Archive for ‘religious vs. civil marriage’

October 12th, 2007

Today’s letter – here is what you could say

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

As you approach the deadline for acting on legislation from this fiscal year, I thought I might help out by writing a message for you to use in relation to AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act.

I was careful to address your objections in the past as well as the ultimate issue of using mere laws – even voter initiatives – to override the Constitution.

My fellow Californians.

I said that I would veto AB 43 because I believe the courts and the people should decide the fate of marriage in this state. I also said that lesbian and gay couples are entitled to full protection under the law and should not be discriminated against based upon their relationships. Up to now, I had seen these as being in contradiction to each other, but I have come to realize that it is not possible to treat these couples fairly while blocking them from marriage.

The people have made it clear through their elected representatives and the State Constitution that they do not tolerate discrimination in any form. Statutes passed by the legislature and even by voter initiatives are not able to create discrimination without changing the Constitution.

I also said that I would veto AB 43 because I lacked the authority to reverse an initiative approved by the people of California. I am not seeking that authority because I do not intend to reverse an initiative statute.

The initiative statute passed by the voters as Proposition 22 in 2000 enacted California Family Code Section 308.5 relating to marriages performed in other jurisdictions. It did not change the Constitution.

AB 43 changes Sections 300 and 302 of the California Family Code to say that a marriage is a contractual relationship between two persons. This is the original language of the Family Code prior to a legislative statute passed in 1977. It makes no changes to the implementation or enforcement of section 308.5.

AB 43 also provides for the free exercise of religion by institutions who believe in performing marriages of same-sex couples. Article I, section 4 of the California Constitution guarantees free exercise and enjoyment of religion without discrimination or preference, and as I explained earlier, Proposition 22 did not amend the Constitution.

Structures such as Domestic Partnerships and Civil Unions, which I have supported in the past, are undermining marriage by providing a way for couples to cohabitate without making the commitment of marriage. Proposition 22 was passed to defend marriage as an institution, not to defend it against some kind of invader. We can not protect marriage by excluding people who want to support it, or by creating imaginary enemies to keep out. These tactics divide us and weaken our ability to face the real problem. The best way to follow the intent of Proposition 22 is to provide one set of laws governing relationships in this state and providing universal access to them.

The courts and the people will have their say. The issue regarding the constitutionality of section 308.5 and its prohibition against recognizing same-sex marriages performed elsewhere is currently before the Court of Appeal in San Francisco and will likely be decided by the Supreme Court. Likewise, if the people want to exclude certain families from the security of marriage, they will need to pass a Constitutional amendment to do that. In the meantime, it is wrong to deny any citizen the freedom to marry, and just as wrong for me to block this bill.

I intend to uphold the Constitution of this state and the will of the people as expressed through their elected representatives by signing this bill into law.

The tide is turning, Governor. Do you want to be on the side supporting love, or the side supporting hate? Please sign AB 43 and support the freedom to marry.

Sincerely,

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August 15th, 2007

Today’s letter – Lessons from Canada

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

As you consider your position on AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, you might like to hear from some people I consider to be real leaders, in a situation very similar to yours.

Starting in 2003, Canada’s most senior leaders steadily argued for “marriage” before adopting a Federal law in 2005. Their comments were critical for taking the people from being sharply divided on the issue to becoming overwhelming supporters for total marriage equality.

If people want to do something and it doesn’t hurt other people, doesn’t reduce other people’s rights, we should let them do it. Why not?

– Canadian Defense Minister John McCallum, August 13, 2003

My responsibility as Prime Minister, my duty to Canada and to Canadians, is to defend the Charter in its entirety. Not to pick and choose the rights that our laws shall protect and those that are to be ignored. Not to decree those who shall be equal and those who shall not.

– Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, February 1, 2005

I’m a Catholic and I’m praying. But I am the prime minister of Canada …I’m acting as a person responsible for the nation. The problem of my religion – I deal with it in other circumstances.

– Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, August 13 2003

Many Canadians will want to accept both of these principles: protect the traditional definition of marriage and protect the rights of minorities…. We cannot have it both ways. We must make a choice between traditional marriage and the protection of minority rights.

– Canadian Minister of National Revenue John McCallum, March 21, 2005

[S]ome have counseled the government to extend to Gays and Lesbians the right to civil union. This would give same-sex couples many of the rights of a wedded couple, but their relationships would not legally be considered marriage. In other words, they would be equal, but not quite as equal as the rest of Canadians. …[S]eparate but equal is not equal.

– Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, February 1, 2005

Less than equal is less than adequate. To create another institution [such as civil unions] just contributes to the fact that we would tell those members of the gay and lesbian community that they are not entirely part of our society. Why wouldn’t they be part of marriage?

– Canadian Justice Minister Martin Cauchon, August 13, 2003

If a prime minister and a national government are willing to take away the rights of one group, what is to say they will stop at that? How can we as a nation of minorities ever hope, ever believe, ever trust that [the constitution] will be there to protect us tomorrow?

– Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, February 1, 2005

We won’t be appealing the recent decision on the definition of marriage. Rather, we’ll be proposing legislation that will protect the right of churches and religious organizations to sanctify marriage as they define it. At the same time, we will ensure that our legislation includes and legally recognizes the union of same-sex couples.”

– Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, June 16, 2003

We embrace freedom and equality in theory, Mr. Speaker. We must also embrace them in fact.

– Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, February 1, 2005

I hope you take these to heart and lead the people the right way. Please start by advocating AB 43 and showing, in fact, that you believe in equality.

Sincerely,

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August 14th, 2007

Today’s letter – Going to Disneyland

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Today I’m going to Disneyland! Disneyland opened up their Fairy Tale Wedding packages on April 5 to people who are unable to secure a valid marriage license – like the citizens of California currently in Domestic Partnership relationships.

A Disney spokesman said “This is consistent with our policy of creating a welcoming, respectful and inclusive environment for all of our guests.”

I wish California would follow Disney’s lead, and like Massachusetts, Canada, Spain and South Africa, welcome our same-sex couples with the dignity of marriage. Please sign AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, when it reaches your desk this Fall.

California Dreamin’,

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August 11th, 2007

Today’s letter – Religious Freedom

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I’m writing today to ask you to consider Californian’s religious freedom when AB 43, the 2007 “Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act” reaches your desk.

Congregations like St. Monica’s Catholic Church – where you go – should be able to exclude same-sex couples from the marriages they solemnize.

However, congregations like The Westwood Hills Congregational Church – right up the road – should also be able to exercise their beliefs and perform same-sex marriages.

California same-sex couples already have all the legal rights of marriage – why are you standing in the way of their religious right to marriage?

Yours,

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