Today’s letter – Nature or Nurture, it’s Love

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I’ve only lived in California for eight years, and I love the state, but I believe it could be even better if same-sex couples had the same freedom to marry as everybody else.

Those who disagree with me have often said that they don’t want to reward a behavior, begging the question: is homosexuality genetic or learned?

The answer to that question is that it doesn’t matter. We used to have barriers to marriage that were based on race, and there are still churches that will not marry across faiths. In both cases our Government has had the wisdom to step out of the way of love.

It is time for Government to stop blocking same-sex couples who want to commit to marriage. Whether it’s nature – like race – or nurture – like religion – it is the same love that everybody else has. It should be treated the same way.

Please sign AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, not out of pity, but out of respect for people’s individual choices about who they love. That is the kind of state California is, and with your assent, can continue to be.

Today’s letter – Hate is shrinking your base

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

As a voter of conscience, I don’t understand how anybody could pop a chad for a Republican. Last night’s slap at people of color piggybacked months of campaigns against Hispanic and Latino workers and years of attacks on lesbian and gay families.

Of these offenses, I don’t think any are as pronounced or as harmful to the GOP as their campaign against the freedom to marry. While African-American and LGBT voters are each roughly 7% of the voting population, 91% of LGBT voters cast ballots in the last presidential election. But those are direct votes.

When your party says – in your party platform – that my California Domestic Partner and I shouldn’t be allowed to get married because our genitals make us worse parents than Britney Spears and Kevin Federline, it alienates not only us, but also everybody who has ever met us. Currently, 75% of children are being raised in ‘non-nuclear’ families like ours – the kind you say are incapable of raising kids. 75% of families is a big base to permanently lose.

Just last week, former Republican congressman Jack Kemp told the Washington Post “What are we going to do — meet in a country club in the suburbs one day? If we’re going to be competitive with people of color, we’ve got to ask them for their vote.”

Think you’re above it all? Hardly. In 2004 you successfully lobbied the Attorney General to invalidate my marriage, in 2005 you vetoed AB 849 which would have let us wed, and now you’re on the verge of vetoing AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act.

All my California Registered Domestic Partner and I want to do is raise our kids with the simplicity and security of marriage. You and your party have worked your hardest to prevent that fairness and freedom. It is something that me, my family, my friends, my coworkers and my church are going to remember when they vote.

Let me once again ask you to give us some options at the polls: please sign AB 43 into law instead of vetoing your party further down the sewer.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – Domestic Partnerships are bad for Heterosexuals too

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I’ve written to you in the past about AB 43 which would allow same-sex couples to choose between marriage and Domestic Partnership, but today I want to write to you about a reciprocal bill – SB 11 – which would give all opposite-sex couples the option to choose Domestic Partnership instead of marriage.

Heterosexuals couples over 62 years old can already choose Domestic Partnership instead of marriage but SB 11 would remove the age restriction and let anybody who can get married get Domestic Partnered instead.

I actually agree with Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families (CCF) and an infamous Opponent of Equality, who said “Awarding marriage rights to people who shack up but refuse to get married is completely ridiculous. Why get married if you can get all the legal rights and benefits of marriage without being committed? This bad bill severely weakens the institution of marriage and will motivate unwed parents to remain uncommitted.”

SB 11 is a reciprocal bill to AB 43, and the reciprocal truth applies: why ban people who are “shacking up” from the commitment of marriage? Why would you motivate (or force) unwed parents to remain uncommitted? Just as SB 11 weakens marriage, AB 43 strengthens it by allowing committed couples to commit to each other.

My California Domestic Partner and I have been “shacked up” and “uncommitted” for way too long. I wish you would let us access the safety and security of marriage just like everybody else: please sign AB 43.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – Once again, Domestic Partnership is not the same as Marriage

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I’m just a normal guy trying to be the best father I can. Something has to really upset me to get me to write a letter. You accomplished that when you said that Domestic Partnership is the same as marriage.

You make me feel me frustrated because anybody with the sense God gave geese knows that they’re different. Domestic Partnership isn’t enough to satisfy the people who are forced into them, and it’s too much to satisfy the Opponents of Equality. In the meantime taxpayers are forking out to maintain a separate set of laws governing relationships and everybody is confused because there is no simple definition of a relationship.

I have to admit that when my California Domestic Partner and I got Domestic Partnered over a photocopier in the Glendale Galleria, it was not the happiest moment in my life. It was more like a trip to the dentist. But when we were eloped in San Francisco in 2004, my mother cried because she couldn’t make it in time to see her son get married. That’s the power a word has.

Obviously, you wouldn’t exclude people from marriage if you didn’t think that Domestic Partnerships were equal. Even you know that would be wrong. I’m here to tell you that they are not equal, not even separate-but-equal. They are demeaning and humiliating by their very design – the verbal and political equivalent of South Africa’s Townships and the pyramids of Abu Ghraib. When you say they are the same, you are wrong: not only technically incorrect but also ethically bankrupt.

You don’t have to sign AB 43 to support the freedom to marry, but as long as you pretend that Domestic Partnerships are the same as marriage, you are doing yourself and the people of California a grave disservice.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – The People cannot “vote to discriminate”

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

As a pragmatist, I don’t mind so much that you’re planning to veto AB 43 for political reasons; however I was sad to hear you say that discrimination is somehow acceptable because “the people voted for it.”

It is flat-out wrong to force people who would prefer to get married into Domestic Partnerships. You wouldn’t like to be treated that way, and neither do they.

The People thought this Golden principle was important enough to put in the Constitution, which predates and, I think we can agree, overrides Proposition 22. They voted away their right to separate and oppress minorities, and they put it to you to intervene and stop injustices.

