Today’s letter – Fear and Ignorance

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

The religious right is mounting a huge campaign to meddle with my family and block gay marriage for a very long time. Anybody with the brains God gave geese knows this is driven by fear and ignorance rather than an honest reading of The Bible. Anybody who has had an opportunity to know me and my family can tell you that there’s nothing wrong with gay marriage.

The problem is that a popular vote right now will turn out very poorly for California’s families. It will tell generations of kids that if they are gay, there is no hope. It will tell adults that it’s OK to harm homosexuals. And it makes life more difficult for my kids, and the kids of other gay and lesbian parents.

The Christian leadership has been tragically vocal on this issue, while our leadership has been silent. Letting the people decide based on the lies they have heard will harm many people for a very long time. I wish you would stand up for equality and tell the people what you think they should do about marriage. Please sign AB 43, for me, my kids, and all California.

Yours,

Today’s letter – Freedom

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,

Every day I thank God that I have the freedom to fall in love and start a family.

If we didn’t have Domestic Partnership in California, I wouldn’t be living here. Thank you for making sure that all Californians have at least those freedoms.

I wish you would sign AB 43, though, and then we wouldn’t need to beg and grovel for every little right that we’re tossed.

Legal marriage would make a huge difference to my family and hurt nobody. So please sign AB 43.

Truly yours,

Today’s letter – EDD Form DE1-HW

In order to (legally) employ a household worker (a nanny) we have to complete a California form DE1-HW Registration Form for Employers of Household Workers.

Section “E” of the form asks for the “Type of Organization” and offers the options of [_] INDIVIDUAL [_] HUS/WIFE [_] CORPORATION [_] OTHER ________.

When I called them (916) 654-7041 they said that I should check [_] OTHER and enter Domestic Partnership and they would enter it as HUS/WIFE anyway. I said no, I want a new form.

They said the form was last updated in October 2004 and the new forms are up-to-date. But the regular form DE 1 revision 72 from August 2006 has “Hus/Wife Co-ownership” which is even more offensive.

So here is my letter to the Governor for today:

RE: EDD Form DE1-HW

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,

I am attaching a communication that I have started with the California Employment Development Department asking for accommodation of my same-sex domestic partnership on the Registration Form for Employers of Household Workers form DE1-HW (attached). This is just one example of the scores of forms that offensively violate the constitutional ban on discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation. I need your help to make sure that the form gets fixed.

The form contains options for INDIVIDUAL, HUS/WIFE, CORPORATION and OTHER. Our household is not an OTHER; I do not feel comfortable revealing my sexual orientation on this form; and if I mark INDIVDUAL or HUS/WIFE, I cannot honestly sign the form.

I wish you would sign AB 43 into law so I can get married and we don’t have to play these games with forms. Until we can get married, I would like to ask you to ask the EDD to change these forms to conform with the Constitution and my need to have my government respect my basic dignity.

Thank you for your help,

I enclosed my note to the EDD:

RE: Form DE1-HW

I have attached a form DE1-HW obtained from the Internet. Section (E) provides options for several organization types including HUS/WIFE.

As an individual in a domestic partnership who is legally prevented from being “HUS/WIFE,” this form does not accommodate me as intended by constitutional prohibitions on discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation.

I don’t want to be a jerk about this, but marking [x] OTHER isn’t acceptable. The purpose of this form is not to reveal my sexual orientation but to describe the nature of the entity that is registering, which should be (by hard-won State law) indistinguishable to that of a legally married couple.

I would like to have a new form with the offensive language removed and replaced by your choice of either “SPOUSES” or “MARRIED/DOMESTIC PARTNERS.”

My intent isn’t to make more work for you, but just to make this form less offensive to me and my community. I would be happy to help you adjust it appropriately; please let me know how you would like to proceed.

Thank you,

Today’s letter – Wedding Day

Today’s letter was inspired by John Henning and Mike Roth’s documentary film Saving Marriage. In one scene, one of the heterosexual characters affected by marriage explains “my wedding was the most wonderful day of my life. It is the most wonderful day of most couples’ lives. Why would you ever take that away from people?”

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,

Do you remember the day you got married?

Why would you deny that to somebody else?

I wish you would sign AB 43 so the people will know that “California will not discriminate.”

I have attached a photo from our wedding day. Please consider what a veto on AB43 will do to my family.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – Delayed Access

I’m starting a practice of sending a note to the Governor every day. Today’s message was this, delivered with a picture of the kids.

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,

AB 43 would allow same-sex couples to legally marry in California. You have said that you want the people and the judiciary to decide about this issue, and that you will veto this legislation. Such a veto will delay my family’s access to basic equal rights. Please sign AB 43.

Thank you,

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.

If you can take away marriage…

The subtitle of this blog is “If you can take away marriage, you can take away anything.”

What that means is that I don’t think that the Opponents of Equality are really targeting the Gays. I believe that they are a coalition of groups that have their eyes set at terminating loftier prizes: abortion, affirmative action, immigrants, Arabs, Jews, public schools, evolution – the list goes on.

Remember that these are the same people who argued for, and subsequently lost, the ability to prevent different races from sharing the same schools and to keep women from voting. I think that they are actually amazed that they are finally winning on an issue, and just a bit embarrassed that it is not from an ethical or moral high ground, but just really good PR.

The fact is that gay marriage is just a pawn in this game. Randy Thomason doesn’t give a toss about the gays, but the power and money he gets by terrorizing them will let him graduate to other sinister criminalizations. I don’t get the feeling that Governor Schwartzenegger is morally opposed to this bill – but the fact that he has the power to veto it gives him the ability to get other things.

Think of all the good stuff we could do with the money and energy that has been spent trying to make a group of people into second-class citizens. If we can take away marriage discrimination, we can take away all discrimination. Who would oppose that?

Contacting the Governor

Call Him!

Sacramento: 916-445-2841
Los Angeles: 213-897-0322

Write Him!

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814

300 South Spring Street, Suite 16701
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Fax Him!
Sacramento Fax: 916-445-4633
Los Angeles Fax: 213-897-0319

Meet with Him!
Send a request for a meeting to any of his addresses.

Getting the bill to the Governor

The bill just passed the Senate Judiciary committee 3-1. “Arlin” from Senator Scott’s office explained to me that the next step is the Fiscal committee who meets weekly through August 31. The Senate must approve and reconcile the legislation by September 14 for this fiscal year, then the Governor has 30 days (until October 14 in this case) to exercise his power to veto.

If the Governor signs it or does nothing the bill will become law January 1, 2008.