Archive for ‘opponents of equality’

April 7th, 2009

Today’s letter – those who oppose equality are unfit for office

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Today is an historic day. It marks the first time that a state has eliminated a ban on same-sex marriage without being compelled to do so by the courts.

But in keeping with other traditions, it was a Republican governor who vetoed the legislation along the way.

I would like an explanation of what you were honestly thinking when you chose to oppose equality, something that I can tell my kids to explain why well-intentioned people seem to do cruel things. Maybe you could ask Governor Douglas for some help. Why would an American deny freedom to another; why would a Republican meddle in individual personal relationships; why would a Christian go against the teachings of his Church, and treat others as he would not like to be treated himself?

It’s the little things like this that remind us which party stands for getting government out of people’s lives, lower taxes and family values, and which party is – still – opposed to equality.

Sincerely,

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June 4th, 2008

Today’s letter – a modern dividing line


Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

The Mason-Dixon line was used to separate slave states from free states. We have managed to divide our country once again, this time with the battle lines that limit marriage.

Ten states – not even our neighbors – are asking California’s Supreme Court not to lift the special ban on same-sex marriages.

The Opponents of Equality are arguing that they might have to recognize our marriages in their own states, in case the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and their own states’ Constitutional Amendments are somehow struck down.

While these states may or may not have the right to exclude their fellow Americans from fully participating in their economy and society, that is up to them. Trying to punish Californians for their bigoted intolerance is reprehensible.

What is particularly sad is that they don’t even want to block California marriages altogether – they just want them to go away until November, when a Constitutional Amendment (that has not even qualified for the ballot) might stop them.

Please, Governor, join your Attorney General Jerry Brown in opposing these unfortunate attempts to second guess the California Supreme Court and undermine basic human rights in your state.

Sincerely,

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June 3rd, 2008

Today’s letter – what is up with Oklahoma?

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

What is up with Oklahoma? As individual politicians incite what can only be described as xenophobia, guardians of equality remain silent.

Seventeen House Republicans refused to accept a goodwill copy of the Quran from the Ethnic American Advisory Council, based on the (incorrect) assumption that “Most Oklahomans do not endorse the idea of killing innocent women and children in the name of ideology.” The political fallout? None.

One law, HB1804, makes it illegal to provide education or health care to undocumented immigrants, including infants; requires police to check the immigration status of anyone “suspected” of being in this country illegally; makes it a felony to give an illegal immigrant a ride; forbids the issuance of birth certificates to a child if one parent was an illegal alien; and confiscates the property of anyone caught violating HB1804. There was not even a rally against this one – supporters are cowering in legitimate fear.

Then to ice the cake, Republican Rep. Sally Kern focused on gays and lesbians, calling them more of a threat “than terrorism or Islam,” and calling them – us – a “cancer.”

Kern did not apologize – she instead got a standing ovation shortly after her comments were made public. Kern explained “I told the people when I was running for this office that I was a Christian candidate and that I believed we were in a cultural war for the very existence of our Judeo-Christian values.” Values that killed Matt Shepherd. Nice values.

I am so happy to work and live in California, where all of our citizens are welcomed to fully participate in our economy and society. Thank you, Governor, for making and keeping it that way.

Sincerely,

Today’s stamp: “Oklahoma” plus a three-cent “USA” makeup stamp.

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May 9th, 2008

Today’s letter – two great men

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Two prominent black gay men are in the news.

John Amaechi is a former NBA player who came out of the closet in February 2007 and became a media sensation — as well as the target for ugly homophobic rants and jokes.

“You’ve got the black people stereotype,” says Amaechi, “that black people are strong, can jump high, are really quick and very masculine. Then because you’ve got this one stereotype of black people, that automatically means they can’t be gay, because you’ve got a different stereotype about what gay people are, both of which are absurd.”

Miles away, in Falls Church, Virginia, voters elected the state’s first black and openly gay person to take public office. City Councilman Lawrence Webb said “I hope my election opens the door for others to get involved in public service. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or black or both. What matters is your dedication to building a better community and your willingness to work hard at it.”

What makes our country great is our Constitution that allows great people to rise to the level of their ability with a blind eye towards their gender, race, age and sexual orientation.

Unless, of course, they want to make the commitment of marriage. In that case, you step in and stop that playing field from being level, based on absurd stereotypes and arguments from those opposed to building a better community. And that’s just not nice.

Yours,

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March 28th, 2008

Today’s letter – people who are unhappy with fairness

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I was astonished to learn that even the opponents of equality believe “domestic partnership” and marriage are in fact the same things.

Kentucky State Senator Vernie McGaha introduced legislation that would bar state agencies and schools from providing health insurance for the domestic partners of their employees, even when fully paid for by the beneficiaries. Sen. McGaha said that he was concerned about the erosion of the sanctity of marriage by the provision of domestic-partner benefits.

That the bill was defeated in committee was no surprise. State Senator Ernesto Scorsone explained “I think most Kentuckians believe if you are able to pay for the insurance, you ought to be able to buy it.”

What shocked me was that six of the fifteen committee members voted for the legislation, apparently considering simple domestic partnership benefits to be an offensive intrusion by the gays into the world of marriage. These people will not be happy until I am exterminated.

Governor, it is time to choose between encouraging marriage and encouraging intolerance. The voters of this state are on the verge of changing our Constitution to block people like me from forming partnerships. Whether this comes out nine to six or six to nine depends on your support. I wish you would tell the people that you support the freedom to marry.

