Today’s letter – American Idol Adam Lambert and Kris Allen teaches us about Prop 8 and #saveEarl

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

American Idol’s finale, filmed right here in your home city of Los Angeles, can teach us a lot about politics. This season was a strange déjà-vu kind of upset. Every poll, person and bookie thought that Adam Lambert would win. But he was nosed out against all reason by the straight-acting, straight-looking Kris Allen. Even Mr. Allen admitted that Mr. Lambert deserved to win.

The same thing happened in season 2 when Clay Aiken lost to Ruben something-or-other – the winner was not the better candidate or presumed favorite. And it also happened in 2008 when Proposition 8 was narrowly passed against all predictions and logic.

People in groups do things that, as individuals, they know are stupid.

The difference between Prop 8 and American Idol is that the California Constitution was written to prevent impulsive illogical groups from ganging up against a religion or race. And that Constitution, until it is changed, trumps a popular vote.

I don’t expect the Supreme Court to meddle in American Idol results, but I do hope they fix Proposition 8. An impulsive popular vote is not a fair way to decide fundamental human rights.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – how “separate but equal” became the law of the land the first time

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

“Separate but Equal” was made the law of the land in 1896 when the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of Plessy v. Ferguson.

On June 7, 1892, Homer Plessy boarded a car of the East Louisiana Railroad that was designated by Louisiana for use by white patrons only. Although Plessy was one-eighth black and seven-eighths white, under Louisiana state law he was classified as an African-American, and thus required to sit in the “colored” car. When Plessy refused to leave the white car and move to the colored car, he was arrested and jailed.

The case wound its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a 7 to 1 decision the Court rejected the view that the law implied any inferiority of blacks, and contended that the law separated the two races as a matter of public policy, not inequity. Justice Brown declared, “We consider the underlying fallacy of the plaintiff’s argument to consist in the assumption that the enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority. If this be so, it is not by reason of anything found in the act, but solely because the colored race chooses to put that construction upon it.”

The sole dissenter, Justice John Marshall Harlan, wrote “…in the eye of the law, there is no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law.” It took until 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education decision to change this law.

Governor, I will be happy if the California Supreme Court upholds Proposition 8 only when it can be demonstrated that a civil union is the same thing as marriage. As a gay dad who has been (and is) both Domestic Partnered and Married, I am quite skeptical that that is ever possible as long as my government allows the distinction to remain. Until then it is apartheid all over again, and that does not turn out well for anybody.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – hospitals will block gay parents and their children as long as marriage is unstandardized

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Today’s New York Times tells the story of Lisa Pond, who collapsed on a cruise ship and was taken to the ER in Florida. Her Domestic Partner Janice Langbehn and their three adopted kids followed the ambulance. They were denied access to see Lisa for hours despite the fact that all the appropriate medical and legal forms were faxed to the hospital within 30 minutes. Lisa Pond died alone.

This family did everything that they were told to do: they had their lawyers provide partnership agreements, powers of attorney, wills and trusts. But they lacked the one thing that would have allowed Lisa Pound to see her three children and her life partner before she died: the dignity and documentation that only the time-tested legal structure of marriage can provide.

As a gay dad in California, I know how important family is in these kinds of situations. I do not sleep well at night knowing that this kind of family disaster will occur over and over again until every couple is able to access the same institution, full legal marriage.

My kids know I’m married, my parents know I’m married. My Church and congregation know that I’m married. In this kind of situation, the only thing that matters is if my Government considers that I’m married. Or can you assure me otherwise?

Sincerely,

Letter to GOP Chairman Michael Steele – prove it or apologize

Chairman Michael Steele
Republican National Committee
310 First Street
Washington, D. C. 20003

May 19, 2009

Dear Mr. Steele:

On May 16th you told the Georgia State Republican Convention that gay marriage costs small businesses more money than it makes them, because gay marriage laws force them to spend more on health care and other benefits for their gay-married employees than for their gay-unmarried employees.

