SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger praised a federal judge's decision Wednesday to overturn California's gay marriage ban as an important step toward equality and freedom for all people.
The Republican governor said the ruling by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker "affirms the full legal protections and safeguards I believe everyone deserves."
"At the same time, it provides an opportunity for all Californians to consider our history of leading the way to the future, and our growing reputation of treating all people and their relationships with equal respect and dignity," Schwarzenegger said in a statement.
California voters amended the state constitution to ban gay marriage in 2008, five months after the state Supreme Court legalized it.
Schwarzenegger was one of the original defendants, but he refused to support Proposition 8 in court.
The governor previously vetoed two gay marriage bills, in 2005 and 2007, both by then-Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco. Schwarzenegger said both times that while he supported and would "vigorously defend" domestic partnerships, the constitutionality of same-sex marriage was a matter to be decided by the courts and, if necessary, California voters.
"If the ban of same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, this bill is not necessary," he wrote in his 2005 veto message. "If the ban is constitutional, this bill is ineffective."
On Wednesday, Schwarzenegger acknowledged there are strong feelings on both sides of the gay marriage issue and that Walker's ruling would not change that.
Supporters of Proposition 8 previously said they would appeal, sending the case first to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, then potentially the U.S. Supreme Court.