Archive for ‘procedure’

June 7th, 2008

Today’s letter – doing his duty for eighteen years

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I would like to point out a saint in your midst.

For 18 years, Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder and State Clerks Association President Stephen Weir has been in charge of the county’s office that hands out marriage licenses, even though he has been unable to get a license himself because the love of his life happens to be a man.

On June 17th, Weir and his fiancée John Hemm will approach the counter Weir runs to get a license for themselves; shortly after that, they will go to exchange vows in the conference room that Weir himself had converted into a wedding chapel – but could never use.

Weir says “I’ve waited all of this time to be able to walk into my own office and stand in line and pay $85 to buy a license and have a ceremony. It’s a big deal.”

Governor, is there an award that we can give Stephen Weir for patiently doing his duty all these years while his “customers” would, every day, receive something he could not? What do you give somebody who did his job, even though knew that limiting love based on people’s gender or religion was wrong?

When you hear stories of clerk-recorders from other counties who won’t issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite the Supreme Court ruling (and basic human decency,) you realize how, truly, Stephen Weir is a citizen among citizens and a saint among saints.

Sincerely,

Today’s stamp: “Jury Duty”

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June 1st, 2008

Today’s letter – happy pride!

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Happy Gay Pride Month! June was declared Gay Pride Month by President Clinton in 2000, partially in commemoration of the Stonewall Riots, and partially in reconciliation for the Defense of Marriage Act that he signed during his first term.

“With each passing year the American people become more receptive to diversity and more open to those who are different from themselves. Our Nation is at last realizing that gays and lesbians must no longer be “strangers among friends,” as the civil rights pioneer David Mixner once noted. Rather, we must finally recognize these Americans for what they are: our colleagues and neighbors, daughters and sons, sisters and brothers, friends and partners.”

I look forward to a day when we don’t need to have a special month, but all Americans can just simply live as “colleagues and neighbors, daughters and sons, sisters and brothers, friends and partners.” Please, Governor, continue your work to bring the Freedom to Marry to California as soon as possible, and to defeat the Constitutional Amendment to Limit Marriage so we can keep this victory over intolerance on our own soil.

Sincerely,

Today’s stamp: “Towards Diversity in our Schools” celebrating the 1947 decision making Americans more open to those who are different from themselves.

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May 27th, 2008

Today’s letter – freedom, authorized

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I read today that the California Office of Vital Records told the head of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials, Stephen Weir, that clerks would be authorized to hand out marriage licenses to all couples – not just heterosexual ones – as soon as Saturday, June 14! That works well for our plans.

The following Tuesday, June 17, would be the eleven year anniversary of when my fiancée Frank and I first met. We have already looked each other in the eyes and promised each other, our families and God that we would share our lives together forever, but this recent ruling allows us to have that event witnessed, blessed and recorded by our government.

We would like to get married on June 17, and if you are available, would like to invite you to perform the ceremony. You have been a pivotal individual in this quest for marriage, having chilled the San Francisco weddings and vetoed our two previous legislative attempts. We would want to have the event here in the Los Angeles area so our older parents and infant children won’t have to travel, but we could also come to Sacramento.

Getting married will make us and our entire extended family happy. Having you perform the ceremony would be icing on the cake. Please let us know your intentions as soon as possible since we don’t have much time to make plans.

Sincerely,

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September 21st, 2007

Today’s letter – You can spin it however you like

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I’ve been following your political assent since you replaced Governor Davis, and I have no doubt that “Arnold Strong” can do whatever he wants to do regarding AB 43 and same-sex marriage in this state.

Here is what you told the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce on September 17:

“Whenever the people vote on something — in this case, Proposition 22 — then it ought to be the people that should have a choice to vote on it again and to change their mind. But it would be wrong for the people to vote for something, and for me to then overturn it. I don’t do that, I will not do it. And so they can send that bill down as many times as they want, I won’t do it.”

Now that’s a strong statement. So is this:

“A decision to veto this resolution would have been inconsistent with the values I have embraced over the past 30 years. I do believe that times have changed. And with changing time, and new life experiences, come different opinions. I think that’s natural, and certainly it is true in my case.”

That was San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders explaining his decision to support the freedom to marry this past Wednesday.

Everybody knows that you can spin this however you like. Whether you are overturning the supposed intent of mostly Republican voters seven years ago, or overturning the will of the people who elected the legislature knowing they would send you this bill, you are going to overturn the will of some people.

I wish you would support the people today instead of the Opponents of Equality and sign AB 43. That might take a change of heart, but it won’t take a change of your principle and promise to uphold the will of the people.

Sincerely,

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September 7th, 2007

Today’s letter – tell the truth about Proposition 22

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

As somebody who has read your various statements about gay marriage in California over the years, I believe that you would sign AB 43 (the bill ending the special exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage) if it was the will of the people. The problem is that you continue to use Proposition 22 as not only a gauge of will, but also as a legal excuse for vetoing this legislation.

We can disagree about the intent of voters when they passed Proposition 22, but the intent of the law was to block foreign marriages from becoming recognized in California.

It would seem from recent polling data and the behavior of the legislature that the people are not opposed to extending the freedom to marry to their fellow citizens.