As a small business owner and a gay dad, I know the facts, and I know that you are lying. I would like to respectfully ask you to prove what you are saying, or apologize for saying it.

You argued “Now all of a sudden I’ve got someone who wasn’t a spouse before, that I had no responsibility for, who is now getting claimed as a spouse that I now have financial responsibility for, So how do I pay for that? Who pays for that? You just cost me money.”

Any small business owner will tell you that we are exempted from state policies that require us to pay different benefits to our married employees than our unmarried employees. In exchange for not discriminating on the basis of marital status, we are protected from having to pay more for married employees than unmarried employees.

Moreover, gay marriage in my state means that I get more business from marriages being performed here, and I have a larger pool of qualified workers to choose from. Massachusetts discovered that five years of same-sex marriage has attracted highly-skilled workers and produced an economic boost of over $110 million – and unlike your assertion, there are real studies that support that.

If you really were concerned about the supposed cost of married employees, you would ban all benefits for married employees, yet you single out the gays to specially deprive them of these benefits.

I am disappointed that you would choose to break the ninth commandment in order to argue that Republicans take a bigger role in the most intimate individual decisions; that my Government should decide who should get married instead my Church; or that fiscal stability depends on whether or not I can get married. And as we saw in the firing of Arabic Linguist Dan Choi because of his sexual orientation, your arguments about the awful gays don’t help national security either.

As a gay dad, I’ve seen your kind of bankrupt arguments before. They are designed to marginalize and dehumanize your neighbors as you advance a moral position at the expense of individual freedom.

Abraham Lincoln pointed out that “those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.” Jesus said “treat your neighbor as you would like to be treated.” Would you like it if there was a law preventing you and the person that you love from getting married? If so, then I am happy to step aside, but if not, then you are obliged to grant me at least the same freedom that you enjoy.

I know from the Oreo incident that you are in the habit of speculating without proof. I know from your talk radio record your opinion about Civil Unions. I read about your call today for Republicans to stop apologizing. Well, here is your opportunity to answer that call and redeem yourself: prove how my marriage costs anybody anything.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – world’s most embarassing argument as GOP leader tries to ban all marriage

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

GOP Chairman Michael Steele told a crowd at the state convention in Atlanta that same-sex marriage is costly for small business.

He explained “Now all of a sudden I’ve got someone who wasn’t a spouse before, that I had no responsibility for, who is now getting claimed as a spouse that I now have financial responsibility for, So how do I pay for that? Who pays for that? You just cost me money.”

There are two small problems with this argument. The first is that, if Republicans were actually concerned about the costs of having employees who are married, then they should not stop at gays, they should ban marriage altogether. Then employers wouldn’t have to take financial responsibility for anybody’s spouse. I would like to hear Mr. Steele argue that; anything less is simply hypocritical.

Second, Mr. Steele’s comment ignores the small businesses that make money from gay weddings. After 5 years of extending marriage to gay couples, study after study shows Massachusetts has attracted highly-skilled workers and experienced an economic boost of over $110 million from the very practice Mr. Steele would ban.

It is not same-sex marriage that is costly for small business, it is the ban on gay marriage that is costly for small business.

Please, Governor, please explain to Californians that it is in our best interest for every Californian to be able to fully participate in the economy and society, and please explain to your party leadership the folly of letting somebody as blatantly ignorant as Mr. Steele steer your ship.

Sincerely,
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Today’s letter – People of Faith stand firm in favor of same-sex marriage

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

People of Faith are headed your way, and they’re armed with the clear message that God supports same-sex marriage.

The new partnership between the Human Rights Campaign and California Faith for Equality addresses the Opponents of Equality who use the Bible as a weapon. Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese explains that the new partnership will “ensure that California voters know that many people of faith support same-sex marriage.”

I hope that the Republican party does more than just get the message: I hope that they actually fix their party platform so all Californians can enjoy not only protection of their religious freedom to marry according to their church’s beliefs, but also full participation in the economy and society through legal marriage.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – you are my sunshine, Governor

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I wrote a little song for the California Supreme Court to hear when it rules on my marriage. With apologies to former Louisiana State Governor Jimmie Davis, Charles Mitchell and Johnny Cash:

He is my husband, my only husband,
He makes me happy when skies are gray.
You’ll never know how much I love him.
Please don’t take my husband away.

