Schwarzenegger Aides to Meet with Gay Groups

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Aides to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger have agreed to meet with leaders of gay and lesbian rights groups on Wednesday, two days before the same-sex marriage bill the Legislature passed this month is due to arrive on his desk.

However, Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Margita Thompson assured media that the 90-minute meeting is not a sign the governor is considering changing his mind about vetoing the bill.

In fact, the marriage bill will not be a topic of conversation between gay leaders and the governor’s acting chief of staff and other top aides, she said. “This is an outreach meeting that happens within the normal course of business, and I understand there is heightened media interest,” Thompson said. “The legislation is specifically not going to be discussed.”

Schwarzenegger has said repeatedly he believes the issue of same-sex marriage should be decided by the courts, not the Legislature.

A separate challenge to Proposition 22, the initiative voters approved in 2002 that limited marriage to heterosexual couples, is making its way to the California Supreme Court.

But gay leaders said they would continue pressing the governor on the issue until he actually vetoes the bill – and they plan to bring it up during the meeting.

“There are real people he’s going to harm with the veto pen,” said Geoffrey Kors, executive director of Equality California, the LGBT rights organization behind the marriage bill. “Instead, he could be a shining example of a strong leader and someone who is going to stand for equality.”

If the governor believes the issue should be left to the courts, Kors said, he should sign the bill and let it face an inevitable court challenge.

If the legislation is brought up, Thompson said, “it will be cordially listened to, but it won’t have any impact on the decision.”