FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | February 23, 2004
Governor's Portrayal of Riots in San Francisco Unfounded
(San Francisco, CA, February 23, 2004) — Equality California and the National Center for Lesbian Rights today denounced remarks made by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger predicting riots and deaths as a result of San Francisco's policy of issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In his comments, the Governor also compared these marriage licenses to licenses for assault weapons or illegal drugs.
Geoffrey Kors, Executive Director of Equality California, the statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil rights advocacy organization, issued the following statement in response:
"Governor Schwarzenegger's remarks on Meet the Press predicting riots and deaths in San Francisco as a result of the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples were inaccurate and irresponsible. By raising the issue of riots and deaths he risks being the impetus for the riots and hate crimes he claims he wants to avoid. The entire world has been watching and is well aware that since Mayor Newsom ended discrimination against same-sex couples, San Francisco's City Hall has been filled with love, joy, and celebration.
In addition, comparing marriages to assault weapons and illegal drugs is offensive not just to same-sex couples, but to all families. By ending discrimination against lesbian and gay couples who were being denied marriage licenses in violation of the equal protection clause of the California Constitution, San Francisco has been following the law of the State of California. Licenses for weapons, as the Governor should know, are denied or granted based on background criminal checks, not factors such as religion, age, race, sexual orientation and gender. That the Governor would make this type of comparison is truly shocking and highly offensive.
The Governor has stated that the issue should be decided quickly in the courts. The courts are addressing this issue and two different state court judges have ruled that San Francisco can continue issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. As the case progresses, we hope that the Governor will keep an open mind about marriage equality, and especially about AB 1967, the Marriage License Non-Discrimination Act, which would end marriage discrimination throughout the state."
Kate Kendell, Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, lead counsel for the intervening couples in the litigation against the City and County of San Francisco, made the following statement:
"It is the height of irresponsibility for the governor of California to engage in histrionic misinformation regarding the situation in San Francisco, which has been overwhelmingly positive. Since the city began issuing marriage licenses equally to same-sex couples, the atmosphere in San Francisco has been one of celebration, love, and joy. For the governor to so appallingly mislead the nation about the state of civic order in the city demonstrates a profound lack of integrity - and humanity."
EQCA is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots-based, statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to ensure the dignity, safety, equality and civil rights of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians. Equality California is one of the largest and fastest growing statewide LGBT organizations in the country. They can be contacted through their website at www.eqca.org.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.