Friday, October 12, 2007

no marriage - yet

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (I still can't say that without wincing) once again, today, vetoed legislation that would have given same-sex couples the same access to legal marriage now granted only to opposite-sex couples. Here is the text of Schwarzenegger's veto message:

"To the Members of the California State Assembly:

I am returning Assembly Bill 43 without my signature.

As I stated in vetoing similar legislation in 2005, I am proud California is a leader in recognizing and respecting domestic partnerships. I believe that all Californians are entitled to full protection under the law and should not be discriminated against based upon their sexual orientation. I support current domestic partnership rights and will continue to vigorously defend and enforce these rights.

In 2000, the voters approved Proposition 22, a challenge to which is currently pending before the California Supreme Court. I maintain my position that the appropriate resolution to this issue is to allow the Court to rule on Proposition 22. The people of California should then determine what, if any, statutory changes are needed in response to the Court’s ruling.

Sincerely, Arnold Schwarzenegger"

Although California's domestic partnership legislation is comprehensive it is not the same as marriage. It is discriminatory on its face to have one arrangement for same-sex couples and a different arrangement for opposite-sex couples (actually opposite-sex couples can choose either one). If domestic partnership is the same as marriage then why not simply call it marriage? If Domestic Partnership is different from marriage tean it cannot be "full protection under the law" So which is it?

It's clear to me that in the year 2000 when Californians passed Proposition 22 (a marriage definition statement - not a constitutional amendment) the voters meant to preserve marriage as a hetero-only institution. However, the California legislature is not bound by the will of the voters from 7 years ago. Times and opinions change and it is our elected representatives' responsibility to act for us, not to wait for new voter propositions to replace old ones. Nor is the legislature obliged to wait for a court decision before they act to end discrimination currently occuring.

Schwarzenegger is on the wrong side of an historical movement. He could have been a leader on this issue early on, and chose to do nothing. Twice now the legislature has given him the opportunity to take a bold and prophetic position. Each time he has failed to take advantage of their gift. Eventually same-sex marriage will be legal in California and in all 50 states. When that time comes and people look back at the strange old times of Domestic Partnerships, Schwarzenegger will be viewed as a reactionary figure standing in the way of justice, using his vaunted strength to hold people down insteading of lifting them up.

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