Today’s letter – Stories from the Trenches

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Here is a little story from a May 2006 meeting of the Executive Committee of the Republican Party of Los Angeles County that shows a sampling of what’s going on “in the trenches” of the GOP.

Author Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson was the speaker for the evening. He explained that more black Americans would enter into marriages if there were a constitutional amendment redefining it as between only one man and one woman.

A member of the audience stood up to ask why, if marriage creates stability in society and is good for children, that a whole group of Americans should be denied the opportunity to marry. The Reverend responded by explaining that Christian beliefs are very important to black Americans and capped it off with a quote from Leviticus.

Another audience member then stood up and asked if the Reverend supported slavery, since, after all, it is in the Bible, too.

The Chairman of the meeting interrupted the discourse to call for tolerance from party members, a call that was honored by the objectors but not by Reverend Peterson, who continued to fabricate reasons for excluding lesbian and gay Americans from the party and from society.

You wonder why Republicans can’t get elected in this state – well look no further than your local chapter meetings, where tolerance of hatred alienates any voter of conscience.

You could change this, Governor, by telling your party that whatever they think of gay marriage, “freedom” means that all Californians should have the freedom to choose who they marry.

Yours,

Today’s letter – not all Republicans hate gay people

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I started out writing this letter intending to point out that there were a lot of Republicans who would let me get married to my partner of ten years.

We all know about Vice President Dick Cheney saying ”freedom means freedom for everyone,” John McCain stating that “The constitutional amendment [banning gay marriage] strikes me as antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans,” and San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders who refused “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.”

But then the trail ran dry. With all of the Congressmen and Governors who trust their careers to lesbian and gay staffers; all who attend official ceremonies where gay couples are treated as married people; all who talk about compassion, freedom and the value of the family – with all those people, I would think there would be more than three that support the freedom to marry over the oppression of a minority’s basic human rights.

I guess the kind of people that truly believe “freedom means freedom for everyone” either don’t become Republicans, or conveniently forget about their personal convictions when they step onto the campaign trail.

I wish that you would remember why you became a Republican – “free enterprise, getting the government off your back, lowering the taxes and strengthening the military” – and like Mr. Cheney, Mr. McCain and Mr. Sanders, let me get married.

Yours,

Today’s letter – Catholic Schools Teach Hate

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I just read a wonderful article in the Los Angeles Times titled Many Catholic schools fight to survive where the author, Carla Rivera, attributes the 40% decline in enrollment at Catholic schools to families leaving the urban core. As a recent dad, I think the real reason why enrollment is plummeting is that parents don’t want to send their kids to places that teach intolerance.

Anybody who has driven to Santa Monica lately knows that the area is not suffering from a lack of people. Over the last seven years, more than half of the population has not left the West Side. I do know one thing that happened seven years ago: the Catholic Church started attacking lesbian and gay families, starting with Proposition 22 and an attempted Constitutional Amendment, then following up with the 2004 “Defense of Marriage” acts now spanning 27 states.

The Boy Scouts have suffered a 35% decline in enrollment since 1977, and they too blamed it on urban shifts and the rise of alternative programs. But the Girl Scouts have the same external pressures and their enrollment actually rose 3% in the same time. The difference? The Boy Scouts fought for and won the right to exclude gay kids and leaders, while the Girl Scouts welcome everybody equally.

Polls conducted by the Barna Group show that in 2004, 52% of Christians aged 16-29 described Christianity as “hypocritical — saying one thing doing another,” and 80% of Christians polled picked “anti-homosexual” as a negative adjective describing Christianity.

As a parent, I think it would be irresponsible to send my kids to a place that taught that some families are better than others, or that their place in heaven depends on who they punish here on earth. A couple of years ago I might have thought differently, but looking in their eyes now I realize that hate is taught, and it is worth every penny to send them someplace where they will learn God’s love instead of the Catholic Church’s hate.

I wish their hate didn’t extend to my government. It’s too late for you to sign AB 43, but it is time to say that it is wrong to block the Freedom to Marry.

Yours,

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 – 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.”