Governor Schwarzenegger does not hate gay people. He knows many as an actor, from Merv Griffin to Rosie O’Donnell. He has signed almost every lesbian and gay rights law he has received. He signed our very effective Domestic Partnership legislation. His Chief of Staff is a Lesbian.
It is unknown why he stops short on legal marriage. Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed a nearly identical bill in 2005. The reasons he has given range from weak to dismissable (lacks authority to override Proposition 22, wants the people to decide).
The legislature changed the California Family Code section 300 from “two persons” to “man and woman” in 1977. The change was signed by Governor Jerry Brown. Schwarzenegger says he lacks the authority to sign AB 43, but it is the same authority as Jerry Brown had in 1977. The legislature changes their laws all the time. Governor Schwarzenegger might be sued, but better him than me.
The people passed Proposition 22 in 2000 adding a section to the part of the California Family Code that deals with marriages performed in other places. Section 308 says California has to honor marriages performed elsewhere, and the new section, 308.5, limits that to heterosexual marriages performed elsewhere. It is a state rights issue. AB 43 does not change 308 or 308.5. The courts will need to sort that out but in the meantime we will have gay marriage and the will of the legislature will be on record.
We need AB 43 for several strategic reasons:
if the Supreme court decides in October that Californians deserve gay marriage, we will still need AB 43 to provide it.
a pro-marriage law will drive the courts towards legal marriage.
a pro-marriage law will drive the people towards legal marriage.
an anti-gay ballot initiative becomes one that removes freedoms rather than one that just reinforces existing law (unnecessary, benign).
Churches that do not believe in same-sex marriage (or any other kind of marriage) will not have to perform any ceremony. More importantly, churches that DO believe in same-sex marriage will finally be able to perform them (United Church of Christ, Metropolitan Community Church.)
Same-sex marriages and registered partnerships (Domestic Partnerships, civil unions) are not the same. Although registered partnerships give same-sex couples most of the benefits and protections of civil marriage, the couples are not legally married. Registered partnerships create two sets of laws that are expensive to administer, and they deprive California citizens of their dignity. Nobody grows up dreaming of getting ‘domestic partnered.’