Schwarzenegger blocks marriage, signs other gay-friendly legislation

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California Assemblyman Mark Leno,a San Francisco Democrat, was not happy to hear that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed another gay marriage bill on Friday, once again saying voters and the state Supreme Court, not the legislature, should decide the issue.

In a statement released on Friday, Schwarzenegger said Californians “should not be discriminated against based upon their sexual orientation.”

He added that he supports state laws that give domestic partners many of the rights and responsibilities of marriage.

Schwarzenegger wasn’t simply the bearer of bad news for the LGBT community on Friday.

Some good news also came out the California Governor’s office late last week.

Along with two other LGBT-positive bills, Schwarzenegger signed the Student Civil Rights Act and the Safe Place to Learn Act on Friday, which aim to protect students from harassment and bullying in public schools by making sure teachers and school administrators fully understand their responsibilities to protect youth.

The vetoed bill, known as AB 43, would have amended California law to define marriage as a civil contract between two people.

After Schwarzenegger announced his veto, Leno told the San Francisco Chronicle that the governor missed a “lifetime opportunity to show extraordinary leadership and be a real-life action hero.

“He chose to fail his opportunity for greatness,” he added.

Various gay rights groups also expressed disappointment with Schwarzenegger’s decision.

Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California, called the veto “hypocrisy at its worst.

“We find it shocking for the Governor to say he opposes discrimination based on sexual orientation and then veto a bill that would have ended discrimination based on sexual orientation,” Kors said in a statement.

“With a stroke of a pen, the Governor could have been remembered as one of our nations courageous and principled leaders,” Pamela Brown, Marriage Equality USA policy director, said in a separate statement.

“Instead, he will be remembered as one who blocked the way for thousands of loving, committed same-sex couples from getting married.”

Both groups are sponsoring protests throughout the state today in response to Schwarzenegger’s veto.

AB 43 was Leno’s third attempt at creating a gender-neutral marriage bill.

Schwarzenegger rejected a similar bill in 2005, and has said he would veto all such bills that come before him.

It doesn’t sound as though Leno will give up the fight, however.

Supporters of same-sex marriage eventually will prevail, he told the San Francisco Chronicle.

“There’s never been a civil rights movement in the country that has failed,” he added.

Bryan Ochalla © 2007; All Rights Reserved.