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JIC Post:By Lisa LeffAssociated PressGay rights activists plan to air a television commercial this week that compares Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's forthcoming veto of a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in California to the segregationist policies of former Alabama Gov. George Wallace.The 30-second ad is scheduled to begin airing on cable television stations in Los Angeles and Sacramento on Thursday, the day before the gay marriage bill Schwarzenegger has repeatedly vowed to veto reaches his desk. The governor has until Oct. 9 to sign, veto or let the bill become law without his signature."The point of the commercial is to continue to build pressure on the governor to sign the bill," said Geoffrey Kors, executive director of the gay rights lobbying group Equality California. "His legacy and his place in history is very important to him. We need to remind the governor he is at that place."The ad, which was funded by Equality California and produced by Los Angeles-based political strategists Chad Griffin and Mark Amour, starkly presents the choice facing Schwarzenegger in terms of the civil rights struggle of the 1960s.Besides Wallace, who sealed his political legacy by blocking a doorway at the University of Alabama when the school's first black student enrolled in 1963, it includes images of civil rights champions such as labor leader Cesar Chavez, and John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy, late uncles of Schwarzenegger's wife, Maria Shriver."Those who have made America great are the ones who have brought America together, who have stood for fairness and equality and against discrimination," a narrator intones. "Now, Gov. Schwarzenegger will make a decision for which he will forever be remembered."The ad goes on to challenge Schwarzenegger to "stand up for the basic rights of all Californians" or to "stand with the forces of discrimination," visually represented by a photograph of Wallace."Gov., the choice is yours. Be a hero," it ends.California already gives same-sex couples most of the rights and duties of marriage if they register with the state as domestic partners, but earlier this month, the state Legislature became the first lawmaking body in the nation to legalize gay marriage without a court order.Schwarzenegger, who has expressed an acceptance of same-sex marriage, has said he plans to veto the law because he thinks it's an issue that should be decided by voters or the courts.Spokeswoman Margita Thompson said Tuesday that Schwarzenegger also thinks the Legislature acted improperly by passing the gay marriage bill because in 2000 voters approved a law stating that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."Under state law, voter initiatives can only be rescinded at the ballot box, although legal analysts on both sides of the issue have argued over whether the bill just passed was written to take advantage of a loophole in the 2000 statute.Senior members of Schwarzenegger's staff are scheduled to meet with Equality California leaders and several gay and lesbian couples. "The governor is proud of the civil rights protections offered in California and does not believe same-sex couples should be discriminated against based on their relationship," Thompson said.Nevertheless, Equality California's last-minute advertising blitz won't dissuade Schwarzenegger from vetoing the marriage bill, according to Thompson."The decision is made," she said.
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