Today’s letter – don’t protect marriage, improve it

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Marriage sure has gone through a lot of changes in the past centuries.

A girl’s father used to decide who his daughter would marry. Then there were bans on interfaith and interracial marriages. Nowadays, almost everybody can choose who they marry – except for me. A special ban on same-sex couples takes away my right to choose who I marry and gives it to the government.

The only person who should be making the choice of who I marry is me.

Governor, it is time to stop “protecting” marriage, and start improving it.

Yours,

Today’s letter – New Jersey knows separate is never equal

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

New Jersey has had “civil unions” for a year now. A state commission was formed to find out how that was working out, and they released their report today.

The 12-member commission found that the law “creates a second-class status” for the 2,400 same-sex couples who have been unioned, and that the law is not fulfilling its mandate of providing same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexuals.

The commission wrote:

“The commission also heard testimony that the term ‘marriage,’ were it applied to the relationships of same-sex couples, would make a significant difference in providing equality to same-sex couples in New Jersey. Civil union status is not clear to the general public, which creates a second-class status.”

In addition, because civil unions are not open to heterosexuals, “The New Jersey Civil Union law automatically outs someone or anyone who gets civil unioned,” which is a breach of privacy.

Lynn Fontaine Newsome, president of the New Jersey State Bar Association, testified before the commission that “the legal work performed for these clients is double that which is performed for married couples to ensure that they are afforded equal rights,” raising the costs for poor and minority couples who most need the time-tested protection of marriage.

Governor, you know that the domestic apartheid that you have set up and advocated hurts the people of your state. New Jersey’s Governor Jon Corzine has said he would sign a marriage bill – what about you? I wish you would take action to make sure that all of California’s couples have the same freedom – the freedom to marry.

Yours,

Today’s letter – not the government, and certainly not the Governor

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

When I was at the Valentine’s Day demonstration last Thursday, holding two adorable kids, I got a lot of questions. One was “what does marriage mean to you?”

I told them what I will tell you: “Marriage is a time-tested legal and social structure uniting two families. The only person who should be making the choice of who to marry is me. Not the government, and certainly not the Governor.”

Governor, giving the people the freedom to choose who they marry would make marriages stronger and last longer, don’t you think? It is time to stop protecting marriage, and start improving it.

Yours,

Today’s letter – stamp out discrimination

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Since the United States Post Office announced a rate increase on first class postage, I took a quick look through the stamps that I’ve been using to write to you.

There’s a Gerald R. Ford stamp symbolizing the days where Republican meant getting out of people’s lives, a Black Heritage stamp with Charles W. Chesnutt symbolizing both the struggle for civil rights against pigheaded politicians and the fact that we don’t have a Lesbian and Gay stamp yet, and vintage mahogany Speedboats from the 1920’s that remind me that there are people who have been “shacking up” together almost that long who still cannot get married.

There’s “Alpine Tundra” in the Nature of America series that reminds me us that this land belongs to all of us (not just the heterosexuals), “Pollination” with the message that you don’t need to be married to get pregnant and have children, and a “Mendez vs. Westminster 1947 – Towards Equality in our Schools” stamp reminding us that the system works and change is possible.

“Jury Duty” celebrates the fact that gay people perform their civic duties just the same as the straights (even though they can’t get married to the person that they love like the straights) while Super Heroes reminds me of your days as The Terminator when you used to stand up for freedom from tyranny and Oppression.

And the LOVE stamp reminds me that all that we need to get the freedom to marry is your change of heart. Yes, we need you to tell the people that should be deciding who to marry instead of who can marry. That’s the only defense against a bad Supreme Court decision and a really bad Constitutional amendment proposition to permanently ban my marriage.

While I’m looking forward to the new 42-cent stamps, I hope they will bring a change of heart along with them.

Yours,

Today’s letter – Big Brother should not block love

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

The latest installment of the CBS reality show Big Brother has a new twist. Eight couples are bonded together in the Big Brother house as “soul mates” based on personality matching performed before the show.

In addition to the standard “cute” couples, there are also an interracial couple, an intergenerational couple, an interfaith couple, and a same-sex couple.

All of these pairs are competing on equal footing, with one exception. If the “showmance” blossoms, all of these couples can get married except the same-sex couple.

Why would you take it upon yourself, Governor, to stand in the way of what anybody with the brains God gave geese knows? Love comes in many flavors, and it should be up to the people in the relationship – not Big Brother – to decide if they want to marry.

I wish you would support the freedom for all committed couples to make the commitment of marriage.

Yours,

Today’s letter – be my Valentine

[I put this on a NASCAR Valentine’s Day card with car number 9 and a picture of Kasey Kahne. Or it might be Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards or Jamie McMurray, I’m not sure, they didn’t put names on the cards.]

TO: Governor Schwarzenegger

You would be my Valentine if you let me wed!!!

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,

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,

Today’s letter – longer than the writers’ strike with more ill effects

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

The Hollywood writers strike showed us what damage is caused when a few key people are removed from an important industry.

While the studios can just go back to work, the special ban on gay marriage continues to prevent committed couples from contributing to the economy and society.

It is time to get California back to full strength by supporting strong families and individual choice. Please tell the Supreme Court that California immediately needs all of its citizens to have access to the time-tested legal structure that only marriage provides.

Yours,

Today’s letter – get us off this four-year see-saw

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

My fiancée and I are trapped in the California legal system. In early 2004, we got married; in late 2004, our marriage was annulled. In 2005 a trial judge said we could get married; in 2006 an appeals court said we couldn’t. Now finally in 2008 the State Supreme Court will hear and judge on whether our Constitution lets a mere eight-year-old voter initiative carve out a whole group of people and specially remove their freedom to marry.

I don’t understand why it takes four years to figure out if a voter initiative beats out the State Constitution. It seems to me this should be pretty clear. In the meantime, the Opponents of Equality have been trying again and again to pass a Constitutional Amendment to permanently exclude me and my fiancée from our economy and society.

Governor, help us get us off this see-saw! As a defendant in this case, please tell the California Supreme Court that all Californians need the freedom to marry, and they need it NOW. My husband and I are tired of waiting.

Yours,