California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will veto an historic bill that would have legalized “gay marriage” in the state, his press secretary said Sept. 7.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will veto an historic bill that would
have legalized “gay marriage” in the state, his press secretary said Sept.
The state Assembly passed the bill Sept. 6 by a mostly party-line vote of
41-35, sending it to the desk of Schwarzenegger, who previously had not taken a
public position on it. Voting against the bill were 31 Republicans and four
Democrats. No Republican supported it.
Conservatives blasted the bill as unconstitutional and as defying the will of
the people. Just five years ago, voters overwhelmingly approved an initiative
(Proposition 22) protecting traditional marriage by a margin of 61-39 percent.
“The people voted and the issue is now before the courts,” Schwarzenegger
Press Secretary Margita Thompson said in a statement. “The Governor 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. We cannot have a system where the people vote and the Legislature derails
that vote. Out of respect for the will of the people, the Governor will veto AB
The bill — which would have changed the definition of marriage in state
family code to read “two persons” instead of “a man and a woman” — had passed
the state Senate Sept. 1, 21-15. In both the Assembly and Senate, it received
the minimum votes required for passage.
No legislative body in U.S. history had ever passed such a bill.
Attorneys for two conservatives groups, the Alliance Defense Fund and Liberty
Counsel, had told Baptist Press that if Schwarzenegger signed it, their
respective organizations were prepared to file suit.
Massachusetts remains the only state to recognize “gay marriage,” although it
became legal there through a court order.
A lawsuit that would legalize “same-sex marriage” is making its way through
the California courts. In March a lower court judge struck down Proposition 22,
saying it violates the state Constitution. The ruling is being appealed.
California is one of eight states involved in “gay marriage” lawsuits.
Two pro-family coalitions — VoteYesMarriage.com and ProtectMarriage.com —
are hoping to collect enough signatures to place a marriage amendment on the
ballot in 2006. An amendment would trump any court ruling and any law.
“[The legislature’s action] definitely provides the impetus to get the
California Marriage Amendment on the ballot,” Erik Stanley, chief counsel of
Liberty Counsel, told Baptist Press. “This makes it even clearer that the
legislature doesn’t care what the people say. They’re going to do what they want
Jordan Lorence, senior counsel of the Alliance Defense Fund, said the bill’s
passage could be a “catalyst for the amendment push.”
The California Constitution prohibits the legislature from reversing a
voter-approved initiative. Article II, Section 10 of the state constitution says
that the legislature “may amend or repeal an initiative statute … only when
approved by the electors.”
Assembly sponsor Mark Leno, an open homosexual, has argued that Proposition
22 only bans out-of-state “marriages” but not in-state ones. Under that
interpretation, his bill would be constitutional.
But Lorence said Leno’s argument conflicts with the political debate in 2000
over Proposition 22.
“The homosexual activists were totally opposed to Proposition 22 because they
said it would outlaw same-sex marriage,” Lorence told BP. “No one was saying, on
either side, that this is a narrow piece of legislation that has only modest
goals to prevent recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages.”
Stanley called Leno’s reasoning “ridiculous.”
“The language in Proposition 22 is very clear,” Stanley said.
Proposition 22 states that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid
or recognized in California.”
Prior to Schwarzenegger’s announcement, Joe Solmonese, president of the
homosexual activist group Human Rights Campaign, said if the governor signed the
bill he would “be remembered in history books as standing up for equal treatment
under the law for all families.” But Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for
Children and Families, said Schwarzenegger would “actually become a hero to the
majority of Californians” if he vetoed it.
The bill’s passage bucked a nationwide trend, as many states consider
constitutional amendments banning “same-sex marriage.”
Last summer a California Assembly committee passed a similar bill, becoming
the first legislative committee in the U.S. to do so. It failed to receive a
floor vote in 2004, but Leno brought it back this year. After it failed to pass
the Assembly on three separate votes earlier this summer — getting support from
37 members on the final vote — Leno refused to give up, opting instead to try
and revive the issue in the Senate. His strategy worked, and the momentum gained
from Senate passage persuaded enough Assembly Democrats to change their
A Schwarzenegger veto surely will please conservatives, although his previous
statements on the issue have been out of line with social conservative
Last summer he was in a restaurant when a homosexual man asked the Republican
governor his opinion about “gay marriage.” As reported by the Los Angeles Times,
Schwarzenegger replied: “My opinion is that I don’t care one way or the other.”
In an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” in March 2004,
Schwarzenegger said he supported Proposition 22 but would have no problem if
courts overturned it.
“No, I don’t have a problem. Let the court decide. Let the people decide,”
He also told Leno that he opposed a marriage amendment to the U.S.
Constitution. Schwarzenegger’s comments to Leno came as the city of San
Francisco issued marriage licenses to homosexual couples in defiance of state
law. The California Supreme Court subsequently invalidated the licenses.
This story originally appeared 7 Sep 2005 in Baptist Press.
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