By Peter J. Smith

SACRAMENTO, California, October 7, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger earned muted praise from pro-family advocates last week after he vetoed a measure that one pro-family group described as a “Trojan horse” that could have helped homosexuals overturn Prop. 8 in 2012.

SB 906, authored by the openly homosexual Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and supported by many homosexual groups, would have changed the Family Code to refer to “civil marriage” instead of just “marriage.” The bill also stated that no authorized religious official would be forced to officiate a marriage against the tenets of “his, her, or its [sic] faith,” and that religious entities would not face loss of tax-exempt status for refusing to do so.

However, the Civil Marriage Religious Freedom Act still would not have protected individuals who have conscience or religious objections to homosexuality, who are not ministers but who are involved in the wedding industry, such as caterers, photographers, and renters.

Supporters of SB 906 had hoped that it would have helped blunt the criticism that gay “marriage” infringes upon freedom of religion (a key factor in the passage of Prop. 8 in 2008), and thereby increase the odds of successfully overturning the pro-marriage amendment on a 2012 ballot measure.

Catholics for the Common Good (CFC) called Leno’s bill a “Trojan Horse measure.” By creating a “new class of marriage into California law,” the bill could provide the legislature and the courts a backdoor opportunity to legalize same-sex “marriage,” said the group.

While maintaining his support for the goal of same-sex “marriage,” Schwarzenegger vetoed the law on the basis that the legislation was redundant and created the impression of different kinds of marriage, i.e. “civil and religious marriage.”

“Unfortunately, I cannot sign this bill due to the extraneous amendments that will change the term 'marriage' to 'civil marriage' within the California Family Code,” said Schwarzenegger in his veto message.

All marriages are civil marriages under California law, as is the case in most jurisdictions. The state authorizes religious representatives to officiate marriages on the state’s behalf in the context of that religion’s wedding ceremonies.

While Schwarzenegger said that in his view SB 906 would actually harm “the goal of marriage equality” in California, homosexual groups were less than pleased.

In a statement released by Equality California (EQCA), Rev. Rick Schlosser, Executive Director of California Council of Churches IMPACT, accused Schwarzenegger of playing “partisan politics” and insisted that “the reason given for the veto is not even remotely credible."

Sen. Leno also said in the EQCA release that he disagreed with Schwarzenegger’s assertion that there was no legal difference between civil and religious marriage.

“The state cannot, and never will be, in the business of religious marriages,” Leno said. “The Governor’s belief that this bill would have created a separate classification of marriage is misguided.”

Pro-family groups that fought against the bill had restrained words of praise for Schwarzenegger, who has declined to defend constitutional challenges to Prop. 8 in federal court.

“While we’re glad the Governor vetoed SB 906, which would have deceptively aided homosexual 'marriage' legalization on a future ballot, that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the great damage he’s inflicted upon marriage, the California Constitution, and the voters by refusing to appeal the judicial-activist ruling that struck down Prop. 8,” said Randy Thomasson, President of SaveCalifornia.com, another California pro-family group opposed to the measure.

EQCA leaders indicated that they may bring up the measure again in 2011, however they are watching how the political landscape changes in November. Democrat Attorney General Jerry Brown is running for governor against former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, a Republican.

Brown supports same-sex “marriage,” while Whitman has pledged that she would defend Prop. 8 and keep marriage defined in law as the union of a man and a woman.

Real Clear Politics shows Brown overall ahead by a 6.2 percentage spread. A Rasmussen poll, performed after a Univision debate and revelations that Whitman employed an illegal Latina immigrant as a housekeeper, found Brown pulling ahead of his GOP opponent 49 percent to 44 percent.

Just two weeks ago, Rasmussen showed Brown and Whitman running neck-and-neck, 47 percent to 46 percent respectively.