As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

We Don't Have Gay Marriage Because Of A Dysfunctional Political System

Today, the Vermont legislature overrode a gubernatorial veto and voted to allow same-sex couples to marry. They become the first state to legalize gay marriage through the legislative process rather than the courts. Of course, California passed a gay marriage bill twice, in 2005 and 2007, only to see the Governor veto the legislation both times. And then... nothing.

Now, the bill never passed by a margin approaching a 2/3 vote in either chamber, so you might question the efficacy of an override vote. However, that only makes sense if you aren't aware that the California legislature NEVER overrides vetoes. This actually came up last year, when the Governor vetoed the initial FY2009 budget and the legislature threatened to override. Instead they ceded to the Governor's demands. Indeed, California has never overridden a budget veto in the history of the legislature, and the legislature pretty much never overrides vetoes of any other kind, even if the measures pass both houses with overwhelming margins. The last override in California? THIRTY YEARS AGO.

Part of this is due to the unnecessary forced bottlenecks in the legislative process, where practically everything passes right at the end of a legislative session, and the Governor vetoes after the session ends, which means that the legislature is out of session at the time they could override a veto. But another part concerns an insidious professional courtesy mixed with threats, where the Governor in recent years has implicitly vowed to veto all kinds of bills if he's ever overridden on one.

The overall point is that California's government does not operate like a functioning political body. The veto override, a major tool for a legislature to impose their will on a Governor, doesn't exist. The majority vote, when a Governor agrees with the thrust of the legislation, with respect to the budget and taxes, doesn't exist. And so ordinary functions of political bodies are closed off to California, by self-imposed means. This highlights once again why we have an ungovernable political structure that needs to be radically changed.

Labels: , , , , ,