September 7, 2005


Calif. legislature 1st to OK gay marriage (Joe Dignan and John Pomfret, September 7, 2005, Washington Post)

The California Assembly voted yesterday to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry, making the state's legislature the first in the nation to deliberately approve same-sex marriages and handing a political hot potato to an already beleaguered Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. [...]

Yesterday's 41-to-35 vote amounted to more difficult news for Schwarzenegger, who roared into Sacramento on the back of a recall election in 2003 promising change. Schwarzenegger, who has taken on teachers, nurses, and other state workers, has seen his popularity lag in recent months. A Field Poll of registered voters this month put the governor's approval rating at 36 percent, an all-time low.

If he vetoes the bill, Schwarzenegger will retain the support of his GOP base, which he will need in a special election he has called for November. But he could also alienate many Democrats who voted for him and whose backing he still covets. In the special election, Schwarzenegger is asking voters to grant him more budget-cutting power, to block gerrymandering by placing legislative redistricting in the hands of retired judges, and to make public school teachers work five years instead of two before they get tenure.

''This puts Schwarzenegger on the hot seat," said Bruce Cain, professor of political science at University of California at Berkeley. ''I think it's a slam-dunk that he's going to have to veto the bill and hope that the anger in the gay community doesn't spill over into other groups."

If he signs it he can't be re-elected--simple as that. Even if he could win the nomination he'd have a challenger from the Right who would also take many of the Latino votes he got last time.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 7, 2005 6:00 AM

No problem -- all he has to do is say this is an issue the voters of California should decide, veto the legislature's bill and put a gay marriage amendment on the 2006 state ballot, when he's running for re-election. He could even allow the wording of the amendment to be pro-gay marriage, and then simply let the people vote it up or down, at the same time they're choosing their governor and state representatives.

Posted by: John at September 7, 2005 9:35 AM

According to NPR this morning, he said that this is something that should be settled by the courts, not by legislation.

Posted by: David Cohen at September 7, 2005 10:56 AM

Actually, the voters of California already decided it. They adopted a definition of marriage in a refferendum a couple of years ago. Somehow, and I don't know how, the legislature repealed that law.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 7, 2005 11:59 AM

Robert: Actually, I think the legislature is simply ignoring the law. And trusting that the courts will ignore it as well.

Posted by: b at September 7, 2005 12:59 PM

There's his out, then – he can simply state "the voters have already spoken and I won't be party to this violation of voter intent" as he vetos it.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at September 7, 2005 1:02 PM

"I think the legislature is simply ignoring the law. And trusting that the courts will ignore it as well."

How do they get away with that? Don't we have some California lawyers around here? Lou? Fred?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 7, 2005 2:49 PM

Robert: That's what happens in one party states. Remember the NJ Senate election a few years ago?

Posted by: b at September 7, 2005 3:49 PM

I still want a technical legal explanation.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 7, 2005 9:53 PM

Mr. Schwartz;

There is no technical legal explanation because it's not being done via legal means. If the courts are willing to disregard the referendum via declaring it null and void because it's "contrary to the fundmentals of the state constitution" or some such, there is de facto and de jure no recourse. Just like there's no recourse to the blatantly un-Constitutional campaign finance "reform" law. Because of the way voting districts are set up in California, even voting those legislators out of office is unlikely at best. The ultimate explanation is that there's nothing that can be done, except very indirectly (such as pushing for redistricting reform, or electing a governor who will obey the referendums even if the legislature and courts won't).

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at September 7, 2005 10:01 PM

This just in:

Schwarzenegger Vows Gay Marriage Bill Veto
Sep 07 10:04 PM US/Eastern

Associated Press Writer


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Wednesday he will veto a bill that would have made California the first state to legalize same-sex marriage through its elected lawmakers.

Schwarzenegger said the legislation, given final approval Tuesday by lawmakers, would conflict with the intent of voters when they approved an initiative five years ago. Proposition 22 was placed on the ballot to prevent California from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states or countries.

Gay rights advocates accused Schwarzenegger of betraying the bipartisan ideals that helped get him elected in the 2003 recall.

"Clearly he's pandering to an extreme right wing, which was not how he got elected," said Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California, one of the bill's sponsors. "He got elected with record numbers of lesbian and gay voters who had not previously voted for a Republican, and he sold us out."

A state appeals court is considering appeals of a lower court ruling earlier this year that overturned Proposition 22 and a 1978 law that first formally defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Meanwhile, opponents of same-sex marriages are planning measures on the ballot next year that would place a ban on gay marriages in the state Constitution.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 7, 2005 11:18 PM

Assume for the moment that the Court had not declared the existing law "unconstitutional," would the legislature have had the power to amend the propositions language.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 7, 2005 11:22 PM

I like the "pandering to an extremest right wing" over something that got over 61% of the vote. So if these people get half the non-extremists, they're right at 20%. Now I see what OJ's been talking about.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at September 8, 2005 3:42 PM