Today’s letter – No Papists

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

If you think the gays have it bad, did you know that England’s 1688 Bill of Rights prohibits heirs to the British throne from marrying a Catholic? As recently as 1978, the queen’s cousin Prince Michael of Kent was removed from the line of succession when he married Marie-Christine von Reibnitz.

Catholics make up about 8% of Britian’s population, but Prime Minister Gordon Brown pointed out that “in the 21st century, people do expect discrimination to be removed.”

Since the British head of state is also regent of 15 other nations including Canada, Australia, Jamaica and Barbados, changing the law is complicated since all would have to agree to the changes.

Yes, it is complicated, but what a relief to hear a politician talking about removing discrimination to boost their popularity. Maybe your Republicans should try it?

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – Republicans are not acting republican

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I voted Tuesday in my last election as a registered Republican. It is sad for me to resign my membership in the Republican party, but the party has strayed too far from a principle that individuals are empowered to make individual decisions.

In particular, as a gay dad, I was lucky enough to find somebody who I like and love, and who loves me in return. We finally won the freedom to make the intimate decision to commit to marriage. But the Republicans, with you as the exception, continue to fight to take that away.

Your party platform glibly informs that “it is important to define marriage as being between one man and one woman” and “we oppose same-sex partner benefits, child custody, and adoption.” – teachings that are designed deny me my freedom to choose who I marry and make individual decisions about how I live my life.

A moral compass that lets one claim individual freedom, yet ostracize ones neighbors is neither American nor Christian, and I want no part of it.

I urge you, for the future of the Republican party, to help the GOP and California State Republican Assembly overcome their hatred and bias in order to open the tent to all individuals who want to make California a better place.

Sadly,

Today’s letter – a modern dividing line


Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

The Mason-Dixon line was used to separate slave states from free states. We have managed to divide our country once again, this time with the battle lines that limit marriage.

Ten states – not even our neighbors – are asking California’s Supreme Court not to lift the special ban on same-sex marriages.

The Opponents of Equality are arguing that they might have to recognize our marriages in their own states, in case the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and their own states’ Constitutional Amendments are somehow struck down.

While these states may or may not have the right to exclude their fellow Americans from fully participating in their economy and society, that is up to them. Trying to punish Californians for their bigoted intolerance is reprehensible.

What is particularly sad is that they don’t even want to block California marriages altogether – they just want them to go away until November, when a Constitutional Amendment (that has not even qualified for the ballot) might stop them.

Please, Governor, join your Attorney General Jerry Brown in opposing these unfortunate attempts to second guess the California Supreme Court and undermine basic human rights in your state.

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 – celebrate diversity

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) presented several awards for the portrayal of lesbian and gay people in the media during their 19th annual Media Awards in New York last week.

The award for television news magazines was shared by Barbara Walters and “60 Minutes” for “My Secret Self: A Story of Transgender Children” and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” about the United States military’s policy on gay and lesbian service members, respectively.

A movie I wrote to you about last year, “For the Bible Tells Me So,” was named outstanding documentary, joining The New York Times, GQ magazine, CNN.com and the television series “Boston Legal” in receiving honors.

Why would people who deserve such meaningful and poignant coverage in the mainstream media, not deserve the freedom to make the commitment of marriage?

I wish you would realize that there is nothing wrong with gay marriage, but there is everything wrong in blocking two adults who love each other from making the commitment of marriage.

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 – What would Lincoln do?

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Today is, of course, Abraham Lincoln’s 199th birthday and the start of a two-year bicentennial celebration. I understand that presidents are a sore subject for you since you are specially banned from being President simply because of where you were born – but maybe that will give you some sympathy for what I am about to propose.

There is a great deal of debate about Lincoln’s life: where he was actually born, whether he was actually against slavery, whether he was gay or straight – but there is little debate about what he would think of today’s fashion of removing from people the freedom to marry.

There is no question that same-sex couples operate on a different level in this country with regards to marriage. The country is divided, and as Mr. Lincoln pointed out, this is not a stable situation. A house divided, falls, but “I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided.” (1858)

The modern Republican sooths his soul by pointing out that all the same rights of marriage can be metered out by civil unions and some good lawyers, and anyways, gay people can get married as long as it is to a person of the opposite sex.

