Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Sincerity of Arnold

Back in early September, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had the same chance as the legislature. They took it and legalized same-sex marriage. Massachusetts West.

Arnie, however, all but said through his spokesmodel that he would veto it. He wanted to hide behind the court process rather than make law, make history, make right.

Many of us signed petitions online or on paper. Many of us, including MassMarrier, wrote him as well.

Now, over two months in the making, ta da, we received our form letter. It follows and needs no additional comment:
Subject: Re:Same Gender Marriages
From: governor@govmail.ca.gov

Thank you for emailing to express your position regarding Assembly Bill 849 (Leno). I understand the importance of this piece of legislation and the outcome it would have on our State and nation as a whole. After extensive consideration and thorough deliberation from proponents and opponents of this issue, I have decided to veto this bill.

I am proud California is a leader in recognizing and respecting domestic partnerships and the equal rights of domestic partners. I believe that lesbian and gay couples are entitled to full protection under the law and should not be discriminated against based upon their relationships. I support current domestic partnership rights and will continue to vigorously defend and enforce these rights and as such will not support a rollback of these rights.

California Family Code Section 308.5 was enacted by an initiative statute passed by the voters as Proposition 22 in 2000. Article II, section 10 of the California Constitution prohibits the Legislature from amending this initiative statute without a vote of the people. This bill does not provide for such a vote and I do not believe the Legislature can reverse an initiative approved by the people of California.

The ultimate issue regarding the constitutionality of section 308.5 and its prohibition of same-sex marriage is currently before the Court of Appeals in San Francisco and will likely be decided by the Supreme Court. If the ban of same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, this bill is not necessary. If the ban is constitutional, this bill is ineffective.

While I was not able to sign this bill in particular, I did sign legislation to extend the rights of domestic partners. Last legislative session I signed SB 1234 (Kuehl), the most comprehensive extension of domestic partner rights. This session I signed AB 1400 (Laird), which clarifies that marital status and sexual orientation are among the characteristics that are protected against discrimination by business establishments under the Unruh Civil Rights Act. I also signed AB 1586 (Koretz) which adds additional language to already existing anti-discrimination provision to clarify that State law prohibits insurance companies and health care service plans from discriminating on the basis of gender in the creation or maintenance of service contracts or the provision of benefits or coverage.

Thank you again for taking the time to voice your opinion. Taking the time to communicate your opinions and concern shows that California's people are engaged in issues that affect the well being and future of our State.

Sincerely,

Arnold Schwarzenegger

2 comments:

Boo said...

But he was right. The California legislature doesn't have the authority to override a referendum. So he really didn't have the chance to make law. At most he could have been another Gavin Newsome and made a symbolic statement that would have quickly been overturned by the court. The court has to find the referendum unconstitutional or there has to be another referendum.

Mass Marrier said...

Actually the legislature does have the authority in this case. Proposition 22, the Knight Initiative, altered family code. In effect, the voters made law five years ago.

The vast majority of laws are made the way the legislature did in this case, by passing bills, which the governor signs. They can and did do their part. They can make law that supersedes existing law. They do it weekly if not daily.

Arnie did claim that the bill legalizing same-sex marriage violated the will of the people. The majority of the legislators point out that much has changed in five years. They, and constitutional lawyers, also note that California still has a representative democracy, not a town meeting form of government.

You may know that we here think the ballot initiative process is much abused and overdone. It leads to just such conflicts. Letting the najority vote on the rights of the minority has an unfortunate history.

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