Today’s letter – civil rights not so hot ourselves

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

The Olympic Torch visits San Francisco today on its way to China. Many people are upset at China’s civil rights history. But what about California’s?

Sure, we were the first to remove the ban on interracial marriages, and one of the first to integrate schools. But, because of you and your administration, we still do not allow some people – like me – to marry the person we love.

I wish you would support our own civil rights and give every Californian the same freedom, the freedom to marry.

Yours,

Today’s letter – Leviticus or Sermon on the Mount?

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Somebody asked me the other day who the gays want for President. Hillary Clinton has been the long-time favorite because of her support of New Yorkers at pride events and legislation to help stop AIDS.

I think the gays should look seriously at a different contender. Senator Obama has elegantly differentiated himself from Senator Clinton by directly addressing the problem of the religious divide in this country. He has also differentiated himself from Senator McCain by trying to heal that divide instead of exploiting it.

There is one theme in the Senator’s speeches that has resurfaced again and again, that we are a religious nation, but we embrace tolerance and inclusion, not hatred and violence.

On June 28, 2006, the Senator asked “which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount?”

During the HRC/Logo debate on August 20 of last year. Senator Obama said “There are people who recognize that if we’re going to talk about justice and civil rights and fairness, that should apply to all people, not just some. And there are some folks who coming out of the church elevated one line in Romans above the Sermon on the Mount. … It is unfortunate. It’s got to stop.”

That, Governor, is the kind of leadership that transcends party lines; it means Senator Obama “gets it.” It is what I would expect to hear from Kennedy, Carter or Lincoln.

I wish I could hear it from you. Please, Governor, lead the people away from divisive politics, and ask them to stop blocking same-sex couples from marriage. We need more Lincolns.

Yours,

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 – 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,

Today’s letter – Super Tuesday defeats opponents of equality

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Looking at the fallout from Super Tuesday, it appears that every candidate who would support a Federal ban on gay marriage has been effectively eliminated. Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney were the strongest opponents of equality – and took the most dramatic falls, Apparently not even the Republicans want to associate with somebody who still believes that we should punish Americans based on the most personal decision they can make: who they love.

The People have won the right to decide for themselves whether they want to reward or punish commitments. Now it is your turn, Governor, to lead California into rewarding committed couples with the freedom to choose marriage.

Please tell the Supreme Court and the People of California that there is nothing wrong with gay marriage.

Yours,

Today’s letter – copy cats

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

The greatest complement, it is said, is to be copied. By that measure, Maryland has given us a great big hug.

The Maryland State Senator from Prince George’s County, Gwendolyn T. Britt, was arrested in 1960 for riding the wrong part of a segregated merry-go-round in Glen Echo Park. Since then, she had adopted a new civil rights battle: to legalize same-sex marriage.

Although she died Jan. 12, her legislation was introduced last week with 49 co-authors. The bill is almost identical to the California law that you vetoed last fall, even in name. The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act would remove language in the state code that limits marriage to unions between men and women, and exempt religious leaders from having to perform or recognize same-sex unions.

I’m proud that California was the first state where the people’s branch of government put a marriage equality bill on their governor’s desk, setting an example for legislative action throughout our great nation. But I am equally sad that we were also the first state to have a civil rights bill like this vetoed by its governor.

Maryland didn’t introduce this bill to copy us, they did it because they know that strong families and individual choice are the cornerstone of Maryland’s economy and a free society. It is too late for you to sign AB 43, but it’s not too late for you to support the freedom to marry for all Californians. Please, Governor, I don’t want to have to copy Maryland.

Yours,

Today’s letter – Upholding the Constitution is not optional

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

When you vetoed AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, you said that you couldn’t sign it because it would have been illegal and you would have gone to jail.

I believe you committed a more criminal act by failing to uphold the Constitution to which you swore allegiance. The Constitution, as you know, says that you are not supposed to pick out a whole group of people because of what they believe or how they were born, and force them to follow a different set of laws than everybody else.

