Asked if he would sign a gay marriage bill, the governor replied, "No. I wouldn't sign it because the people of California have voted on that issue."
The governor was obliquely referring to the passage of Proposition 22 in 2000 to limit marriage to a man and a woman. The measure only applied to out-of-state marriages; state lawmakers had already restricted marriages performed in California to between a man and woman in the 1970s.
Schwarzenegger, a Republican who has shifted noticeably to the center, cited the same initiative in vetoing in 2005 a same-sex marriage bill by Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). Leno is pushing a similar bill, AB43, this year, and has already lined up enough support to ensure passage in the legislature.
According to an account of the governor's remarks reported by the Sacramento Bee Friday, Schwarzenegger also said that if another gay marriage measure goes on the California ballot in the future, "the people can make the decision."
Now pardon this Libertarian's cynicism, but since when have politicians suddenly been in favor of "the people" deciding major issues?
We certainly didn't have our voices listened to when George W. Bush launched his illegal Iraq war under false pretenses.
When deficits ballooned and federal spending soared, not one of the millions of people who were calling for restraint was even consulted -- let alone listened to.
On a variety of so-called "tough issues," politicians from both of the old parties thrust themselves into the fray and made self-described "tough calls" with "unpopular decisions" that they described as "tests of leadership."
But it seems that on simple treatment of gay Americans under the law, our Constitution isn't sufficient. After all, that's just a piece of paper that gets in the way of "tests of leadership."
And courts? Heaven forbid gay folks go to court and demand that our constitutional rights be respected. Why, judges who go against the will of a majority of a small contingent of voters are horrendous activists! How dare they insist that the Constitution take precedence over the inflamed passions of statism? Gays should go to the legislature and convince the legislators -- as politicians from George W. Bush to John Kerry insisted we do.
OK, so on gays march to the legislatures, where they get popular votes in favor of equality in places as divergent as California and Connecticut -- only to have Schwarzenegger and other politicians suddenly become timid direct democrats.
Something tells me that this is less about the "will of the people" and more about the immorality of lazy, duplicitous politicians.
Speaking of which, whenever Libertarians point out that Republicans and Democrats are all the same on many issues (including gay issues), we're accused by their partisans of "poisoning the debate." Someone should inform California Log Cabin Republican spokesman James Vaughn:
"We want to make sure we keep the dialogue open with anyone. Our community should keep an open mind whether it is with presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Rudy Giuliani, or the governor," sad Vaughn. "They are all in the same boat when it comes to their views on this issue."
Indeed they are in the same boat -- the one labeled "principle-free politician."