California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger pledged his support to the gay and lesbian community at a function held by gay Republicans, but avoided the topic of his decision to veto gay marriage last year.

Schwarzenegger was guest of honour at the fundraising dinner in Hollywood last week that raised money for the Log Cabin Republicans.

I love being here with my friends, the governor said in a brief speech, his first to a gay rights group since stepping into office in 2003. I love the Log Cabin Republicans. I love this organisation. I love all of you.

While he acknowledged he and the group wouldn’t always agree, he pledged to work with them to achieve equality and inclusion in California.

Whether you are gay or straight, everyone needs someone to love. While we may not agree on every issue, we are united in the values of love, understanding and tolerance, he said, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Tonight I want you to know that I am proud to be on the same team with you. I can’t promise you that I will always be of the same mind, but I can promise you that I will always have an open mind.

Schwarzenegger made several jokes with the crowd, including one about his 2003 election. I got 80 percent of the votes from you [gay Republicans] for that [election]. The other 20 percent never forgave me for my movie Hercules In New York, he said.

His wife Maria Shriver, a Democrat who rarely attends her husband’s Republican engagements, was also in attendance.

She goes to very few of these events, Schwarzenegger said, The Advocate reported. But when I told her it was the Log Cabin Republicans, she said, -˜I love those Republicans -“ I’m coming.’

In 2005 Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill approving gay marriage which had been passed by California’s legislature, saying it was up to the state’s Supreme Court to decide. As a result, many gay rights groups have said they will not support him in the November 2006 elections.

He has, however, signed a number of other bills to further gay rights in areas such as domestic partnership, hate crime legislation and other anti-discrimination laws.

Log Cabin Republican national president, Patrick Guerriero, told The Advocate, It’s likely this man is going to be re-elected and have a heavy impact on the future of equality for LGBT citizens.

In light of that, LGBT Californians must continue their dialogue with the governor.

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