Californians have elected a moderate Republican governor who has expressed support for same-sex couples, a position in direct contrast to his party's official platform. And now gay activists in the state say they are "cautiously optimistic" about where governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger will stand on future gay rights issues. "Although a campaign spokesperson stated that Schwarzenegger would not have signed the recently enacted domestic-partner bill, we hope that he will join the majority of Californians in supporting this important legislation that protects families," said Geoffrey Kors, executive director of the gay rights group Equality California.
Schwarzenegger certainly will be forced to weigh in on gay rights. Since Gov. Gray Davis signed the Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2003, Republican state senator Pete Knight has filed both a lawsuit and a ballot proposal seeking to repeal those rights. An exit poll during Tuesday's special election found that a majority of Californians support the new law. Schwarzenegger's official campaign Web site indicates that he supports equal rights for gay Californians: "I am for equal rights for all. I do believe that gay couples are entitled to full protection under the law and should not be discriminated against based on their relationship." But the governor-elect also has said he wouldn't have signed the DP bill.
Members of the California chapter of Log Cabin Republicans, a gay political group that endorsed Scharzenegger, were enthusiastic about his election. "I am so proud of all our Log Cabin members who volunteered, appeared in commercials, and were on the campaign staff for Arnold," said chapter president Jeff Bissiri. "Arnold delivered on his commitment to make the 'big tent' part of his campaign, and he scored a decisive victory because of that decision."
But members of the Stonewall Democrats, another national gay political group, said some of the governor-elect's actions already cause some concern. Schwarzenegger has appointed U.S. representative David Dreier, who has been called a "true blue" advocate by the antigay Family Research Council, to lead his transition team.