Dear Mr. Mayor,

When we purchased our house last summer, we discovered that it was part of a tract of land subject to a racist covenant. It seems that Paulina Kirst, who accumulated some Rancho La Cañada land from the Lantermans around 1901, added the covenant when she sold it for development in 1945. This clause of the contract said she or her descendants could reclaim the property if anybody “not of the White or Caucasian race” were to ever live on it.

When the property was subdivided, each of the 130 lots got the same covenant applied to them.

Such covenants are illegal, but we wanted it gone. Neither our Realtor, Escrow nor Title agents knew how to do this, but our County Assessor explained the simple process. There is a state law requiring the County Assessor to provide a form, and perform the change for free.

I call on the City Council to condemn this language, make homeowners in the affected tracts aware of how easy it is to remove this language, and challenge the Realtors, Escrow and Title agents working in the area to provide the County Assessor form as part of every real estate transaction. The form is available from the County Assessor’s office by searching for the Los Angeles County Restrictive Covenant Modification Form or by visiting


Today’s letter – In-laws are people too

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I’m sorry to hear that your mother-in-law, Eunice Schriver, is in the hospital.

I wish I could have a mother-in-law. The woman who fills that role is just as vibrant, just as delightful and just as much of a person as Eunice – but because of the ban on gay marriage that you support, she can’t be my mother-in-law.

I wish the best for Eunice and your family during this difficult time, and encourage you to relish this relationship that only the special right of marriage can provide.


Today’s letter – My Religious Belief

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I want to get married, but my quest is blocked by people quoting scripture and a Governor who appeases them. While the part of scripture they trumpet seems to admonish gay sex, another part of the bible tells a very different story about same-sex marriage.

The story of Ruth and Naomi, a same-sex couple, starts out with Naomi practically dead with grief and despair. Ruth resurrects her with a moving speech that includes the line you might have said at your own wedding: “till death do us part.” By the end of the story, Ruth and her “beard” Boaz have a child while the women of Bethlehem really know what’s going on, declaring that “a son has been born to Naomi.”

We can disagree about what the bible says about sex, but we cannot disagree about the message that God is sending us with the marriage of Ruth and Naomi: that love comes in many forms, and all loving couples deserve the freedom to marry. I wish you, as Governor, would get out of the way of my exercise of my beliefs and let me wed.


Today’s letter – Fair work and fair pay for a labor of love

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

On this Labor Day, I want to share a story of success for California’s Domestic Partnerships.

You might have heard of Longshore union worker William Swenor, who had died suddenly in March 2005, leaving his partner of 51 years, Marvin Burrows, unable to claim his partner’s pension because their contracts only acknowledge ‘married spouses.’

After two years of talks, the Industrial Employers and Distributors Association and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 6 was persuaded to renegotiate its contract to provide registered domestic partners with the same pension benefits as spouses. They made the change retroactive because “it was the right thing to do.”

Not everybody is as brave Mr. Burrows, who spoke up for his rights in an environment often toxic to gay people; not everybody is resourceful enough to get the National Center for Lesbian Rights to represent them; not every organization is as fair-minded as the ILWU.

That is why California needs AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, so all California couples will have the same freedom to choose the stability and security of marriage.

The alternative, as Mr. Burrows discovered, is to get your employer to recognize your ‘domestic partnership’ as the equivalent of marriage, which, in this labor of love, was finally the case.