Social Conservatives Oppose Approval of Bills on Syringe Sales, Health Benefits for Same-Sex Domestic Partners
A group of social conservatives on Friday criticized Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) for signing two bills that would allow pharmacies to sell sterile syringes without a prescription and extend health insurance coverage to registered, same-sex domestic partners, the Sacramento Bee reports (Talev, Sacramento Bee, 9/25).
Last week, Schwarzenegger signed into law a bill (SB 1159) to create a five-year pilot program allowing pharmacies to sell as many as 10 syringes to adults without a prescription. Because of an amendment to the bill that Schwarzenegger had requested, cities and counties must approve pharmacies that seek to participate in the program, which will begin in January. The bill, sponsored by Sen. John Vasconcellos (D-San Jose), also requires pharmacies to provide information about drug treatment, disease testing and safe syringe disposal. The law, which will expire in 2010 unless the Legislature approves legislation to extend the program, also will decriminalize possession of needles without a prescription (California Healthline, 9/21).
The governor this month also signed into law a bill (AB 2208) requiring insurance companies that offer health, life, home owner and car insurance policies to cover same-sex domestic partners in the same way they cover spouses. Current state law requires insurers in California to offer domestic partners health benefits that are equivalent to benefits for a dependent (California Healthline, 9/14).
Randy Thomasson, executive director of the Campaign for California Families, said the new laws contribute to the "promotion of drug use" and the "undermining of marriage." He added that the governor's actions are "alarming conservatives and making them rethink their support" for him (Rau, Los Angeles Times, 9/25). Thomasson said that because polls show 67% of voters approve of Schwarzenegger's job performance, he has "apparently become unafraid to push his liberal agenda." Thomasson also urged conservative voters to protest some of the bills the governor has signed.
Karen England, program director of Capitol Resource Institute, said many conservative voters were "hopeful, in putting [Schwarzenegger] in, that he would deal with the economic [issues] and leave his social agenda out of it," especially for subjects on which his personal views "may be anti-family and liberal."
However, Sen. Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks), who also ran for governor during the recall last year, said, "The actions of the governor are entirely consistent with the positions he took during the campaign. He was very clear that on social issues, he agreed with the liberals" (Sacramento Bee, 9/25).