Dear Gov. Schwarzenegger,
I’m sure you believe that by vetoing the same-sex marriage bill, you’re doing what’s in the best interests of Californians and, perhaps, Americans. You state that it is not your job to override the “will of the people” by overturning Proposition 22 in favor of this measure, granting the right to wed to every loving couple in the state.
May I submit that it is sometimes to job, if not the duty, of our elected officials to do what is best for the people even when the people themselves oppose it? Our nation might never have fought for independence had not some of our founding fathers defied public convention and stated that the tyranny under which we then lived was not longer tolerable. To you, this may be an overstatement, to compare the nation’s fight for freedom with the right for anyone, regardless of whom they love, to marry that one other person they wish to share their life with. And that may be true.
However, as a man who does not currently enjoy the freedom to marry the person I love — and, yes, I’ve heard the arguments about the fact that I can, in fact, enjoy a married life if only I were in love with someone of the opposite sex — regardless of that illogical argument, I am amazed and rather surprised that you have elected to turn back the clock rather than lead the march forward.
The time is now, Governor, to be a leader. What is that you believe in your heart? What is it that you would tell your gay friends and acquaintances back in Hollywood, or in Washington, or anywhere you go? How will you tell them that you don’t believe that they can love each other, or that they should, or that their love deserves any legal bearing whatever? This is not a question of doing the people’s will, this is a question of doing what is right and what’s in the name of freedom.
Further, I would suggest that the Proposition approved 5 years ago might not have such overwhelming approval now. Don’t fall back on safe words or fall prey to the distortions that some groups would pile on top of this issue. This simple issue, the struggle for equality among all people, for the same rights and not “special” rights, for recognition of our lives and not a “lifestyle,” needs strong leaders to support it and announce it for what it is. This is about freedom.
Governor Schwarzenegger, you may never see this with your own eyes and it may not touch your life at all, but I hope that someone else in your family, or in your office or in your life can speak these same words to you: Think not of what is popular. Think of what is right.
Thank you for listening.
(If you feel strongly about the issue of same-sex marriage and its legalization, please tell our governor how you feel. I already did.)
Postscript: The governor’s response received 11/15/05, somewhat after his veto of the bill in question.
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.
September 8, 2005