Under the shadow of the National Equality March, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger quietly signed some major LGBT bills proposed by state Sen. Mark Leno last night.
The first bill, which the governor had vetoed the first time it hit his desk, designates May 22 as Harvey Milk Day, and requires “the governor proclaim May 22 each year as Harvey Milk Day. It would encourage public schools and educational institutions to conduct suitable commemorative exercises on that date.” It will not be a state holiday.
The second is Senate Bill 54, which clarifies the status of same-sex marriage legally performed outside of California. Those performed during the time marriage equality was legal within the Golden State will be recognized as marriages - all other legal same-sex marriages will be recognized by the state and receive all the rights and benefits of marriage the state can bestow but not the name.
When signing the bill, Gov. Schwarzenegger said:
"Following the passage of Proposition 8, there has been some uncertainty as to how California should treat same-sex couples that married out-of-state while same-sex marriage was legal in California. Consistent with the California Supreme Court’s decision that upheld the validity of those in-state marriages entered into prior to the passage of Proposition 8, Senate Bill 54 clarifies that California must also recognize as married couples that legally married in another state during the same period of time in which same-sex marriage was legal in California.Karen Ocamb reports that EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors, who sponsored the bills, said:
"In addition, Senate Bill 54 also requires that California recognize the union of couples that marry in states where same-sex marriage is legal. As required by Proposition 8, California will not recognize such couples as “married.” However, Senate Bill 54 will provide the same legal protections that would otherwise be available to couples that enter into civil unions or domestic partnerships out-of-state. In short, this measure honors the will of the People in enacting Proposition 8 while providing important protections to those unions legally entered into in other states."
"This is a historic year for LGBT rights in California. With the signing of these bills a record nine EQCA sponsored LGBT piecs of legislation were passed in California in 2009. The Milk Day Bill marks the very first time an openly LGBT person has been officially recognized by any state government. As a result, Harvey’s legacy and our history will be taught for decades to come and youth will learn that they have a role model who sacrified everything to make the world safer and more equal for them. The marriage recognition bill requires that all legally married same-sex couples who married in other states and nations before Prop 8 passed are recognized as legally married in California. And even more importantly, that all same-sex couples who get married in other states or countries after Prop 8 passed be treated the same as married couples with the exception of use of the word “married” for legal purposes. These bills passed thanks to strategic lobbying and grassroots work on the ground and on-line by EQCA staff and our members. We owe a great amount to Senator Leno for his hard work and to our Republican Governor for standing up to right wing attacks on both of these bills.”"When California offered marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2008, spouses who were already married in another state or country were prohibited from re-marrying in California," said Senator Leno. "Now those couples and their families are in limbo because their rights and protections under law are not clear. This new law will ensure that same-sex couples are protected by existing California law that recognizes all marriages equally, regardless of where they are performed."
“The Governor signed three EQCA sponsored bills and vetoed two others bills on the grounds that existing law and policy already provided the protections the bills sought to put into statute: legislation allowing out of state transgender individuals to get new birth certicifcates and a bill to require that the special needs of LGBT people in the correction system be taken into account. While we believe it is important to have these protections in statute rather than just as policy or court precedent, and are disappointed by the unnecssary vetos, the Governor’s reaffirmation of these policies will hopefully help ensure they are enforced so that all Californians are treated equality and with dignity.”