Arnold Schwarzenegger seemed to grow wiser at the 11th hour and did not make good on his threat to veto hundreds of bills in an effort to bully still warring legislators to come together long enough to craft a state water policy. (It was a tactic that the governor has used throughout his tenure with little success.)
Instead, although the governor did veto 229 bills, he signed 478—among those signed were three forward looking bills that were were seen as surprising and welcome victories by gay, lesbian and transgender communities.
Summaries of the three bills are as follows:
-The Marriage Recognition and Family Protection Act clarifies that same-sex couples who married out of state before Nov. 4, 2008 are considered married in California. Same-sex couples who have married or will marry out of state after Nov. 5, 2008 will gain all the rights of marriage in California, with the sole exception of the designation of “marriage.”
-The LGBT Domestic Violence Programs Expansion Bill will leverage funding for same-sex domestic violence services, helping to sustain the critical organizations that serve the LGBT community in this area.
-The Harvey Milk Day Bill establishes in California the first day of recognition for the slain civil rights hero. Harvey Milk Day will be May 22 of each year, Harvey’s birthday.
In particular, many seemed surprised and heartened by the governor’s signature on the Harvey Milk Day Bill—a bill that he had vetoed in the past. Milk is the second Californian, after naturalist John Muir, to receive the honor.
“We are grateful to the Governor for signing these critical and groundbreaking measures into law and rising above partisan politics to improve the lives of LGBT Californians,” said Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors. Equality California is the largest gay-rights organization in the state.
The Harvey Milk Day bill marks the first time in the nation’s history that a state will officially recognize and celebrate the contributions of an openly LGBT person with an annual “day of special significance.”
“Californians will now learn about Harvey’s amazing contributions to the advancement of civil rights for decades to come,” Kors said. “He is a role model to millions, and this legislation will help ensure his legacy lives on forever.”
Yep, this is indeed a very good thing.
MID-MORNING POST SCRIPT: I admit, and I’m not happy about this, that I didn’t truly understand of the significance of Harvey Milk until I saw the Sean Penn movie. But then, however belatedly, I really got it.
Now, as a Californian, I’m thrilled that we will be able to officially celebrate the life and work of this astonishingly brave, remarkable and prescient man who, by example as a civil rights hero, was not merely a role model for gay and lesbian kids so long desperately in need of one, but who also pointed the way to a better, braver, saner, more compassionate way of living for every single one of us.
And thank you to Arnold, for doing the right thing. Seriously.