TV & Radio
Schwarzenegger Vetoes Bill Allowing Same-Sex Marriage
California Voters' 2000 Decision Cited
By John Pomfret
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 30, 2005; A03
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 29 -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday vetoed landmark legislation that would have made California the second state to allow same-sex couples to marry.
The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, which squeaked through the legislature along strict party lines, would have recast the state's legal definition of marriage as a union between two people rather than between a man and a woman.
The Sept. 7 vote marked the first time that a state legislature approved a bill authorizing same-sex marriage without a court order. The Massachusetts legislature passed regulations permitting same-sex marriage, but only after the state's highest court ruled that it must.
"Clearly, the governor has failed the test of leadership and missed an historic opportunity to stand up for basic civil rights of all Californians," the bill's author, Assemblyman Mark Leno (D), said. "We will overcome this veto. Liberty and justice will prevail in spite of his lack of leadership."
In the run-up to the veto, which Schwarzenegger had signaled weeks ago, gay activists had run a series of television ads urging the action-hero-turned-politician to "be a hero" and sign the measure into law. Gay and lesbian activists said they plan to hold a series of protests in major cities across California on Friday.
In a statement, the Republican governor said that Californians had already voted on the subject in 2000 when they passed Proposition 22, also known as the Defense of Marriage Act, which held that marriage is between a man and a woman.
The constitutionality of that act has been challenged in court and will likely be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, Schwarzenegger added. "This bill simply adds confusion to a constitutional issue," he said.
Schwarzenegger noted that California is a leader in "recognizing and respecting domestic partnerships and the equal rights of domestic partners." Indeed, more than 30,000 same-sex couples are registered in a state program. Schwarzenegger vowed to "vigorously defend and enforce these rights and as such will not support any rollback." This is significant because several groups are planning voter initiatives next year that would cut benefits to same-sex couples.
Schwarzenegger's popularity has sagged to its lowest point since he rolled to power on the back of a recall vote in 2003.
Californians are evenly split over the question of same-sex marriage. A Field Poll earlier this month showed 46 percent opposing and 46 percent approving such unions.
San Francisco Chronicle
Beyond the veto
Monday, October 3, 2005
ON THE SUBJECT of equal rights for gays and lesbians, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger decided not to lead.
Instead, he will wait.
Schwarzenegger's veto of legislation to allow same-sex couples the full rights and responsibilities of marriage means that the focus will return to the court battles at the state and federal level. The governor tried to take the edge off his decision to uphold the discriminatory status quo by proclaiming that he would oppose "any rollback" of the state's domestic-partners laws.
One of Schwarzenegger's stated reasons for his veto was the voter approval of Proposition 22, which banned same-sex marriage, in 2000.
It must be noted that there is serious dispute about the constitutionality of Prop. 22. The latest ruling in the case, which may eventually end up in the state Supreme Court, went against the initiative. Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer cited the 1948 Supreme Court decision that struck down the state's ban on interracial marriage as a clear precedent that Californians have a "basic human right to marry a person of one's choice." As Kramer put it, a discriminatory law cannot be justified "simply because such constitutional violation has become traditional."
Moreover, the equal-protection provisions of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution could trump all state-level arguments. None other than conservative Justice Antonin Scalia highlighted the legal arguments in his 2003 dissent of a high-court ruling that struck down a Texas sodomy law. In his dissent, he suggested the logic of the ruling against sodomy laws could be applied to restrictions on same-sex marriage. "What justification could there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples exercising 'the liberty protected by the Constitution'?'' Scalia asked.
California voters can rewrite the state constitution only through a state constitutional amendment -- which Proposition 22 was not. And no state's voters can carve out an exception to the U.S. Constitution.
The groups that want to preserve second-class citizenship for gays and lesbians like to howl about "unelected judges" at every ruling that goes against them. Let the record show that, in 2005, a majority of the duly elected members of the California Senate and Assembly voted for AB849 to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.
Let the record show it was the governor's decision to let the courts resolve this matter of civil rights.
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