Yours,

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February 13th, 2008

Today’s letter – agents of intolerance

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

As a gay dad, I believe you are almost on the verge of having the change of heart that we need so I can finally get married. Your endorsement of John McCain was a really big step for two reasons.

First, Senator McCain shares my opinion of Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, Pat Robertson and their ilk, saying “neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance.”

As you know, Sen. McCain’s “Agents of Intolerance” are the same as my “Opponents of Equality” – they’re the people who say, without having met me or knowing anything about me, that I’m not worthy of marriage just because of who I want to marry. So that’s a plus.

Second, Senator McCain believes that the Federal government should not make the most intimate decision of who can marry who. “The constitutional amendment [banning gay marriage] strikes me as antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans, [because] it usurps from the states a fundamental authority they have always possessed and imposes a federal remedy for a problem that most states do not believe confronts them.”

It is a short stretch for you, Governor, to realize that the State of California is no better than the Federal government at deciding who can marry who. To paraphrase Senator McCain, it usurps from individuals a fundamental authority they have always possessed and imposes it instead on a state remedy for a problem that most people do not believe confronts them.

So, Governor, I’m hoping that you get a chance to talk to Senator McCain about same-sex marriage, and I hope enough of his centrist rhetoric rubs off on you that you will finally realize that California would be a better place if we all had the freedom to marry.

Yours,

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February 12th, 2008

Today’s letter – What would Lincoln do?

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Today is, of course, Abraham Lincoln’s 199th birthday and the start of a two-year bicentennial celebration. I understand that presidents are a sore subject for you since you are specially banned from being President simply because of where you were born – but maybe that will give you some sympathy for what I am about to propose.

There is a great deal of debate about Lincoln’s life: where he was actually born, whether he was actually against slavery, whether he was gay or straight – but there is little debate about what he would think of today’s fashion of removing from people the freedom to marry.

There is no question that same-sex couples operate on a different level in this country with regards to marriage. The country is divided, and as Mr. Lincoln pointed out, this is not a stable situation. A house divided, falls, but “I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided.” (1858)

The modern Republican sooths his soul by pointing out that all the same rights of marriage can be metered out by civil unions and some good lawyers, and anyways, gay people can get married as long as it is to a person of the opposite sex.

Of course, being able to marry the person of your choice is a lot different than being able to marry. Lincoln said “I do not understand that because I do not want a Negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife.” (1863)

And having a “middle ground” of domestic partnership as a substitute for marriage is also awkward. Mr. Lincoln famously asked an opponent in a debate “If we call its tail a leg, then how many legs does a dog have?” The reply was “Five.” Mr. Lincoln, delighted, said, “No, it is four. Just because you call a tail a leg doesn’t make it so.” Clearly, a marriage by any other name is not the same.

So how are we to unite this house? We must choose to either permanently deny same-sex couples of the freedom to marry, or treat all men (and presumably women) equally and fairly under the law.

“We have, as all will agree, a free Government, where every man has a right to be equal with every other man. In this great struggle, this form of Government and every form of human right is endangered if our enemies succeed.” (1864)

Who are those ‘enemies?’ To answer that question, we need only examine how Mr. Lincoln elevated the Golden Rule, such as in this letter to Henry Pierce: “This is a world of compensations; and he who would be no slave, must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.” (1859)

Would you, Governor, dare to tell a couple they cannot marry because one person is not born in the same country as another? Or because they espouse different political parties? Your own marriage to Maria Shriver (an Amercian, Kennedy & Democrat) is based on those contrivances – and yet in telling some people they must access the time-tested social and legal structure of marriage through some second-rate institution, you reverse the divine rule to do unto others as you would like done to you.

Let me conclude the same way Mr. Lincoln concluded his Address at Cooper Union in 1860: with an admonishment to reject apartheid because it yields no path to freedom.

“Let us be diverted by none of those sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so industriously plied and belabored – contrivances such as groping for some middle ground between the right and the wrong, vain as the search for a man who should be neither a living man nor a dead man – such as a policy of “don’t care” on a question about which all true men do care – such as Union appeals beseeching true Union men to yield to Disunionists, reversing the divine rule, and calling, not the sinners, but the righteous to repentance – such as invocations to Washington, imploring men to unsay what Washington said, and undo what Washington did.”

It is not an accident that Log Cabin Republicans choose the founder of the GOP as their icon. They are not aligning themselves with Mr. Lincoln’s sexuality, they are aligning themselves with the concept that after freedom itself, the greatest blessing of civic life is the opportunity to marry the person you love.

Governor, if Abraham Lincoln were alive today, what do you think he would tell you to do about same-sex marriage?

“Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.”

Please, do your duty, protect the Constitution and give us all the same freedom – the freedom to marry.

Yours,

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January 17th, 2008

Today’s letter – The people are turning against the Opponents of Equality

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Thank you for signing SB 777 last year, an act that reorganized and reiterated basic Civil Rights for Students. You will be happy to know that the drive to repeal this legislation officially collapsed yesterday.

The advocates for a referendum this June claim they were only able to gather 350,000 unvalidated signatures and will no longer pursue the matter. They needed 430,000 valid signatures.

It is nice to see one more example of the people of California turning away from those who advocate prejudice and intolerance against their fellow citizens.

It is too late for you to sign AB 43, the bill that would have let me get married, but it’s not too late for you to turn away from the Opponents of Equality and support the Freedom to Marry.

Yours,

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