Today’s letter – Lessons from Canada

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

As you consider your position on AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, you might like to hear from some people I consider to be real leaders, in a situation very similar to yours.

Starting in 2003, Canada’s most senior leaders steadily argued for “marriage” before adopting a Federal law in 2005. Their comments were critical for taking the people from being sharply divided on the issue to becoming overwhelming supporters for total marriage equality.

If people want to do something and it doesn’t hurt other people, doesn’t reduce other people’s rights, we should let them do it. Why not?

– Canadian Defense Minister John McCallum, August 13, 2003

My responsibility as Prime Minister, my duty to Canada and to Canadians, is to defend the Charter in its entirety. Not to pick and choose the rights that our laws shall protect and those that are to be ignored. Not to decree those who shall be equal and those who shall not.

– Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, February 1, 2005

I’m a Catholic and I’m praying. But I am the prime minister of Canada …I’m acting as a person responsible for the nation. The problem of my religion – I deal with it in other circumstances.

– Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, August 13 2003

Many Canadians will want to accept both of these principles: protect the traditional definition of marriage and protect the rights of minorities…. We cannot have it both ways. We must make a choice between traditional marriage and the protection of minority rights.

– Canadian Minister of National Revenue John McCallum, March 21, 2005

[S]ome have counseled the government to extend to Gays and Lesbians the right to civil union. This would give same-sex couples many of the rights of a wedded couple, but their relationships would not legally be considered marriage. In other words, they would be equal, but not quite as equal as the rest of Canadians. …[S]eparate but equal is not equal.

– Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, February 1, 2005

Less than equal is less than adequate. To create another institution [such as civil unions] just contributes to the fact that we would tell those members of the gay and lesbian community that they are not entirely part of our society. Why wouldn’t they be part of marriage?

– Canadian Justice Minister Martin Cauchon, August 13, 2003

If a prime minister and a national government are willing to take away the rights of one group, what is to say they will stop at that? How can we as a nation of minorities ever hope, ever believe, ever trust that [the constitution] will be there to protect us tomorrow?

– Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, February 1, 2005

We won’t be appealing the recent decision on the definition of marriage. Rather, we’ll be proposing legislation that will protect the right of churches and religious organizations to sanctify marriage as they define it. At the same time, we will ensure that our legislation includes and legally recognizes the union of same-sex couples.”

– Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, June 16, 2003

We embrace freedom and equality in theory, Mr. Speaker. We must also embrace them in fact.

– Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, February 1, 2005

I hope you take these to heart and lead the people the right way. Please start by advocating AB 43 and showing, in fact, that you believe in equality.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – Going to Disneyland

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Today I’m going to Disneyland! Disneyland opened up their Fairy Tale Wedding packages on April 5 to people who are unable to secure a valid marriage license – like the citizens of California currently in Domestic Partnership relationships.

A Disney spokesman said “This is consistent with our policy of creating a welcoming, respectful and inclusive environment for all of our guests.”

I wish California would follow Disney’s lead, and like Massachusetts, Canada, Spain and South Africa, welcome our same-sex couples with the dignity of marriage. Please sign AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, when it reaches your desk this Fall.

California Dreamin’,

Today’s letter – States’ Rights

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

We passed Proposition 22 so we could make our own decisions about marriage.

It is time to exercise that right, and go where the Federal government won’t: when you get AB 43 , please sign it so same-sex couples can have all of the privileges of marriage – in fact and in name.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – Undefining Marriage

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

From 1850 to 1977, California marriage law contained no reference to ‘man’ or ‘woman.’ AB 43, The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, simply would restore the common-sense language that was in our Family Code for 127 years: “Marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between two persons.”

I don’t know what made us redefine marriage in 1977, but government-imposed limits on personal freedom have no place in the 21st Century. Please sign AB 43 and get rid of this recent and arbitrary restriction.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – Proposition 22

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

You have stated that you would veto AB 43, the “Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act,” because it conflicts with the part of the California Family Code that was installed by Proposition 22 in March of 2000.

