California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed two gay rights bills.

Schwarzenegger signed the bills before midnight on Sunday. One bill sets aside Harvey Milk's May 22 birthday to honor the gay rights leader. The second recognizes gay and lesbian marriages performed outside the state prior to November 5, 2008.

“We are grateful to the governor for signing these critical and groundbreaking measures into law and rising above partisan politics to improve the lives of LGBT Californians,” Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California (EQCA), said in a statement.

State Senator Mark Leno introduced the Harvey Milk Day bill after the governor vetoed a similar bill last year. Schwarzenegger said Milk's accomplishments should be celebrated at the local level.

But Milk's profile has soared during the intervening months. President Obama honored Milk with a Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award; the California Museum, which was conceived by Schwarzenegger's wife, Maria Shriver, is about to induct him into its California Hall of Fame; and a movie about his life, Milk, drew national attention to the tumultuous early years of the gay rights movement.

“Californians will now learn about Harvey's amazing contributions to the advancement of civil rights for decades to come,” Kors said. “He is a role model to millions, and this legislation will help ensure his legacy lives on forever.”

Conservatives, led by the group, had urged Schwarzenegger to veto the bill a second time.

“So, under 'Harvey Milk Gay Day,' elementary and secondary schoolchildren could be taught adult-child homosexual 'sex' is OK, having multiple sexual relationships at the same time is OK, and telling a very public lie is OK if it 'gets you ahead,'” the group said on its website.

Schwarzenegger also signed a bill that recognizes gay marriages performed outside the state before the passage of Proposition 8. The bill was also introduced by openly gay state Senator Mark Leno.

Voters approved Proposition 8, the voter-initiated constitutional amendment that bans gay marriage in the Golden State, by a narrow margin on November 4. The California Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the amendment but allowed gay and lesbian marriages performed during the June-to-November “summer of love” to stand. The bill clarifies the ruling by including out-of-state gay marriages.

"When California offered marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2008, spouses who were already married in another state or country were prohibited from re-marrying in California," Senator Leno said. "This legislation ensures that same-sex couples are protected by existing California law that recognizes all marriages equally, regardless of where they are performed."

The social conservative group California Family Council (CFC), which supports the gay marriage ban, opposed Leno's gay marriage recognition bill, calling it “unconstitutional.”

“The people of California are sovereign, and the language of Proposition 8 is clear regarding the people's intent,” Ron Prentice, director of CFC, said in a statement. “However, California's current Legislature will continue to attempt to weaken the laws set forth by the people.”

Prentice also serves as the chairman of, the group behind the gay marriage ban.