Arnold's fateful decision

Gov. Schwarzenegger has promised to veto a state bill legalizing gay marriage.

Published September 7, 2005 9:55PM (EDT)

Salon editorial fellow Aaron Kinney examines Arnold Schwarzenegger's big announcement on gay marriage.

With his approval ratings tumbling, and with an embarrassing new report on his ties to special interests hitting newsstands, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has made what promises to be a pivotal decision in his nascent political career. On Wednesday evening Schwarzenegger announced that he will veto a measure approved by the state Legislature that would have legalized gay marriage.

Schwarzenegger said his decision is based on the the precedent of Proposition 22, the voter-approved initiative that defined marriage in California as between a man and a woman. Gubernatorial spokeswoman Margita Thompson said Schwarzenegger did not wish to tamper with "the will of the people" by overriding Prop. 22. Thompson added that the governor still believes that gay couples are entitled to equal protection under the law from discrimination.

Schwarzenegger's stance is an interesting one, given his image as a social moderate, and he's sure to be vilified in San Francisco and Los Angeles, the liberal bastions of the state. Here's one factor that may be pumping through Schwarzenegger's brain: If he were to sign that bill, he could say "Hasta la vista" to ever winning the Republican nomination for president. Schwarzenegger is still a constitutional amendment away from being eligible to run, but he's a glass-half-full kind of guy, so he still harbors the notion of a presidential campaign. Schwarzenegger is smart enough to know that if he goes too far in the direction of social liberalism, he'll take a fatal beating in the GOP primaries. Are we witnessing the termination of Arnold Schwarzenegger's independence?

By Aaron Kinney

Aaron Kinney is a writer in San Francisco. He has a blog.

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