You should have signed AB 43 because it was the right thing to do, and if you went to prison for following your Constitution obligation to protect Californians from discrimination for their religion, gender or sexual orientation, that too would be the right thing to do.

Martin Luther King Jr. explains:

“I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.”

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

“Now, I say to you today my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: – ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

It is too late for you to sign AB 43, but it is not too late for you to end your silence and protect the Constitution by saying everybody deserves the same freedom to marry.

Yours,

Today’s letter – Stand up for tolerance

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Author Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson is a black conservative leader who believes that immorality and the collapse of the family are the biggest problems in the black community. How does he want to fix the problem? By blocking gay marriages.

Reverend Peterson has been spending the past decade fighting against same-sex marriage and gay hate crimes bills. Such legislation, apparently, gives special rights to homosexuals and takes away the rights of Christians, and fighting against other Americans is way more important to him than actually fixing the problems in his community.

“I can absolutely guarantee you that if [gay hate crimes] should pass, then it’s over for Christians,” he states. “We will not be able to speak out against homosexuality.”

Clearly, this guy is a whacko. His reasoning is faulty and his motivation is questionable. What puzzles me is why he is able to get your ear, Governor? Tell me – why are people like Reverend Peterson able to convince you and the Republican Assembly to deprive a group of people their liberty?

I wish you would stand up to bullies like Reverend Peterson, because while there ought to be room for belief in our society, there should be no allowance for intolerance.

Yours,

Today’s letter – Governor Dreyfus’ legacy

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I wanted to write to you to note the passing of former Wisconsin Governor Lee Sherman Dreyfus who died Wednesday at his home near Milwaukee at the age of 81.

Wisconsin’s 40th governor and a devout Republican, he is most famous for signing the first statewide gay rights law in the United States back in 1982, making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in housing, employment, and public accommodations.

At the time he signed the law, Dreyfus declared, “It is a fundamental tenet of the Republican Party that government ought not to intrude in the private lives of individuals where no state purpose is served, and there is nothing more private or intimate than who you live with and who you love.”

Governor Schwarzenegger, I wish more of our governors would show just half of Governor Dreyfus’ wisdom and support free choice in marriage.

Yours,

Today’s letter – Pete Knight: In his own words

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

When you vetoed the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act (and my freedom to marry), you cited “Proposition 22” as last word on same-sex marriage in California. I think it is important to look at what those words are – and what words you support – when you support Proposition 22.

Proposition 22’s author Pete Knight said:

“The man-woman family is the best possible family unit… The woman brings certain characteristics, and the man brings certain characteristics. Homosexuals who want to marry are asking the state to legalize and promote a family unit that is different from the best.”

“They talk about equal rights, but there is no right to marriage. … There is no civil right that says that you should be allowed to marry a man and a man.”

“As far as domestic partners are concerned, I think I can accept, and I would be willing to support, domestic partners with limited rights, limited state’s rights. …they should have the ability to designate whoever they want to come in and visit with them in a hospital. Those kinds of things are kind of basic, and they don’t even need to register as domestic partners to have that happen. There are legal documents, there are legal means, by which they can accomplish that. They can have a will and leave whatever they have to whomever they want. So that’s not something that’s being denied them. They can have those kinds of things.”

“I think, sooner or later, the government is going to have to step in and say, now wait a minute. You can’t have a marriage here and not be accepted here. We had a patchwork one time with slavery, and we had to correct it.”

“The state would have to teach that this is an acceptable family unit. The state should not be sponsoring or promoting a second-class unit.”

This guy sure was good. He was able to convince an entire state of Americans to turn against their principles and say that not all of us are created equal. His success forces me to take time I could be spending with my kids in order to beg for every little scrap that “first-class” units like Britney Spears can get in under an hour. He has managed to redefine marriage as a weapon, and aimed it straight at me.

I wish you, Governor, would do more to thwart this man’s injustices, and less to propagate them.

Yours,