You can call us domestic partners,
You can call us other names,
But no matter what you do, dears,
I love him just the same.

I’ll always love him and make him happy,
And he often says the same.
It’s through marriage and only marriage,
he’s bound to love and to stay.

For my parents and my children,
There is only one word that will do:
It is marriage and only marriage.
I hope my Government does come through.

He is my husband, my only husband,
He makes me happy when skies are gray.
You’ll never know how much I love him.
Please don’t take my husband away.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – Donald Trumps

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Can you do something about this woman who is using the name of California to spread lies about gay people?

You may recall that Miss California Carrie Prejean stated her beliefs about gay marriage during the “brains” part of the Miss USA competition. Then she spoke as Miss USA but without the Pageant’s permission in front of crowds opposed to gay marriage, while missing Miss California events she was contractually obligated to attend, constantly complaining about being muzzled and attacked for her beliefs.

Today The Donald rendered his decision on the matter. Who got punished? Co-executive director of the Miss California USA pageant Shanna Moakler, that’s who. Yes, Prejean’s boss got fired for speaking out her beliefs about Miss Prejean’s behavior.

As a gay dad I understand how the Opponents of Equality bully fair-minded Californians into silence by attacking their families. I get hate mail at least once a week. My religious belief in marriage is illegal in California. My Governor belongs to a political party with a platform that calls for my extinction. Why? Because of the hypocritical bullying of people like Miss Prejean, who in the name of California and God pass judgment on me and my family. Because of people like Donald Trump who choose to muzzle the voice of reason rather than the precocious bully. Because of people like you, who tolerate the Opponents of Equality.

I wish you would remind Miss Prejean what she was actually taught: that no good citizen and Christian would deny freedoms to others.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – Pat Robertson’s slippery soapbox undermines freedom

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Televangelist Pat Robertson weighed in on the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Law that Maine’s Governor John Baldacci signed earlier this week with the tired “Slippery Slope” argument:

We haven’t taken this to its ultimate conclusion. You got polygamy out there. How can we rule that polygamy is illegal when you say that homosexual marriage is legal? What is it about polygamy that’s different? Well, polygamy was outlawed because it was considered immoral according to biblical standards. But if we take biblical standards away in homosexuality, what about the other? And what about bestiality and ultimately what about child molestation and pedophilia? How can we criminalize these things and at the same time have constitutional amendments allowing same-sex marriage among homosexuals. You mark my words, this is just the beginning in a long downward slide in relation to all the things that we consider to be abhorrent.

Saying marriage is between two people is not a slippery slope. Two people who are worthy of marriage ought to be able to marry each other, without interference from the government.

The real “slippery slope” is certainly not polygamy, but rather it is the next thing that the Opponents of Equality will take away. Will it be divorce? How about the ability to teach science in our schools? Or the freedom to choose our own religion?

As a parent I am much more terrified of what a Robertsonocracy would do to this country: replace what the Bible actually says (“treat others as you would like to be treated”) with whatever Robertson says it says. I mean, Governor, do you want Pat Robertson to have more power than you?

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – jury of my peers

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

This is Jury Appreciation Week, which I discovered when I was called in for jury duty.

The jurors on my panel were asked to state the occupation of their spouse or significant other. Most people answered “my husband,” “my wife,” “my fiancée” or “I’m single.”

Thanks to the California Supreme Court I was able to answer the question simply, using the term “my husband.” Everybody knew the nature of my relationship and understood the commitment that I had made.

Because of your 2007 veto of AB 43 (The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act) and the ensuing Proposition 8, other Californians who were not able to get married during 2007 are denied the opportunity to call their most significant significant other their “husband” or “wife.”

I wish we lived in a state where two adults who are willing and able to marry are not blocked by their government from marrying each other.

Sincerely,