.
But the broader significance of the California Assembly's decision is the milestone it serves along the sometimes halting but apparently inevitable path toward ensuring same-sex couples the legal rights, benefits and responsibilities of marriage.
Coupled with recent decisions by the state's highest court affirming the rights and responsibilities of gay parents, California's legal and political structure seems to be finally reflecting the heady days last year when San Francisco briefly became a mecca for gay couples eager to formalize their union.
Massachusetts went first, of course, affirming the right of gays to marry through a decision by that state's highest court. A similar result could occur in California when the state Supreme Court takes up a challenge to a ballot initiative passed five years ago that declared marriage can only involve one man and one woman.
There's something particularly heartening, though, about watching elected members of a legislative body stand up to the intolerance that often pervades debate on this topic, which is at its core about equal treatment before the law.
Mr. Schwarzenegger would earn himself lasting credit - and doubtless some long-term political capital - by becoming the first governor to formally enshrine these rights in law. But if he proves unequal to the challenge, no matter.
This civil rights struggle, which is progressing inch by inch throughout the nation and the world, will march on - with or without him.
Friday, September 9, 2005
Same-sex Marriage: Veto the future
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER EDITORIAL BOARD
California is close to legalizing same-sex marriage, with lawmakers there this week passing a bill to make it so. But Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he would veto the bill, because ... . Oh yes, he'll veto the bill because he cares so much about the feelings of voters who, five years ago, approved an initiative preventing California from recognizing same-sex marriages.
So, Der Governator has respect for the process and the will of the people, eh? How the heck did he think this bill came to be in the first place? Lawmakers -- elected ones -- passed it. But we suppose some processes are less convenient to respect than others, making this is a distasteful, transparent case of political pandering. California already gives gay couples registered as domestic partners many of the rights it affords (straight) married couples, and this ridiculous veto only makes a significant portion of his constituency feel disrespected and sold out.
The notion of marriage as a sacred thing and the privilege of straight couples is outdated and laughable. How could two men getting married harm the institution more than Britney Spears, whose first marriage was a skanky 55-hour Las Vegas affair?
Marriage can't be defined like that. Its inviolability -- like any other bond -- is something that can be upheld and understood only in the hearts and minds of the two people who enter into it.
You can't enforce that type of thing (as Britney so poetically proved), and you sure as heck can't veto it. So give it up, Gov. Schwarzenegger -- you're fighting a losing battle.
Arnie to veto gay marriage bill
IN SACRAMENTO - The Scotsman 2005/09/09
ARNOLD Schwarzenegger, the governor of California, is to veto a bill to legalise same-sex marriage "out of respect for the will of the people", he declared yesterday.
Five years ago, voters approved an initiative known as Proposition 22 that prevents California from recognising gay marriages performed in other states or countries.
"We cannot have a system where the people vote and the legislature derails that vote," Mr Schwarzenegger's press secretary, Margita Thompson, said in a statement. "Out of respect for the will of the people, the governor will veto [the bill]."
The announcement was condemned by gay rights activists and opposition Democrats but welcomed by conservative groups.
By narrowly passing the bill on Tuesday, California's state legislators would have been the first elected officials in the United States to legalise gay marriage - such partnerships are recognised in Massachusetts but only after a court ruling.
Proposition 22 stated that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognised in California". The bill to be vetoed by the governor would have defined marriage as a civil contract between "two persons".
Mr Schwarzenegger was accused of betraying the bipartisan ideals that helped get him elected in 2003.
"Clearly he's pandering to an extreme right wing, which was not how he got elected," Geoff Kors, of Equality California, one of the bill's sponsors, said. "He got elected with record numbers of lesbian and gay voters who had not previously voted for a Republican, and he sold us out."
Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, said Mr Schwarzenegger had missed "a golden opportunity to stand on history and do something that was noble and appropriate". He went on: "It disappoints me greatly, and it will disappoint literally hundreds and hundreds of thousands of San Franciscans, not to mention millions of people across the country."
Mr Newsom, a Democrat, sanctioned same-sex marriages in the city in 2004, but the state Supreme Court later declared the unions void.
Kate Kendell, of the National Centre for Lesbian Rights, said she was not surprised by Mr Schwarzenegger's veto.
"Any girlie man could have vetoed this legislation," she said, repeating the derogatory term Mr Schwarzenegger has used to mock Democratic legislators. "A real man demonstrating real leadership as governor of the most populous state in the nation would have chosen a different course of action."
But Karen England, of the Capitol Resource Institute, a group that lobbied against the bill, said: "I'm encouraged that the governor is going to stop the runaway legislature, and he's going to represent the people."
In her statement, the governor's press spokeswoman said he "believes gay couples are entitled to full protection under the law and should not be discriminated against based upon their relationship".
In Massachusetts, gay marriages are recognised, but that could change. A proposed 2008 ballot initiative to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage passed a key hurdle on Wednesday when the state's attorney general ruled it could be permitted if supporters gathered enough signatures.
A separate proposal to ban gay marriage but create civil unions faces a vote in the state legislature next week. If approved, it would go on to the state ballot in 2006.
The New York Times
Where's the Governator Now?
Published: September 9, 2005
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was a profile in timidity this week when he vowed to veto a pioneering bill authorizing gay marriage in California. The bill, which both houses of the Legislature passed by narrow margins, would expand the definition of marriage to include a civil contract between two people, not exclusively a man and woman. This was an enlightened and fair-minded stand that made California's Legislature the first in the nation to approve same-sex marriages.
Too bad Mr. Schwarzenegger could not find the courage to sign the bill into law. Instead, even before receiving the bill, he announced a tortured rationale for vetoing it. For years, social conservatives have accused judges of deciding social issues that should be left to legislators. Now Mr. Schwarzenegger wants to ignore his Legislature and leave gay marriage to the courts or the voters at large to decide.
He relies on a fig leaf: five years ago, Californians voted overwhelmingly for a ballot measure that recognized only heterosexual marriages as valid. A statement by the governor's press office declared, "We cannot have a system where the people vote and the Legislature derails that vote."
That ignores the fact that five years is an eternity in the fast-moving arena of gay rights. Even though 61 percent of the voters approved the ballot measure, recent polls show that the electorate is now evenly split, with Democrats and independents favoring same-sex marriage and Republicans strongly opposed. The Legislature is hardly a renegade body if it roughly mirrors popular opinion.
Mr. Schwarzenegger also seems to have forgotten that this nation was founded as a republic, in which the citizens elect legislators to govern on their behalf. Such representative democracy is especially important when it comes to protecting the fundamental rights of minorities, who may face bigoted hostility from some segments of the electorate.
It's easy to guess why Mr. Schwarzenegger was in such a hurry to announce his veto. Although he was initially hailed as a centrist Republican superhero who could appeal to a broad range of voters, his popularity has plummeted, and polls show that most Californians are inclined to oppose his re-election. Only his Republican base continues to back him.
Mr. Schwarzenegger's own views of gay marriage are hidden beneath vague, elusive, sometimes contradictory comments that add up to ducking the issue. The former Mr. Universe who has derided political opponents as "girlie men" is afraid to say what he really thinks. He falls back on a rationale that would leave the issue to the courts or another vote of the people. Anything to get him off the hook.