Today’s letter – What it means to live free

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

New Hampshire’s motto is “live free or die” and they demonstrated that, partially, by introducing civil unions for gay couples yesterday.

No, it’s not real marriage like their neighbor Massachusetts has had since 2004, but it is a big reversal for a state that banned gay couples from marriage just three years ago.

So hurray for states like New Hampshire that recognize that living free requires the freedom to choose your own relationships: there is hope for them – and for us – that freedom will not forever stop short of the freedom to marry.

Yours,

Today’s letter – smokers have more liberty for less public good

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I don’t understand why Government supports the freedom of people to smoke, but not the freedom of people to marry.

In the economics of exchanging liberty “for the public good”, an outright ban on cigarettes would clearly tip to the public good. Yet your sense of justice tells you denying people even the freedom to poison others is wrong.

In the case of my marriage, Government has taken away my liberty “for the public good.” But there is no good that has come of it. The “secondhand marriage” that I’m thrust into costs taxpayers more money to administer, limits my participation in the economy, and sends the poisonous message that government can punish people not for what they do, but for their individual beliefs or immutable characteristics.

If there is no public good, why am I forced to surrender my liberty? Would you please explain to the people and your fellow Republicans that Government should not have eminent domain on individual freedom.

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,

Today’s letter – Silently tolerating nonsense

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I like you because you’re a non-nonsense kind of guy. You drive a hummer and smoke cigars regardless of what people say. And just as effectively as you enjoy your own freedoms, you usually defend those of Californians. I would have even voted for you – except for one strange thing: you consistently and mysteriously block same-sex couples from having the freedom to marry.

There were many occasions when you could have stepped up and said something in support of this freedom. Way back when Proposition 22 was just a gleam in Pete Knight’s eye, you could have said “people should be able to do what they want” in the context of gay marriage instead of gay sex. When I was married in San Francisco in 2004 you could have said “we ought to change things so these people can get married legally” instead of just smacking down with the law. When the people and legislature asked you to sign AB 849 in 2005 and AB 43 in 2007, you could have said “I regret having to veto the bill.” Instead you gleefully sent it – and my freedom – back to ground zero.

Thousands of same-sex couples are just trying to make the same commitment of marriage you and Maria were free to make. Why do you tolerate the nonsense of domestic apartheid? Why do you stand silent while freedoms are being trampled?

I really expected more from you.

Yours,

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,

Today’s letter – Thank God for Happiness

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Happy Thanksgiving!

At the dinner table this afternoon my mother told me that her friend Harold had shown her pictures of his grandchildren for the first time last week. She said that he hadn’t wanted to show them because he felt bad that they would “never have grandkids of their own.”

If I had been less blessed, I would have never have found my ‘soulmate,’ been Domestic Partnered and pursued surrogacy, and they wouldn’t have grandkids. But life has been bountiful for me. My parents are grandparents, and now they are happy for Harold, Harold is happy for them, and I am happy that they are happy. Yeah happy!

On this day of giving thanks, I want to thank you for giving California an environment where lesbian and gay families can exist, and giving me the freedom to ask my government to get off of my back and let these couples wed. Please support the freedom to marry, and make more happy people.

Yours,

Today’s letter – A good team at bat, but one bad player put us way behind on human rights

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I knew California was the first state to end the ban on interracial marriages (1948) and I always assumed we would continue to be leaders and proponents for all civil rights. Imagine my surprise when I discovered California didn’t add sexual orientation to its protected classes until ten years after Wisconsin (1982). We were also out-scored by Massachusetts (1989), Connecticut (1991) and Hawaii (1991).

Likewise with marriage equivalency, we were behind the ball. Even Hawaii had domestic partnerships before we did (1997) and Vermont scored in 2000, Our Domestic-Partnership-is-the-same-as-marriage law didn’t get to home base until 2005, five years too late.

On marriage, we were poised to take the lead when love went to bat in San Francisco in the spring of 2004, and when our legislature became the first to channel that human need from the people to the governor. But Massachusetts won the World Series of civil rights when they approved marriage and you struck us out – becoming not part of the first state to end the ban on same-sex marriage, but the first governor to unilaterally block the people’s freedom to marry.

I am embarrassed that you took away our victory then, and embarrassed that you refuse to stand on the side of freedom and equality now. Please stop telling your friends, colleagues and neighbors that their relationships – and their humanity – is less important than yours, and support the freedom to marry.

Yours,

Today’s letter – it was we the people, not heterosexual males, who formed the union

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

It has been 135 years since Susan B. Anthony voted in the 1872 presidential election. She was arrested barely two weeks later because it was illegal at the time for women to vote.

In her defense, she argued that the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution said that all “persons” born in the US are citizens who can’t be denied the privileges of citizenship – then she pointed out if she were male, her behavior would have never been questioned.

“It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people – women as well as men. And it is a downright mockery to talk to women of their enjoyment of the blessings of liberty while they are denied the use of the only means of securing them provided by this democratic-republican government: the ballot.”

It took almost fifty years, but Susan B. Anthony managed to “redefine” voting laws to end the exclusion of women.

When you vetoed the Religious Tolerance and Civil Marriage Protection Act you said it was because of Proposition 22, a voter initiative that did not change either the Constitution of this State or this Country. You said I should be happy to enjoy the blessings of Domestic Partnership, and blocked me from making the commitment of marriage just because of the gender of the person I love.

I respectfully ask you to join us in the spirit of Susan B. Anthony and help us to “redefine marriage” so that all committed couples can make the commitment of marriage.

Yours,

Today’s letter – sharing helps out when two worlds collide

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Yesterday, we went to Disneyland for the Tenth Annual Gay Days celebration. While I was hanging out with people who are going to be working really hard over the next few election cycles to keep those who veto their families out of public office, I wondered how people who disagree about things eventually get along.

Looking around, I saw a lot of people having a good time. Apparently, as long as one group doesn’t specially reach out to interfere with another, things go great.

Whether it is a water fountain or a wedding, “sharing” is something we learned in kindergarten that still works in the real world. I wish you would “share” access to marriage by signing AB 43 and supporting the freedom to marry. It’s the only way we can even agree to disagree.

Yours,

Today’s letter – Once again, Domestic Partnership is not the same as Marriage

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I’m just a normal guy trying to be the best father I can. Something has to really upset me to get me to write a letter. You accomplished that when you said that Domestic Partnership is the same as marriage.

You make me feel me frustrated because anybody with the sense God gave geese knows that they’re different. Domestic Partnership isn’t enough to satisfy the people who are forced into them, and it’s too much to satisfy the Opponents of Equality. In the meantime taxpayers are forking out to maintain a separate set of laws governing relationships and everybody is confused because there is no simple definition of a relationship.

I have to admit that when my California Domestic Partner and I got Domestic Partnered over a photocopier in the Glendale Galleria, it was not the happiest moment in my life. It was more like a trip to the dentist. But when we were eloped in San Francisco in 2004, my mother cried because she couldn’t make it in time to see her son get married. That’s the power a word has.

Obviously, you wouldn’t exclude people from marriage if you didn’t think that Domestic Partnerships were equal. Even you know that would be wrong. I’m here to tell you that they are not equal, not even separate-but-equal. They are demeaning and humiliating by their very design – the verbal and political equivalent of South Africa’s Townships and the pyramids of Abu Ghraib. When you say they are the same, you are wrong: not only technically incorrect but also ethically bankrupt.

You don’t have to sign AB 43 to support the freedom to marry, but as long as you pretend that Domestic Partnerships are the same as marriage, you are doing yourself and the people of California a grave disservice.

Sincerely,