Governor Schwarzenegger's Gay Marriage Veto
By: The Political Heretic
Through his press secretary, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his intention to veto a new bill legalizing gay marriages because the issue, he claims, should be decided by the voting public and the courts. The statement is itself rather interesting, because Republicans generally say these matters should be left with the people or at worst, those they choose to represent them. It would be nice to hear why Mr. Schwarzenegger would leave this issue with either the most representative of bodies that could debate this issue (the people) or the least representative (the Supreme Court, where justices are initially appointed by the governor and then have to seek re-election) . But that is another question best saved for another day.
Assemblyman Jackie Goldberg
and bill-author Mark Leno said the governor is appealing to the right-wing members of his party. If he is trying to cater to the right-wing of the Republican Party he is not doing a good job. Governor Schwarzenegger used his press statement to affirm gay relationships and included their push for equal respect within the history of the civil rights movement. His statement would not have cited with pride, California's domestic partnership legislation that members of the religious right hope to write out of their state laws or suggest that gay couples are entitled "to full protection under the law" if he was appealing to the religious right. Nowhere in his statement does he resort to their code words - "family values," morality, or any other reference that intentionally or not denigrates gay people's lives.
Mr. Schwarzenegger is appealing to the center. The governor's aides know most people oppose gay marriage and overwhelmingly voted for Proposition 22, and that it would likely vote to for another gay marriage ban again. But at the same time he knows the people in California, unlike those in say, Alabama or Mississippi, wouldn't go for the gay-bashing and the far right, knowing this, are downplaying any harm their proposed constitutional amendment would have on gay Californians. If they succeed, the public may fall for it and vote accordingly without knowing how it would affect gay couples' hospital visitation , inheritance, and property rights. Mr. Leno and Goldberg desperately need a reality check and they do their gay constituents no favor in appealing to their desires without giving them the tough-to-handle political facts. They will not win needed support from generally sympathetic politicians and citizens if they call everyone who opposes gay marriage a bigot, right-wing extremist, or theocrat. Some really do believe gays have no place in society and will do their best to censor their works from libraries, pressure city governments to deny them parade permits, and push the cops to crack down on every public display of same-sex affection. And yes, there are those who believe gays are entitled to everything, including gay marriage (with the "word.")
But most fall somewhere in the middle, trying to make some kinds of distinctions to placate their mixed, perhaps conflicting and uncomfortable feelings about the issue. They may support laws protecting gays from job and public accommodation discrimination but draw the line at open displays of gay affection or any state acknowledgment of their relationships. Some draw the line after sodomy laws and still others may go further and support gay marriage without the name.
The governor's expected veto may deliver the gay couples in that state from a worse fate.