Gov. signs bills recognizing Harvey Milk, some gay marriages

Minority GroupsPoliticsMarriageRegional AuthorityGovernment

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill creating a state day of recognition for slain gay politician Harvey Milk, reversing himself a year after he vetoed similar legislation. The governor also signed a bill recognizing gay marriages sanctioned in other states during the nearly five months such unions were legal in California.

A year ago, the Republican governor said Milk should be honored locally. His office announced the signing of this year's bill Monday morning but did not attach a statement saying why Schwarzenegger flip-flopped.

Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. According to the bill, he was the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in a major U.S. city. He was assassinated in 1978 by a disgruntled former supervisor.

"Harvey Milk Day" is California's fifth day of significance. The others recognize teachers, John Muir, the California Poppy and Vietnam Veterans.

In signing the bill about out-of-state gay marriages, Schwarzenegger said the action is consistent with a state Supreme Court ruling upholding the marriages of same-sex couples who tied the knot in California before voters approved Proposition 8.

Prop. 8 is a constitutional amendment passed in November that limits marriage to a man and a woman.

The bill signed by the governor late Sunday also says gay or lesbian couples who were married in other states after Prop. 8's passage have the same rights and benefits that California grants domestic partners.

The bill was sponsored by Democratic Sen. Mark Leno of San Francisco.

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