Today’s letter – everybody knows that it is time

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

A Field Poll of 1,052 registered California voters asked “Do you approve or disapprove of California allowing homosexuals to marry members of their own sex?” and for the first time since 1977 – when California’s law was changed to ban the unions – a majority answered that yes, they do support same-sex marriage.

As my Aunt wrote after she saw our story in the Chicago Tribune, “It’s about time.” The Wall Street Journal described it on their May 24 Opinion page, “Court Allows Gay Marriage: Tyranny or Its End?” And my Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa said “It’s time for us to bring every American out of the shadows and into the light, and this decision does that here in California.

Personally, I’m hoping to marry my fiancée of eleven years in a couple of weeks, and my friends, family and church are on the edge of their seats.

Please, Governor, keep supporting the freedom to marry in our great state. Keep fighting against the amendment. And most of all, please do whatever you can to make sure marriages start as soon as possible and continue after November.

Yours,

Today’s letter – bigot begone!

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Eddie Walker, the principal of Irmo High School in Columbia, S.C., announced he will resign from his post after the district approved a gay-straight alliance that supposedly conflicts with his religious beliefs. “Allowing the formation of this club on our campus conflicts with my professional beliefs and religious convictions,” Walker wrote in his resignation.

The club provides support for gay, lesbian and straight students from an often hostile school environment. Reports show that in 2007, 31 percent of gay students were threatened or injured and 18 percent were physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation. The Lexington-Richmond School District could not stop the club from forming because of federal law prohibiting a club from being banned because of religious bias.

“We truly believe it is unfortunate that this principal cannot see the immense harm that is caused when a social climate of rejection, condemnation and violence is justified with misguided religious belief,” said Brent Childers, executive director of Faith in America.

California law now bans prohibiting individuals from getting married because of religious bias. There will undoubtedly be some people who will resign from the County Clerks offices because they are unwilling to uphold the law. When that happens, we must simply remember what President Eisenhower said when he considered ending the traditional segregation of the blood supply into “Colored,” “White–Hebrew,” and “White-Christian” in 1950. The Red Cross told him that the South wouldn’t accept “mixed blood.” Eisenhower replied “then the South will not get any blood!” and issued an executive order ending the practice.

If Eddie Walker doesn’t want a gay-straight alliance at his school, then he is free to leave. “Those who deny freedoms to others deserve them not for themselves.”

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – divided a little less

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I am so happy that the State Supreme Court made an enlightened ruling guided by Republican judges that cannot be overturned except by changing our very Constitution to specifically Limit Marriage.

Our forefathers thought that religious and personal freedom was important enough to put into the Constitution, and taking it out doesn’t seem like something that would help anybody.

But the nation is horribly divided. One side says that their religion doesn’t allow for my gay marriage; the other says that the Constitution doesn’t allow one group of people to be plucked out and treated differently just because of what they think or believe.

A divided house is particularly precarious. Divided, we will fall. Abraham Lincoln said “I do not expect this house to fall, but I do expect it to cease to be divided.” That is what the Supreme Court did – they forced us to unite.

Aldous Huxley wrote in “Antic Hay” back in 1923 “Liberty? Why it doesn’t exist. There is no liberty in this world, just gilded cages.” The Supreme Court made my cage a lot prettier; the upcoming Amendment reminds me that it is merely a cage.

Thank you, Governor, for fighting against this amendment. It makes the cage of liberty a little bit bigger, and that is a good thing for us and for America.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – exiled for 25 years

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

On the grand scale of “people doing mean things to other people,” banning same-sex couples from marriage seems pretty insignificant. But with Friday’s death of Mildred Loving, I was reminded of how cruel people can be.

Mrs. Loving, who was black, had married a white man, Richard Loving, in 1958 in Washington, D.C. They returned to their home in Virginia, but that state, along with 15 others at the time, would not recognize their marriage. They were arrested and charged with violating Virginia’s law against interracial unions. Under a plea bargain, they received suspended sentences and agreed to leave the state and not return, except separately, for 25 years. They moved to D.C., sued Virginia and the Supreme Court eventually said, yeah, this is a pretty awful way to treat your neighbors and fellow Americans.

California is on the verge of passing an initiative to do a similar nasty thing to her citizens. The Limit on Marriage proposition will change California’s constitution to make it clear that certain couples are not welcome here, just because of who they love.

The proposed “limit on marriage” will cruelly exile same-sex couples from our economy and our society, and teach kids who happen to be gay that there is no alternative for them but celibacy or suicide. That’s not good for anybody.

You have publicly dismissed the Limit on Marriage proposition as a “waste of time” but please consider joining us to explain to all Californians why this is a bad proposition.

Yours,

Today’s letter – still slighted on government forms

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I still need your help again to fix the language on California EDD Form DE1-HW. I wrote to you in July 2007 complaining about the checkbox for HUS/WIFE. As members of a California Registered Domestic Partnership trying to hire a nanny, we were quite alienated by this clear state preference for man-on-woman marriages in contrast to the letter and intent of the law that you signed in 2000 authorizing our partnership (and our Constitutional bans on discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation.)