Of course, being able to marry the person of your choice is a lot different than being able to marry. Lincoln said “I do not understand that because I do not want a Negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife.” (1863)

And having a “middle ground” of domestic partnership as a substitute for marriage is also awkward. Mr. Lincoln famously asked an opponent in a debate “If we call its tail a leg, then how many legs does a dog have?” The reply was “Five.” Mr. Lincoln, delighted, said, “No, it is four. Just because you call a tail a leg doesn’t make it so.” Clearly, a marriage by any other name is not the same.

So how are we to unite this house? We must choose to either permanently deny same-sex couples of the freedom to marry, or treat all men (and presumably women) equally and fairly under the law.

“We have, as all will agree, a free Government, where every man has a right to be equal with every other man. In this great struggle, this form of Government and every form of human right is endangered if our enemies succeed.” (1864)

Who are those ‘enemies?’ To answer that question, we need only examine how Mr. Lincoln elevated the Golden Rule, such as in this letter to Henry Pierce: “This is a world of compensations; and he who would be no slave, must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.” (1859)

Would you, Governor, dare to tell a couple they cannot marry because one person is not born in the same country as another? Or because they espouse different political parties? Your own marriage to Maria Shriver (an Amercian, Kennedy & Democrat) is based on those contrivances – and yet in telling some people they must access the time-tested social and legal structure of marriage through some second-rate institution, you reverse the divine rule to do unto others as you would like done to you.

Let me conclude the same way Mr. Lincoln concluded his Address at Cooper Union in 1860: with an admonishment to reject apartheid because it yields no path to freedom.

“Let us be diverted by none of those sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so industriously plied and belabored – contrivances such as groping for some middle ground between the right and the wrong, vain as the search for a man who should be neither a living man nor a dead man – such as a policy of “don’t care” on a question about which all true men do care – such as Union appeals beseeching true Union men to yield to Disunionists, reversing the divine rule, and calling, not the sinners, but the righteous to repentance – such as invocations to Washington, imploring men to unsay what Washington said, and undo what Washington did.”

It is not an accident that Log Cabin Republicans choose the founder of the GOP as their icon. They are not aligning themselves with Mr. Lincoln’s sexuality, they are aligning themselves with the concept that after freedom itself, the greatest blessing of civic life is the opportunity to marry the person you love.

Governor, if Abraham Lincoln were alive today, what do you think he would tell you to do about same-sex marriage?

“Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.”

Please, do your duty, protect the Constitution and give us all the same freedom – the freedom to marry.

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 – Choosing to libertate or to obliberate

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

As an American and as a parent, I believe government should not interfere with individual choices. My personal beliefs are echoed in the California Republican Party Platform, which says:

“As Republicans, we believe the home should remain the central place for individual decision-making, and issues impacting the family should not be handed over to intrusive government bureaucrats. … [P]arents are most capable of making decisions for and about their children … the CRP opposes any effort to weaken parents’ freedom of decision and choice.”

Imagine my surprise when I found a list of lawmakers – Republicans all – who have taken a different vow, by supporting the Protect Marriage campaign “in defense of marriage.” This heartless master says:

“We oppose granting to homosexuals special privileges, including marriage, domestic partnership benefits, and child custody or adoption.”

As a homosexual American and proud parent, let me be clear: such an initiative does not just merely subvert my individual decision-making, but sets out to deliberately destroy my family outright.

You know these people, Governor. They are your colleagues and friends. Yet they have compromised their party and their conscience to pursue a path which is reprehensible. I don’t want you to ask them to abandon their beliefs: I want you to ask them to choose which belief they really support: their belief that gay people should be excluded from our economy and society, or that all individuals should have the same freedom of personal choice, especially in who they marry.

Yours,

ATTACHMENT: lawmakers who endorse the “protect marriage” campaign

ProtectMarriage.com Coalition Endorsements

State Senators
Senator Dick Ackerman (R-Tustin) – www.senate.ca.gov/Ackerman
Senator Sam Aanestad (R-Redding) – www.senate.ca.gov/Aanestad
Senator Roy Ashburn (R-Bakersfield ) – www.senate.ca.gov/Ashburn
Senator James Battin, Jr. (R-La Quinta) – www.senate.ca.gov/Battin
Senator John Campbell (R-Irvine) – www.senate.ca.gov/Campbell
Senator Dave Cox (R-Fair Oaks) – www.senate.ca.gov/Cox
Senator Jeff Denham (R-Merced) – www.senate.ca.gov/Denham
Senator Bob Dutton (R-San Bernadino) – www.senate.ca.gov/Dutton
Senator Dennis Hollingsworth (R- El Cajon) – www.senate.ca.gov/Hollingsworth
Senator Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria) – www.senate.ca.gov/Maldonado
Senator Bob Margett (R-Arcadia) – www.senate.ca.gov/Margett
Senator Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks) – www.senate.ca.gov/McClintock
Senator Bill Morrow (R-Oceanside) – www.senate.ca.gov/Morrow
Senator Charles Poochigian (R-Fresno) – www.senate.ca.gov/Poochigian
Senator George Runner (R-Antelope Valley) – www.senate.ca.gov/Runner
Senator Mark Wyland (R-Carlsbad) – www.assembly.ca.gov/Wyland

