Just moments after the California Assembly passed AB 849 that would have replaced references to �male� and
�female� in the state�s marriage code with �two persons,� Traditional Values
Coalition lobbyist and spokesman Benjamin Lopez flew into a tirade replete
with the usual nonsensical assertions and political threats.
Assembly has turned its back on California�s families . . . [the Assembly has]
taken it upon themselves to ram down the throats of Californians a twisted,
out-of-step, out-of-mainstream version of marriage and family. They will surely
pay for this.
It is clear
that Democrats are in bed with the radical homosexual community and they are
not using any protection . . . It is Democrats that are pro-gay and
No, Mr. Lopez. As usual you and the Traditional Values
Coalition can�t see further than your own bigotry and hate. By approving AB 849
the Assembly confirmed its belief in and support for all California families, even those you and the TVC would like to
see denigrated and discriminated against.
One has to wonder if lobbyists like Lopez and the
self-righteous leaders of the Christian Right ever think about the real-life
human beings�men, women and children�they so vehemently campaign against in the
name of religion. For all the sanctimonious �pro-family� rhetoric, their
theocratic politics are distinctly anti-family and anti-human. It was none
other than the Rev. Lou Sheldon, founder and chairman of the Traditional Values
Coalition, who argued
against giving aid to the surviving members of gay and lesbian partnerships
and their children after 9/11.
Clearly, Sheldon and his cronies don�t see gay Americans as real people, much
less equal citizens. And they don�t see their families at all.
George Skelton began his LA Times article,
�Debate Brings Clarity to Gay Marriage Issue� historically and axiomatically: �The accepted wisdom . . . has always been that legislative
floor speeches never change votes. Maybe. But they do change views:
example, a 90-minute debate Thursday in the state Senate on a bill to allow
same-sex marriages: It changed my view.
it cleared up my muddled view, which really began shifting eight years ago
during a chat at the back of the Senate chamber with then-President Pro Tem
Bill Lockyer. [Mr. Lockyer is now California�s attorney general.]
you feel about gay marriage? I asked.
�'You know,' he
replied, 'people have so many problems and life�s so short, if letting gays marry
gives them some joy and happiness, why not? I say let them do it.'�
The poignancy was updated and underscored by Mr. Skelton:
compelling debate continued, I kept thinking about what Lockyer had said�and
the people suffering in hurricane hell, the American soldiers being blown up,
the gas price gougers. And I wondered why anybody should worry about what we
call two people living together in a loving relationship."
Skelton noted that during the Assembly�s debate, �there
was a lot of talk about God.� But like more and more Americans, he recognized
that �my god doesn't fret about homosexuality.� He also acknowledged that some
people �believe that theirs does.� Some people are indeed led to believe their
�God� hates its own creations.
That�s the perverted message propagated by homophobe
extraordinaire Rev. Lou Sheldon,
as well as by Jerry
Falwell, whose �God� okayed 9/11, and Pat Robertson,
whose �God� okayed murder and assassination. These ministers of malignancy use
the murderous, dung-slinging �God� of Malachi 2: 2�3, coupled
with their own obsessive-compulsive need to hate�and sling the brown stuff�to
argue that monogamous same-sex parents are not equal humans or citizens and
that the 8 to 10 million children those same-sex parents are currently rearing
in their American families deserve no social, legal or economic recognition.
The ministers of malignancy succeeded this time, thanks to
Arnold Schwarzenegger. A day after the
California legislature spoke, and even before the bill was printed, Schwarzenegger�s press secretary announced that the
governor would veto it. Apparently the Terminator didn�t have the guts to make
the announcement himself.
Margita Thompson made it for him:
years ago the matter of same-sex marriage was placed before the people of
California. The people voted and the issue is now before the courts. The
Governor believes the matter should be determined not by legislative
action�which would be unconstitutional�but by court decision or another vote of
the people of our state. We cannot have a system where the people vote and the
Legislature derails that vote. Out of respect for the
will of the people, the Governor will veto AB 849."
Pundits and analysts agreed:
Schwarzenegger�s swift decision was an effort to gain favor with GOP
ultra-conservatives. As the San Francisco Chronicle reported,
Schwarzenegger needed �something to fire up his supporters heading into the
Nov. 8 special election. With both his �Live Within Our Means� budget
initiative and reapportionment revamp slipping in the polls, the governor can�t
afford to have any Republicans stay away on election day.� That was precisely
the threat Benjamin Lopez had made: �They will surely pay for this. . . . If
the Governor signs AB 849 into law, I predict he will lose his reforms at the
November election as many conservatives will simply stay home in protest.� As
Mark Leno, one of the bill�s sponsors, said, the Christian Right and particularly
the Traditional Values Coalition �threw a public tantrum, and the governor
The veto statement concluded with
�Out of respect for the will of the people, the governor will veto AB849.'� The
reference is to Proposition 22, an initiative passed in 2000 that banned
same-sex marriage in California. But as the San Francisco Chronicle and
Mr. Skelton pointed out, the views of rational, reasonable, socially conscious,
fair-minded people evolve:
"Two months before voters passed
Prop. 22, a poll by the Public Policy Institute of California showed that
likely voters favored a ban on same-sex marriage by 57 to 38 percent. In a poll
taken last month by the same group, likely voters were split evenly on the
question, 46 to 46 percent, although nearly 70 percent of [conservative]
Republican voters continued to disapprove."
A September 9, 2005 New York Times
also took note of that poll and the changing views toward marriage
equality, as well as other aspects of Schwarzenegger�s ridiculous explanation
for the swift veto:
"For years, social conservatives
have accused judges of deciding social issues that should be left to
legislators. Now Mr. Schwarzenegger wants to ignore his Legislature and leave
gay marriage to the courts or the voters at large to decide. . . .
"Mr. Schwarzenegger also seems to
have forgotten that this nation was founded as a republic, in which the
citizens elect legislators to govern on their behalf. Such representative
democracy is especially important when it comes to protecting the fundamental
rights of minorities, who may face bigoted hostility from some segments of the
Aside from ignoring the essence of �republic,� letting the
voters decide every issue sounds �democratic,� but Tocqueville was right: there
is a worm in the American apple. Canada�s Prime Minister Paul Martin put it
most succinctly when he said that civil rights is not a popularity contest. The
point had been clearly made by a 1968 Gallup poll that showed a whopping 72
percent of Americans opposed interracial marriage a year after the Supreme Court legalized it (Loving v. Virginia). A �popularity vote� in 1968 would have delayed
interracial marriage equality for years. A popularity vote on codifying racial
segregation in some Southern states�and probably a few others�in 1950 would
almost certainly have delayed African Americans� civil rights for years if not
Rights delayed are civil rights denied, Mr. Schwarzenegger.
History is quite clear on that, as it will be on your political pandering and