As was expected, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed California’s same-sex marriage bill late Thursday afternoon. The action came came on a day in which he rejected 51 other bills as well.

In explaining his decision, Schwarzenegger wrote that he believed gay couples were entitled to “full protection under the law and should not be discriminated against,” but that he felt the bill would have reversed a 2000 ballot measure that declared only a marriage between a man and a woman is legal in California.

The same-sex marriage bill – which squeaked by in the State Senate and Assembly earlier this month with no Republican votes – was the first in the country that legalized gay marriage using the power of the legislature without a court order.

In recent weeks, Democratic San Francisco Assemblyman Mark Leno, the sponsor of the bill, attempted every conceivable means possible to persuade the Governor to change his mind. Earlier this week, Leno accused the Governor of “hiding behind the fig leaf” of the 2000 ballot measure, Proposition 22.

That measure was approved by 61 percent of voters, but recent polls have suggested that Californians are now almost evenly divided on the issue.

Leno said that the veto “puts the governor on the wrong side of history. He cannot claim to support fair and equal legal protections for same-sex couples and veto the very bill that would have provided it to them.”

Opponents of gay marriage praised the veto, characterizing Leno’s bill as an attempt to do an end-around Proposition 22.

The Los Angeles Times reported Friday that the veto comes at a time when Schwarzenegger’s Republican base has become essential to any attempt at a bid for re-election. With his approval rating slipping to an all-time low of 33-percent, the former action star has announced that he will seek re-election next year.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, Connecticut will join Vermont as the only states to offer same-sex civil unions. Unfortunately for those planning their ceremonies, the launch comes on a day when only a handful of town clerks’ offices plan to be open, according to a report by MTV News.

“Saturday is going to be a landmark day in the civil rights movement in Connecticut,” said Democratic State Senator Andrew McDonald, one of only a few openly gay legislators in Connecticut’s General Assembly.

Connecticut’s law passed in April, making it the first state to recognize same-sex unions without court intervention. The civil unions will give same-sex couples the same legal protections as married couples, including spousal health-care benefits.

Laws allowing gay couples to marry in Vermont and Massachusetts were passed as the result of legal action. Despite the change, Connecticut will not recognize same-sex marriages because its law specifies marriage is between a man and a woman only.

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