Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced on Sept 17 that he would again veto legislation that would allow same-sex couples to marry in California. The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, which passed the Senate earlier in the month, would amend the state’s Family Code to define marriage as a civil contract between two persons instead of between a man and a woman. Nearly identical legislation was passed and vetoed by Schwarzenegger in 2005.
Schwarzenegger, whose chief of staff, Susan Kennedy, is a lesbian, cites Proposition 22, which he says prevents California from recognizing same-sex marriages, as his reason for the veto. Courts, however, have ruled that Proposition 22, approved by voters in 2000, only applies to marriages performed out of state.
Later this year, or in early 2008, the California Supreme Court will hear oral arguments that challenge the state’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriage. Many cities in the state have filed amicus or “friend-of-the-court” briefs to support these efforts of the city of San Francisco and 15 LGBT couples to overturn the law.
San Diego became the latest city to lend its support to San Francisco and the couples’ court challenge on Sept 18, by vote of the city council. One day later, Mayor Jerry Sanders, during an emotional press conference with his wife, Rana, by his side, announced his intention to sign the resolution despite his previously expressed opposition to same-sex marriage. The Republican revealed his adult daughter is a lesbian, and cited his inability to deny equality to her and members of his staff.
”I’ve decided to lead with my heart,” Sanders said, in explaining his newly embraced support for same-sex marriage.