By a strong
22-15 vote, the California senate on Friday sent a
marriage equality bill to the desk of Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger, who pledged this year that he would
veto such legislation. The bill passed the state
assembly in June with one vote to spare.
This is the
second time in just under two years that the California
legislature has passed a bill that opens the doors to legal
marriage for all couples, gay or straight.
vetoed the first effort in 2005, citing the results of a
2000 California voter referendum on marriage. At that time,
Schwarzenegger, a moderate Republican, said that the
definition of marriage in the state should be
determined by the voters or the state supreme
This time around,
the governor's spokesman, Aaron McLear, says that while
the governor has not taken a flat position, he still intends
to respect the results of the 2000 referendum, the
Associated Press reported. In that vote, roughly 60%
of the electorate voted to ban the recognition of
same-sex marriages from out of state.
In February, when
the marriage bill once again loomed on the horizon,
Schwarzenegger pledged a veto "because the people of
California have voted on that issue."
The passage of
the marriage bill in 2005 was a historic breakthrough, the
first time any state legislature had voted for marriage
doubles up on its gay rights legacy, even as the
California supreme court prepares to weigh in on the issue
in a long-running court battle stemming from San
Francisco's spate of same-sex marriages.
The high court
will be accepting written briefs on six consolidated
marriage cases through mid-October, at which point the
justices will set a date for oral arguments.
Schwarzenegger, in turn, has until October 14 to veto
the current legislation.
Given the supreme
court's active involvement in the question of marriage
rights, Schwarzenegger is even less likely to interfere with
the deliberations by signing a marriage bill into law
at this point.
activists are not throwing in the towel. In a statement
Friday, the Human Rights Campaign called on Schwarzenegger
"to think about how the history books will remember
this decision." Schwarzenegger, said HRC's Joe
Solmonese, "has an opportunity before him to be
remembered as a courageous governor who stood up for equal
treatment under the law for all families."
California's Geoff Kors urged Schwarzenegger to "rise above
right-wing ideology, as he has on many other issues, by
signing this bill." The governor, he continued,
"should keep up with the will of the people and show
the kind of bold bipartisan leadership on this issue
that will define his place in history."
Even if the bill
is vetoed, its passage sends a powerful message to the
California justices, demonstrating that a ruling in favor of
marriage equality would not be a lonely stand for
constitutional principles but a reflection of the
state's political consensus. (Ann Rostow, Gay.com)