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CA Governor Approves Harvey Milk Day, More Rights for Same-Sex Couples

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rsz_1harveymilk_cloCalifornia Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill on Sunday that will designate May 22 as ‘Harvey Milk Day’ in that state.

The Associated Press reported on Monday that the special day of recognition “will not be a formal state holiday,” but instead, is meant to inspire educators “to conduct exercises recalling Milk’s life and contributions to the state.”

Milk was elected to San Francisco’s Board of City Supervisors in 1977 and played a prominent role in the early LGBT rights movement. San Francisco Mayor George Mascone and Milk were assassinated in November 1978 by former supervisor, Dan White.

Gov. Schwarzenegger also signed a bill on Sunday that will “ensure that couples who wed before the passage of Proposition 8 in November retain their status as ‘married’,” according to the San Francisco Gate. Moreover, same-sex couples who married outside of California after November 4, 2008 will be granted “all rights of marriage save the name” in the Golden state. As the San Francisco Gate clarified in an article on Tuesday, “that means married couples who move to California will not have to register as domestic partners to have their relationship recognized by the state.”

But as blogger Pam Spaulding of PamsHouseBlend.com noted, Sunday was not a complete win for the LGBT community. The governor also vetoed two pieces of legislation considered key items to LGBT Californians. The first bill, AB 1185, would have eased the process by which transgender Californians change their gender on birth certificates. And the second, AB 382 , would have established protections for LGBT inmates. Gov. Schwarzenegger cited legal precedents as rendering those bills unnecessary.

Equality California, an organization devoted to achieving equality and securing legal protections for LGBT Californians, celebrated Sunday’s landmark legislation but expressed disappointment at the vetoes:

"We are grateful to the Governor for signing these critical and groundbreaking measures into law and rising above partisan politics to improve the lives of LGBT Californians," said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors.

[Of the vetoed bills] "While we believe it is important to have these protections in statute rather than just as policy or court precedent and are disappointed by the vetoes, the Governor's reaffirmation of these policies will hopefully help ensure they are enforced.”

GLAAD will continue to monitor the media’s coverage of California legislation meant to protect LGBT people. Updates can be found on GLAADblog.org