Sen. Mark Leno has a diverse legislative platform, from single payer health care to fighting against toxics in our homes. However, it is for his work for marriage equality that he has built his name in San Francisco and Sacramento.
Today, the Senator bags two more achievements. First, after getting a veto from the governor last year, the state will now declare May 22 Harvey Milk Day (not a day-off though). The recognition for a man who was dedicated to pushing for equal rights for himself and his community is an important marker for the fight for full equality for the LGBT community. It does not win us any additional rights, but it does give the state a chance to pause and reflect on a man who gave everything for the struggle.
On the other hand, Sen. Leno’s SB 54 does have an immediate and real impact that goes beyond symbolism. The bill would grant marriages performed outside of the state before Prop 8 was passed full marriage status, just as the same-sex marriages performed between June and November. Marriages that were performed after that Nov. 5 date will get all the rights and benefits of a California marriage save the moniker “marriage.”
Apparently Arnold saw the confusion brought about by the situation that Californians who had previously been married in, say Massachusetts, were in. They were told that they didn’t need to renew their marriage, but the law was entirely unclear on the issue.
In a signing message, Schwarzenegger said California will not recognize the couples as married but 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.” (SacBee 10/12/09)
Expect SB 54 to be challenged by at least some of the right-wingers. There’s not much of a substantive legal argument against these measures given the case law as it stands, but that’s never stopped them before.
UPDATE: I forgot to point out that Arnold vetoed two transgendered focused bills, but Pam caught it. The vetoed bills would have made birth certificate records easier to handle and allowed for special protection of transgendered prisoners.