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California Legislature Passes Homosexual Marriage Bill
Targeted Democrats cave...

[Chuck DeVore] 9/8/05

By the slimmest of margins in each house, 21-15 in the State Senate (21 votes needed for passage) and 41-35 in the State Assembly (41 votes needed for passage), the California legislature sent Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger the homosexual marriage bill, AB 849. When the governor vetoes this bill, it will cement his reelection and start his long march back to the top of the heap in California politics.

Assemblyman Mark Leno’s (D-San Francisco) first attempt at passing a homosexual marriage bill, AB 19, failed twice on June 2, first on a 35 to 37 vote, then on a 37 to 36 vote, as one Democrat, Alberto Torrico, flipped from voting “no” to “aye”.

Undeterred, Mr. Leno looked to a bill that had made it to the Senate, AB 849, a bill originally about fish, and then “gutted and amended” it with the same language as the twice-failed AB 19. His reasoning for doing so was sound. At 25 Democrats to 15 Republicans, the State Senate is more liberal than the State Assembly. In addition, by resorting to the little-understood “gut and amend” parliamentary tactic, Mr. Leno outflanked many grassroots, pro-family lobbying groups who mistakenly thought the bill was dead for the year.

Chuck DeVore

Assemblyman Chuck DeVore represents 450,000 residents of Orange County California’s 70th Assembly District.. He served as a Reagan White House appointee in the Pentagon from 1986 to 1988 and was Senior Assistant to Cong. Chris Cox. He is a lieutenant colonel in the Army National Guard. Chuck’s novel, CHINA ATTACKS, sells internationally and has been translated into Chinese for sales in Taiwan. [go to DeVore index]

What then followed was a relentless arm-twisting effort by a wealthy and active core constituency of the Democrat Party: the Gay Lobby. Democrat members in the Assembly who voted “no” or who abstained were targeted day and night. Fundraising considerations were paramount in this calculus as Democrats facing tough primaries in gerrymandered liberal districts typically win by running to the left of their opponents with little to worry about in the general election. The Gay Lobby let it be known: vote against our bill and you’ll never win another race in California again.

After winning passage in the Senate on September 1, AB 849 moved over to the Assembly where it needed four more votes to pass. Of the members who abstained or who voted “no”, most observers thought that the venerable Assemblyman Mervyn M. Dymally, former Lieutenant Governor and former U.S. Representative, would be a sure “aye” vote, as his abstention previously occurred because it was late at night and he was out of the chamber. Where Mr. Leno would get the other three votes was of considerable speculation, with Democrats Tom Umberg, Gloria Negrete McLeod, and Simon Salinas, all eying State Senate races, being the most likely to put the bill over the top.

The first targeted Democrat to speak was Mr. Umberg. Termed out of the Assembly in 2006, Mr. Umberg faces running for a Senate seat that is moving more towards the tossup column. Burdened with a campaign debt in excess of one million dollars from previous statewide runs for office as well as a spate of bad press relating to his personal life, Mr. Umberg explained that perhaps the house wouldn’t be having this debate if he had voted for it the first time around instead of abstaining. Word in Orange County is that Mr. Umberg’s turnabout on the homosexual marriage bill has all but guaranteed him Democrat primary opposition from O.C. Supervisor Lou Correa, a former member of the Assembly. Assuming he survives a challenge from within his own ranks from a moderate Democrat with a strong grassroots following, Mr. Umberg might then face rising star Republican Assemblyman Van Tran, who represents a large portion of the senate seat Mr. Umberg covets. Mr. Umberg’s flip-flop probably cost him, and the Democrats, a Senate seat in 2006.

The next lobbied Democrat to speak was Ms. Negrete McLeod. She too said that had she voted instead of abstaining the last time, the house would probably not have been forced to debate the issue again. Interestingly, Ms. Negrete McLeod is running for a Senate seat in socially conservative San Bernardino against freshman Democrat Assemblymember Joe Baca, Jr., the son of U.S. Representative Joe Baca (D-CA). During his time in the Assembly, Mr. Baca has carved out for himself a moderate voting record, as has Ms. Negrete McLeod. In this vote on the controversial issue, Mr. Baca abstained after having voted against the measure twice before. Expect Ms. Negrete McLeod to use her vote to raise funds while Mr. Baca will rely on his family’s formidable political machine to carry the day in the Senate primary race next June.

As the debate wrapped up, uncharacteristically long and philosophical for a body that approves so many bills it barely has time to vote on them, much less discuss them, the Speaker Pro Tem called the roll. Within seconds the bill had 40 votes with 36 in opposition and three abstentions (there is one vacancy). The Assembly gallery was quiet, press cameras whirred away while television lenses swept the floor. A few members gathered around Mr. Salinas’ desk and urged him to be the 41st vote. He relented. There were gasps in the gallery but one member quickly “moved the call” to delay the tally before the Speaker Pro Tem could call it. Within moments the call was lifted, and the Speaker tallied the votes resulting in pandemonium as the advocates for homosexual marriage in the gallery hooted, yelled, clapped, and cried.

As with many political actions throughout the course of history, the winners and losers are not now obvious. When Governor Schwarzenegger vetoes the homosexual marriage bill, however, he will galvanize much-needed conservative support behind his soon to be announced reelection campaign. His actions will remind conservatives that the Governator is the only thing standing between them and the extreme liberals who run the California State Legislature. In the final analysis, the homosexual marriage bill will only ensure one thing: Republican gains in California in 2006. CRO

This piece first appeared at Human Events Online

copyright 2005 Chuck DeVore




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