It would make me really sad if you obstructed the will of the people based on a bad guess of their intentions. The people do not oppose freedom – please support them by signing AB 43.

Hopefully,

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August 19th, 2007

Today’s letter – LA is losing your mail

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger [via Sacramento Office] –

I have written several letters asking you to sign AB 43, the “Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act.” I don’t expect a reply to every letter I write, but the pattern I see is very disturbing.

When I send them to your Sacramento office, I receive a reply within a week.

When I send them to your Los Angeles office, I never receive any acknowledgment.

The Los Angeles office told me verbally that their operating procedure is to read and forward all letters to the appropriate individual in Sacramento so they can be treated expediently, but apparently something is broken. I haven’t received a single response since July 12 through the Spring Street route.

I would hope that these letters are being lost because of something procedural rather than something having to do with the content of the letters themselves. Either way, some reassurance that you are listening to your constituents would be welcome.

Sincerely,

Attachments: three “lost letters” from July 20, 25 & 26

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August 18th, 2007

Evolving Talking Points

  • Governor Schwarzenegger does not hate gay people. He knows many as an actor, from Merv Griffin to Rosie O’Donnell. He has signed almost every lesbian and gay rights law he has received. He signed our very effective Domestic Partnership legislation. His Chief of Staff is a Lesbian.
  • It is unknown why he stops short on legal marriage. Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed a nearly identical bill in 2005. The reasons he has given range from weak to dismissable (lacks authority to override Proposition 22, wants the people to decide).
  • The legislature changed the California Family Code section 300 from “two persons” to “man and woman” in 1977. The change was signed by Governor Jerry Brown. Schwarzenegger says he lacks the authority to sign AB 43, but it is the same authority as Jerry Brown had in 1977. The legislature changes their laws all the time. Governor Schwarzenegger might be sued, but better him than me.
  • The people passed Proposition 22 in 2000 adding a section to the part of the California Family Code that deals with marriages performed in other places. Section 308 says California has to honor marriages performed elsewhere, and the new section, 308.5, limits that to heterosexual marriages performed elsewhere. It is a state rights issue. AB 43 does not change 308 or 308.5. The courts will need to sort that out but in the meantime we will have gay marriage and the will of the legislature will be on record.
  • We need AB 43 for several strategic reasons:
    • if the Supreme court decides in October that Californians deserve gay marriage, we will still need AB 43 to provide it.
    • a pro-marriage law will drive the courts towards legal marriage.
    • a pro-marriage law will drive the people towards legal marriage.
    • an anti-gay ballot initiative becomes one that removes freedoms rather than one that just reinforces existing law (unnecessary, benign).
  • Churches that do not believe in same-sex marriage (or any other kind of marriage) will not have to perform any ceremony. More importantly, churches that DO believe in same-sex marriage will finally be able to perform them (United Church of Christ, Metropolitan Community Church.)
  • Same-sex marriages and registered partnerships (Domestic Partnerships, civil unions) are not the same. Although registered partnerships give same-sex couples most of the benefits and protections of civil marriage, the couples are not legally married. Registered partnerships create two sets of laws that are expensive to administer, and they deprive California citizens of their dignity. Nobody grows up dreaming of getting ‘domestic partnered.’
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July 12th, 2007

What is AB 43?

AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, is a bill that would bring us one step closer to ending the special exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage in California and providing freedom to churches who wish to perform the ceremonies.

The bill restores Sections 300 and 302 of the California Family Code to their pre-1977 language without touching Section 308.5 blocking foreign marriages that was installed by Proposition 22.

AB 43 is supported by more than 250 civil rights and professional groups, 46 of our 80 Assembly members and 22 of our 37 Senators.

The bill is on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk. He must sign or veto the bill before October 14, or it will pass into law on its own. If the bill becomes law, there will probably be an injunction pending the outcome of the marriage cases before the State Supreme Court.

He has vetoed a similar bill, AB 849, and has promised to veto this one too. His arguments have not changed: (1) the people voted for discrimination through Proposition 22 in 2000 and he cannot overturn the will of the people (2) the judiciary and the people need to work this out without the legislature (3) the bill is ineffective because of the pending cases in the Supreme Court.

I don’t believe these arguments hold up. Proposition 22 was about states rights and did nothing to change gay marriage in California. It was seven years ago and does not reflect the will of the voters that set up our Constitution and twice elected the legislature that passed AB 43. Finally, the bill may be ineffective at changing the law, however a signature will send a powerfully effective message about fairness.

The Governor has to know that his excuses are pretty lame. I guess he thinks a veto will win favor with his most active donors and the current crop of gay-haters in Washington, and by distracting people with Proposition 22 and “the will of the people” he can avoid doing what is right for the people in favor of what is right for himself.

It is embarrassing to have California come just a penstroke away from providing all their couples with the same rights. Overcoming prejudice was in California’s history, but now that mantle belongs to Massachusetts, Canada and Spain. It is horrible to have a Republican advocate higher taxes and additional government interference with individual lives. It is demeaning to have one person messing around with my family’s legal status to suit his political agenda.

I hope that I can change Governor Schwarzenegger’s mind, but even if I can only touch the minds and hearts of people who read my letters, I will have accomplished my goal.

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