Schwarzenegger pledges veto on homosexual unions bill

Aiming to shore up support among his Republican base, a politically weakened Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger seems almost certain to veto a bill that would allow gay marriage in California, political analysts said on Wednesday.

The bill, passed late on Tuesday in California's Democrat-led Assembly, marked the first time a state legislature in the United States has endorsed gay marriage. The state Senate backed the bill last week.

A spokeswoman for Schwarzenegger said the governor supports Proposition 22, a voter-approved measure defining marriage as between a man and woman. He also believes the courts are the "correct venue" for deciding on the state's ban on same-sex marriages, she said.

Gay marriage is under review in California courts following San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's decision in 2004 to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples a move that set off a national debate.

California's Supreme Court has invalidated the San Francisco licenses, but left the wider issue of whether the ban on gay marriage is constitutional to lower courts.

Democrats admit the gay marriage bill is largely a symbolic gesture and they do not expect Schwarzenegger to back it.

"It certainly seems like he wants the courts to make the decision for him, but we truly feel like we did the right thing," said Richard Stapler, an aide to Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, reports Reuters.

More than 3,400 gay couples got married in California after the city's new mayor decided to defy state law and allow gay weddings in 2004.

But later in the year the state's Supreme Court ruled the mayor had exceeded his authority and nullified the unions.

In March this year a judge ruled that Californian state law had breached a constitutional right to equal treatment of all citizens, irrespective of sexuality.

The issue is now expected to go back to the Supreme Court, informs BBC.

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