Assembly Members
Assemblyman Greg Aghzarian (R-Stockton) – www.assembly.ca.gov/Aghazarian
Assemblyman John Benoit (R-Palm Desert) – www.assembly.ca.gov/Benoit
Assemblyman Russ Bogh (R-Yucaipa) – www.assembly.ca.gov/Bogh
Assemblyman Dave Cogdill (R-Modesto) – www.assembly.ca.gov/Cogdill
Assemblyman Chuck Devore (R-Irvine) – www.assembly.ca.gov/DeVore
Assemblyman Bill Emmerson (R-Redlands) – www.assembly.ca.gov/Emmerson
Assemblyman Tom Harman (R-Huntington Beach) – www.assembly.ca.gov/Harman
Assemblyman Guy Houston (R-San Ramon) – www.assembly.ca.gov/Houston
Assemblyman Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) – www.assembly.ca.gov/Huff
Assemblyman Rick Keene (R-Chico) – www.assembly.ca.gov/Keene
Assemblyman Doug LaMalfa (R-Biggs) – www.assembly.ca.gov/LaMalfa
Assemblyman Jay LaSuer (R-LaMesa) – www.assembly.ca.gov/LaSuer
Assemblyman Bill Maze (R-Visalia) – www.assembly.ca.gov/Maze
Assemblyman Dennis Mountjoy (R-Monrovia) – www.assembly.ca.gov/Mountjoy
Assemblyman Alan Nakanishi (R-Lodi) – www.assembly.ca.gov/Nakanishi
Assemblyman Roger Niello (R-Sacramento) – www.assembly.ca.gov/Niello
Assemblyman George Plescia (R-San Diego) – www.assembly.ca.gov/Plescia
Assemblywoman Sharon Runner (R-Lancaster) – www.assembly.ca.gov/Runner
Assemblywoman Audra Strickland (R-Camarillo) – www.assembly.ca.gov/Strickland
Assemblyman Van Tran (R-Costa Mesa) – www.assembly.ca.gov/Tran
Assemblyman Michael Villines (R-Clovis) – www.assembly.ca.gov/Villines
Assemblywoman Mimi Walters (R-Laguna Niguel) – www.assembly.ca.gov/Walters

Today’s letter – Death to the Infidels, the sick, the poor, the young and the different

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I think that we are all on the edge of our seats about the plight of Gillian Gibbons, the teacher who was arrested in Sudan after she let her class name a teddy bear “Mohammed.” Yesterday, 600 protesters poured out of mosques chanting “By soul, by blood, I will fight for the Prophet Mohammed” and “Kill her, kill her by firing squad.”

This seems so alien and so backwards to us, I think, because the punishment does not seem appropriate to the crime. Who would call for somebody’s death for trying to do good? Thank God this can’t happen here in America. Or can it?

Religion makes Americans do unspeakable things to each other, with the full sanction of the Government. How many people will die unnecessarily because we have blocked stem cell research for six years? How many people will get AIDS unnecessarily because we blocked needle exchange and access to condoms? How many women will die in childbirth because we blocked access to basic sex education? How many gay teens will commit suicide because we block their hope of marriage?

All these ridiculous laws cause great harm by punishing people who have done nothing wrong, in order to satisfy a few religious whiners who lack the tolerance and goodwill to respect the life and liberty of their neighbors. I’m sure we look as irrational and intolerant to outsiders as Sudan does to us.

I am proud of you for stepping up to do the right thing on many of these issues, such as supporting stem-cell research, signing AB 110 for state funding of needle exchange programs, and signing AB 629 for truthful sex education – a critical life skill.

I wish you would join the people and the legislature on one more issue: tearing down the special exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage. This unjustifiable ban costs the state money, deprives citizens of their personal liberty, and punishes committed couples for doing nothing wrong. Really, you don’t even need to sign anything – just start talking about how the punishment of Domestic Partnership does not fit the crime of Love.

Yours,