Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday announced he would reject the bill to allow gay marriage in California and that the contentious issue should be settled by a vote of the people or the courts.
Schwarzenegger's press secretary said the governor respects the legal protections already afforded gays in California as well as overwhelming support for Proposition 22 that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
He also believes the courts are the "correct venue" for deciding on the state's ban on same-sex marriages.
The bill to be vetoed by Schwarzenegger would have defined marriage as a civil contract between "two persons."
"We cannot have a system where the people vote and the Legislature derails that vote," the governor's press secretary, Margita Thompson, said in a statement. "Out of respect for the will of the people, the governor will veto (the bill)."
Schwarzenegger "believes gay couples are entitled to full protection under the law and should not be discriminated against based upon their relationship," Thompson's statement said. "He is proud that California provides the most rigorous protections in the nation for domestic partners."
The bill, passed late on Tuesday in California's Democrat-led Assembly, marked the first time a state legislature in the United States has endorsed gay marriage.