So even if the people did indeed vote to discriminate, it is not OK for you to let them. The people elected you above all else to make sure that nothing interferes with the freedom of adults make choices for themselves. I wish you would do that, if not by signing AB 43, then by at least speaking out against this special mistreatment of your fellow citizens. That you would do neither, and blame it on the people, is reprehensible.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – You are doing neither

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

As a parent who wants to teach his kids about freedom and tolerance, it irritates me that you have so curtly promised to veto AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act.
It’s not the veto that saddens me; what offends me as an American is your refusal to acknowledge that it is fundamentally wrong to carve out and exclude a whole group of people from marriage based exclusively on who they love.

In signing AB 43, your hands might be tied, but in denouncing two sets of laws governing relationships in California, your mouth is still free. Won’t you use that freedom so I can teach my kids about freedom and tolerance by example rather than by exception?

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – I’m writing because California needs AB 43

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I’ve been writing to you every day since July 12 to ask you to sign AB 43 because I believe that if you heard the stories of Californians who are affected by this every day, you would find a way to sign it.

From giving hope to LGBT youth who just want to grow up and have a family, to gay parents raising kids, there is no substitute for marriage. I’ve told you the story of my Registered Domestic Partner and our newborn twins, and how badly we want the security and simplicity of marriage. But your heart is still on the side of the Opponents of Equality.

I don’t know what else I can do to get you to have the change of heart that you – and California – so desperately needs. So I will keep writing to you in the hope that some friend of yours finds these letters and makes you sit down to read them before it’s too late.

And as a friend, I have to tell you, once you have that change of heart, you will be brutally embarrassed that you ever stood in the way of freedom. For the sake of California, the Republican Party, same-sex couples or just my family, read about these issues and sign AB 43.

Your friend,

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,

Today’s letter – inspiring leadership

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I love hearing “change of heart” stories.

Yesterday, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, a Republican like you, endorsed a resolution supporting the freedom to marry, reversing his previous position favoring Domestic Partnerships.

He said “For three decades, I have worked to bring enlightenment, justice and equality to all parts of our community. As I reflected on the choices that I had before me last night I could just not bring myself to tell an entire group of people in our community they were less important, less worthy or less deserving of the rights and responsibilities of marriage than anyone else simply because of their sexual orientation.”

It is so nice to hear Republicans making statements like this instead of statements like Larry Craig’s. And yours.

I wish you would ask your Attorney General for a new opinion on the legality of signing AB 43. I wish you would ask your Chief of Staff if she feels that her relationship is protected equally under the law. I wish you would meet with just one family that have had kids without access to the security of marriage. I wish you call Mayor Sanders (619-236-6330) to hear from his own mouth why he changed his decision.

Then I wish you would consider what is right and fair, and have a change of heart. I’ll forgive you for reversing your promise to veto this; I won’t forgive you – or the GOP – for ignoring my family over what seems like party politics without even the courtesy of listening.

Sincerely,

Attachment: Mayor Sanders’ statement

“With me this afternoon is my wife, Rana.

“I am here this afternoon to announce that I will sign the resolution that the City Council passed yesterday directing the City Attorney to file a brief in support of gay marriage.

“My plan, that has been reported publicly, was to veto the resolution, so I feel like I owe all San Diegans right now an explanation for this change of heart. During the campaign two years ago, I announced that I did not support gay marriage and instead supported civil unions and domestic partnerships.

“I have personally wrestled with that position ever since. My opinions on this issue has evolved significantly, as I think the opinions of millions of Americans from all walks of life have. In order to be consistent with the position I took during the mayoral election, I intended to veto the Council resolution. As late as yesterday afternoon, that was my position.

“The arrival of the resolution, to sign or veto, in my office late last night forced me to reflect and search my soul for the right thing to do. I have decided to lead with my heart, to do what I think is right, and to take a stand on behalf of equality and social justice. The right thing for me to do is to sign this resolution.

“For three decades, I have worked to bring enlightenment, justice and equality to all parts of our community. As I reflected on the choices that I had before me last night, I just could not bring myself to tell an entire group of people in our community they were less important, less worthy or less deserving of the rights and responsibilities of marriage, than anyone else — simply because of their sexual orientation.

“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.

“Two years ago, I believed that civil unions were a fair alternative. Those beliefs, in my case, have since changed. The concept of a “separate but equal” institution is not something that I can support.

“I acknowledge that not all members of our community will agree or perhaps even understand my decision today. All I can offer them is that I am trying to do what I believe is right. I have close family members and friends who are members of the gay and lesbian community. Those folks include my daughter Lisa, as well as members of my personal staff. I want for them the same thing that we all want for our loved ones, for each of them to find a mate whom they love deeply and who loves them back, someone with whom they can grow old together and share life’s experiences. And I want their relationships to be protected equally under the law. In the end, I couldn’t look any of them in the face and tell them that their relationships — their very lives — were any less meaningful than the marriage that I share with my wife Rana. Thank you.”

Today’s letter – Everybody says you’ll veto, but that’s not your job

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Everybody is saying that you’ll veto AB 43, but that doesn’t make sense. Why would you veto a civil rights bill when your focus is on getting our budget in shape?

You ought to be rubber-stamping this bill, like you have with every other piece of minority-rights legislation, and pushing the responsibility to follow the will of the people back on the Legislature, where it belongs.

So I don’t believe the people who called you all sorts of names at last night’s rally. They were just bitter because they missed Power of Ten. I am confident that you will decide not to meddle with my family’s freedom and sign AB 43.

Yours,