I was surprised to discover that AB 43 does not conflict one bit. Section 300 of our Family Code says “Marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between a man and a woman,” while section 308 deals with marriages from other jurisdictions. Proposition 22 added Section 308.5 and was marketed and sold as defending California from marriages performed elsewhere, as evidenced by its redundant language and subordinate placement. Proposition 22 was never intended to stop civil gay marriage in California, or its makers would have changed Section 300 and the Constitution, not Section 308.5.

If you don’t believe me, you can read the bill. AB 43 was written to specifically fix Section 300. It won’t touch 308.5. If the courts decide this Fall that 308.5 is unconstitutional – as you desire – we need AB 43.

You are free by law – and obligated by the Constitution – to remove the ban on same-sex couples from marriage. Please sign AB 43 and say no to discrimination in this state.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – Upgrading Domestic Partnerships

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

We’ve had AB 205, the Domestic Partnership law, here in California for long enough to know that it’s time to upgrade to proper marriage.

Case in point: Vermont has had Domestic Partnership since 2000. Legislators there are starting to say that it is time for a change – to marriage.

Just this week (with elections looming), Vermont House Speaker Gaye Symington said “I think for many Vermonters the question has been when, not so much as whether, we would eventually recognize same-sex union through marriage,” and Vermont Senate President Pro Tempore Peter Shumlin said, “I think now most Vermonters would acknowledge [Civil Unions] haven’t impacted their families in any way, shape or form.”

A January 2006 poll in Vermont found 53 percent of respondents favored replacing the “civil unions” with marriage. And that was eighteen months ago!

I’m tired of being behind the curve on civil liberty. I wish we had marriage parity in California like they have in Massachusetts, Canada and Spain – and soon perhaps Vermont. Please sign AB 43 and tell the people to say no to discrimination.

Yours,

Today’s letter – Alimony case shows two systems for marriage are irrational

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I’m writing to you today about the attached CNN article describing how Orange County resident Ron Garber must continue to pay alimony even though his ex-wife has entered a new legal relationship. The judge ruled that her domestic partnership is merely “cohabitation,” so Mr. Garber must continue to pay $1250 a month.

Mr. Garber now understands how confusing and unfair it is to have two sets of laws governing relationships in this state. As Governor, you have an opportunity to eliminate this apartheid and reduce the size of government at the same time.

Could you please consider signing AB 43 in order to send a highly visible message that what looks like marriage and quacks like marriage ought to be called marriage?

Many thanks in advance,

Today’s letter – More to Marriage than Man and Woman

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

A small but vocal minority have found a lucrative industry in convincing people that marriage is only between a man and a woman. They often forget the rest – that a marriage more importantly refers to two people in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law.

My own marriage – which is awkwardly called a ‘domestic partnership’ in California – bears this out. For us, getting married meant that we were bonded together for the rest of our lives, by family, law and God. My 80-year-old parents gave us both matching rings, and my 6-year-old niece drew us a picture of us together.

If two senior citizens and a child know that “man on woman” is a lie, why don’t you?

A marriage does not begin and end with “a man and a woman” in the real world, and it should not do so in California. Please sign AB 43 and help the people of California one step closer to realizing justice and equality.

Yours,

If you can take away marriage…

The subtitle of this blog is “If you can take away marriage, you can take away anything.”

What that means is that I don’t think that the Opponents of Equality are really targeting the Gays. I believe that they are a coalition of groups that have their eyes set at terminating loftier prizes: abortion, affirmative action, immigrants, Arabs, Jews, public schools, evolution – the list goes on.

Remember that these are the same people who argued for, and subsequently lost, the ability to prevent different races from sharing the same schools and to keep women from voting. I think that they are actually amazed that they are finally winning on an issue, and just a bit embarrassed that it is not from an ethical or moral high ground, but just really good PR.

The fact is that gay marriage is just a pawn in this game. Randy Thomason doesn’t give a toss about the gays, but the power and money he gets by terrorizing them will let him graduate to other sinister criminalizations. I don’t get the feeling that Governor Schwartzenegger is morally opposed to this bill – but the fact that he has the power to veto it gives him the ability to get other things.

Think of all the good stuff we could do with the money and energy that has been spent trying to make a group of people into second-class citizens. If we can take away marriage discrimination, we can take away all discrimination. Who would oppose that?