If I was a national leader, I would love to have the choice that faces California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger after the state legislature passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.
Tough choices make great leaders. It's one of the things that I think will forever undermine Bill Clinton's historic legacy: he never had to make any really tough choices. No war. No recession or depression. The toughest domestic-policy choices he had to make - to put gays in the military or sign DOMA - he made political choices that had nothing to do with his ideals.
Now Schwarzenegger is going to get to decide whether he will sign or veto the historic, first-of-its-kind, bill. While I'm a fan of him, I'm betting that he will veto it. It's tough making historic choices. If he vetos the bill, he's just doing what most Americans would do. If he signs it, he will be a party of history, while royally pissing off his base. And, given his popularity in California, he needs his base.
Or so he thinks. Whether they like it or not, people almost always respond positively to a strong leader who makes strong decisions. Sure, lots of conservatives in California will be pissed. But, the majority of Californians will recognize Schwarzenegger's historic decision and regard him highly for it.
Right now, the governor is saying that he thinks it's up to the courts (which is funny, since most Republicans are saying it's up to them). This is a ridiculous argument. If a bill is in front of you, you either sign it or veto it based on its merits, not whether you want the courts to decide it or not. If he cops this plea, he will be bitch-slapped in the polls and on this blog.
The choice for him now is to stand up for the rights of the minority or be swung by the majority. It's a choice that dates back to the crafting of the U.S. Consititution. I know the choice I'd make - history calls.