Wow. I had been assuming that this wouldn't come to a vote for a long time, and that when it did it would be immediately defeated. (Because a similar or possibly identical bill was voted down in the Assembly three months ago.) But no:
The state Assembly, in a stunning victory for the gay rights movement, approved a landmark bill allowing same-sex marriage Tuesday night and sent it to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
(The state Senate approved the bill last week.)
Lots more info in a Chronicle article: "Gay marriage up to governor now." (The quotes above and below are from that article.)
Schwarzenegger has indicated that he feels this issue should be decided by a vote or by the courts:
"The governor believes the people spoke with Prop. 22, and that is now in the courts," said Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Margita Thompson. "The governor believes that is where it belongs and will uphold any decisions the courts make."
Which is a fascinating position; it'll be interesting to hear whether conservative Republicans agree with him, given all the hoopla about activist courts lately. (I think of Schwarzenegger as fairly moderate.)
(Note that Prop. 22, also known as the Knight Initiative, defined marriage as being between a man and a woman—but that was in the section of the law that was about recognizing marriages from out of state. Prop. 22 turns out to not technically outlaw same-sex marriage performed in CA. Though one might reasonably suppose, as Schwarzenegger does, that the voters meant it to apply to CA marriages as well. On the other hand, three Assembly members changed their minds in favor of this bill in the last three months; I can vaguely imagine some of the public having changed their minds in the last five years.)
If you have an opinion on the bill, you can let Schwarzenegger know about it by calling an automated system at his office. I have no idea whether he'll pay any attention to this, and I don't know whether they filter out non-California area codes (seems like they ought to, but there's no indication that they do). But I figure it can't hurt to call, especially if you live in California. It takes one minute, and it's completely automated and very simple, with clear prompts. Here's how:
- Call (916) 445-2841. (The governor's office.)
- Press 2 (to comment on legislation).
- Press 1 (to comment on AB 849, the "gender-neutral marriage act").
- Press 1 (to support it) or press 2 (to oppose it).
(I, of course, hope you support it.)
(Thanks to Will Q. and musingsylph for the instructions.)
Sadly, even if the governor does sign this bill, there will be major opposition afterward:
Opponents have promised to go to court if the bill becomes law, saying it violates the spirit of Proposition 22, a 2000 ballot initiative that defined marriage as being between a man and a woman. They also say they will go to the polls next year with proposed constitutional amendments that would ban same-sex marriage.
I continue to be torn. On the one hand, it seems like a bad idea to provoke backlash that could leave us worse off, with a state constitutional amendment. On the other hand, I'm totally delighted that the legislature passed the bill, and I can't bring myself to see that as a bad thing. And yeah, regardless of the backlash, I'll be even more delighted if Schwarzenegger signs the bill; that would be really amazing.