Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Marriage, or Mirage, in California

Exactly enough votes (41 to 35) passed the same-sex marriage bill in the California Assembly last night. Both houses have approved AB 849.

Today, it goes to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for approval or veto.

He had been hoping it would never come to this. His long-standing position is that the courts should decide such matters. Because neither house has votes to override a veto, he's out of luck. Whichever way he goes, he's hero to millions and villain to millions of others. There will be cries of "We won't forget!" (and likely lawsuits already prepared that will be filed.

The Assembly did not vote until about 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time. Arnie's flacks have had no comment yet. All Republicans voted against and all but four Democrats in favor. The swing votes came from previously abstaining Democrats Negrete McLeod, Simon Salinas and Tom Umberg.

According to the Sacramento Bee (free registration required) article, one Democratic Assemblywoman, Judy Chu, summed up her support:
"Marriage laws are not made in some divine untouchable place beyond the reach of mortals," said Chu, who said California lawmakers in 1880 voted to prohibit marriage between Chinese and whites in "an hysterical backlash" against Chinese laborers. "I do not want that same kind of marriage hysteria to be levelled against other human beings in the state of California."
Umberg had similar weighty views. In the LA Times coverage:"This is one of those times when history looks upon us to see where we are," Umberg said.
"Ten years from now, there are a handful of issues that history will record where we stood, and this is one of those issues.

"History will record whether we pushed a bit, took the lead to encourage tolerance, to encourage equality to encourage fairness," he said.

"The constituency I'm concerned about is a very small one," said Umberg, "and that's the constituency of my three children, should they decide to look back on my record Â… and reflect on where I was when we could make a difference."
Republican opponents differed. They screamed "Will of the people," referring to the five-year-old Proposition 22 that added one-man/one-woman wording to the state Family code. In the San Francisco Chronicle article, one slurred the lawmakers' legislative credentials.
"I say you are betraying the people of California," said Assemblyman Jay La Suer, R-La Mesa (San Diego County). "You are not leading. You have gone astray."
Now both sides project their views to Arnie. The Chronicle cites:

"Schwarzenegger can't afford to sign the 'gay marriage license' bill," said Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families, which helped lead the statewide battle against AB849. "He'll actually become a hero to the majority of Californians when he vetoes it. The Terminator should announce without delay that this bill is dead meat."

But Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California, said the governor would be deciding his legacy when he decides whether to sign or veto the bill.

"He will determine whether he will be the first governor to do a little heavy lifting and support equality for all or whether he will become the first governor to terminate our rights," he said. "We know in his heart he wants to do the right thing."

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