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Arnold Knows Best?


Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger met publicly with a gay and lesbian group for the first time since taking office nearly three years ago, and although they were gay Republicans he spoke to, the real elephant in the room was Gay Marriage. It’s widely assumed that Schwarzenegger’s veto of marriage equality legislation in 2005 was a slap to the gay community—but what if Arnold in vetoing the bill had a better grasp on how to achieve equal rights than Log Cabin, Equality California or any other groups?
Speaking to the Log Cabin Republicans, Governor Schwarzenegger said, “Today we need a higher level of understanding, not lower. We need a sense of tolerance that is stronger, not weaker. I pledge to you that I will continue to promote these values as your governor, as your fellow Republican, and as your friend.”
And after reminding the crowd that despite their shared values they may disagree—twice—Schwarzenegger pulled a line out of his campaign commercials, stating that we need to move the State forwards, not backwards.
What if, in the context of promoting Marriage Equality, vetoing the bill last September was actually the Governor’s attempt to move the issue forward?
Before you tell me that’s crazy talk, consider this. Just six years ago, California voters chose overwhelmingly (70% in favor) to recognize out-of-State marriages only if they were between a man and a woman.
Whether Arnold had signed the marriage bill last year, or (god forbid) a Governor Phil Angelides signs similar legislation next year, one thing will be certain—the measure will be sent to the voters in a referendum.
While the gay political establishment has done a good job electing 41 Democrats to the State Assembly who support the cause, little has been done to change the hearts and minds of most Californians…let alone Republicans. You could put your money on such a law being overturned at the ballot box—just like voters rejected Universal Healthcare in 2004.
Just fighting the battle at the polls—let alone suffering a defeat—would be ten big steps backwards for civil rights in California.
On the other hand, Governor Schwarzenegger, in vetoing the marriage bill last fall, said that the issue should be decided by the courts or the voters.
Within the year, the State Supreme Court will assuredly get a case challenging the discrimination in the State’s Family Code based on the equal protection provisions in the California Constitution. To overturn such a decision, voters would have to strike the equal protection clause from the State Constitution—which I believe would be a much tougher sell.
Who knows what’s really going on inside Governor Schwarzenegger’s head when it comes to equal rights for all Californians, but listening to him speak, you get the sense that it’s something he struggles with. Sensing that, it’s possible to reach the conclusion that, indeed, Arnold knows best.

Share  Posted by Scott Olin Schmidt at 1:13 PM | Permalink

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