- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said yesterday he would veto a bill to legalizing same-sex “marriages” in California, a move that conservatives had expected.

Mr. Schwarzenegger “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,” Margita Thompson, the governor’s press secretary, said yesterday in announcing the veto.

In March 2000, 61 percent of the state’s voters approved Proposition 22, declaring that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” On Tuesday, the California Assembly approved AB 849, which would remove “man” and “woman” from state marriage laws and instead permit “two persons” to marry.

“Five years ago, the matter of same-sex marriage was placed before the people of California,” Mrs. Thompson said yesterday. “The people voted, and the issue is now before the courts. 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 849.”

The veto announcement was not a surprise to California conservatives.

“He’s made statements, even during the [2003] recall election, indicating that he thinks that the people need to decide on this issue or it needs to go to the courts,” said Karen Hanretty, spokeswoman for the California Republican Party.

In April, a state appeals court ruled that California lawmakers can’t overturn Proposition 22. “Without submitting the matter to the voters, the Legislature cannot change this absolute refusal to recognize marriages between persons of the same sex,” the 3rd District Court of Appeal said.

In announcing the veto, Mr. Schwarzenegger’s press secretary emphasized that the action did not reflect any bias.

The governor “believes that gay couples are entitled to full protection under the law and should not be discriminated against based upon their relationship,” Mrs. Thompson said. “He is proud that California provides the most rigorous protections in the nation for domestic partners.”

Meanwhile, in Massachusetts yesterday, state Attorney General Tom Reilly certified a constitutional marriage amendment offered by VoteOnMarriage.org. Organizers have until Nov. 23 to collect 120,000 signatures. The measure must be approved twice by lawmakers to get to the 2008 ballot.

The amendment is dividing conservatives because it would forbid new same-sex “marriages” but leave intact thousands of existing unions. Pragmatic conservatives say this is the best they can do legally. Other conservatives say it is foolish to “grandfather in” some homosexual “marriages” while denying such unions to other couples.

A spokeswoman for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders yesterday called Mr. Reilly’s certification “a painful setback” and promised to challenge it in court.

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