At the time you referred us to Mr. Robert Affleck, Deputy Director, Tax Branch, who referred us to Mr. Stan Adge, Tax Administrator, Taxpayer Advocate’s Office. Through ensuing conversations with Mr. Adge, he made it clear that this issue would be considered for the “next revision of the form.” Then he left the department, Ms. Leslie Weiss took over his job, and Ms. Michelle Mosley took over the mantle to fix this form.

According to verbal conversations with Ms. Mosley, “the form has been revised” and is “awaiting internal review” before being released to the Web site. But I have been unable to secure written confirmation if and when this will happen, and nobody in my community has had an opportunity to review the revised form to see if it complies with our need for equal treatment under the law.

Above all, this slow response and obscured process has made me feel as though this critical change to comply with an eight-year-old law is not a priority within EDD as it is within our community. I fear that the process has been derailed, the outcome will further alienate my family, and the result will please no one. This should be an emergency change to comply with state law, not a “suggestion” to be “considered with the next revision.”

Would you “work your magic” to get EDD to take this seriously? I don’t have anybody else to turn to to make sure that as long as lesbian and gay couples are being treated separately in California, they are at least treated equally.

Yours,

Today’s letter – the price of a soul

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Charles Chesnutt was born in 1858 to two “free persons of color.” This heterosexually-married couple offered to sell their son to slavery, but could only get $23 for him, and turned down the deal.

In the new movie “Baby Mama” the character played by Tina Fey’s (occasionally seedy) character is shocked by the price of surrogacy and quips “It costs more to have somebody born than to have someone killed.” Nevertheless, she proceeds with the surrogacy.

The Opponents of Equality spent about $2 per signature to gather enough support to qualify the Constitutional amendment to limit marriage, and apparently succeeded.

So we have, by successive bidding, effectively determined the price of ones soul. It is $2.

Yours,

Today’s letter – silly laws harm real people

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I just read about Synchronized Swimming sensation Kenyon Smith of the Santa Clara Aquamaids. A man in a women’s sport, his ability to advance is hampered not by his ability, but by his gender: college scholarships and Olympic Games both bar his participation.

I am a gay dad, and as such I have to be both father and mother to my two young kids. I empathize with Mr. Smith not because the rules limit our options, but because we both weather the attacks by people who assume that we are less capable or less talented simply because of our gender.

The people who say men can’t be nurses and women can’t be pilots keep telling me that I can’t be a mother. But I know and you know that nurturing and caring for your kids isn’t something that depends on your gender – it depends on your love.

There is a law that is holding me back from being an excellent parent, the special law that prevents my kids from having two parents who are married. You vetoed two attempts to fix this law, and now the Opponents of Equality are trying to get a Constitutional Amendment to reinforce the silly law.

Please help me educate the public that a man can be both a father and – when he has to – a mother too. Please support the freedom to marry for us and all Californians.

Yours,

Today’s letter – United Nations calls for equal pay for equal work

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 23 part (2) says:

(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.

As a gay dad who is on my same-sex domestic partner’s health insurance, I can tell you that there is a wee discrepancy between my treatment and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If we were married, my health insurance premiums would be deducted pre-tax. Because your administration will not let us marry, my health insurance premiums are considered to be a taxable benefit.

That means my fiancée is making less take-home pay than his counterparts simply because of his gender. That’s unfair not just here in the USA, but throughout the world.

There is no substitute for marriage; I wish you would help your fellow Republicans and the people of this state understand that, so that we can all have the same freedom, the freedom to marry.

Yours,

Today’s letter – Desmond Tutu supports the freedom to marry

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Nobel Prize Winner and former Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu has weighed in on the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage.

“I am deeply, deeply distressed that in the face of the most horrendous problems — we’ve got poverty, we’ve got conflict and war, we’ve got HIV/AIDS — and what do we concentrate on? We concentrate on what you are doing in bed,” Tutu told journalists at the World Social Forum in Nairobi.

“To penalize someone because of their sexual orientation is like what used to happen to us; to be penalized for something which we could do nothing (about) — our ethnicity, our race,” said Tutu. “I would find it quite unacceptable to condemn, persecute a minority that has already been persecuted.”

His words echo those of Spanish and Canadian leaders who brought their people to understand and embrace same-sex marriage as a fundamental component of their nation’s diversity.

I wish his words would inspire you too. Please stop being an obstacle to freedom, and instead lead the people to understand what you must already know: there is nothing wrong with gay marriage, there is everything wrong with denying it.

Yours,

Today’s letter – let Oscar wed too

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

At last night’s Academy Awards, the Best Short Documentary went to a film called “Freeheld” about the struggle that a New Jersey police Lieutenant faced as she tried to include her partner in her pension while she also battled cancer. Had her partner been a different gender, it would have been automatic; instead it was anything but.

I know that you intend for Domestic Partnership to provide same-sex couples with all of the time-tested social and legal features of marriage. The truth is that Domestic Partnership fails miserably at bringing even basic parity to California’s gay partnerships.

When Director Cynthia Wade tells three million people that “It was Lt. Laurel Hester’s dying wish that her fight against discrimination would make a difference for all the same-sex couples across the country,” she is telling three million people that leaders like you are the problem; that people like you, for all your best intentions, are merely obstacles to individual liberty until you support the freedom for all of us to decide for ourselves who we marry.

Yours,