Letter to Vermont Governor Jim Douglas – No Excuse

Governor Jim Douglas
109 State Street, Pavilion
Montpelier, VT 05609-0101

March 31, 2009

RE: Civil marriage bill S.115

Dear Governor Douglas,

What I don’t get is why in a state with its long history of accepting gays and lesbians on par with heterosexuals, you are unwilling to take the final step towards full equality?

The excuses that you give – that it is a “personal” decision, that it “interferes” with lawmakers’ attention to the economy – all ring hollow to me.

I would like an explanation that I am not embarrassed to tell my kids. One that explains why an American would deny freedom to another; why a Republican would meddle in individual personal relationships, or why a Christian would go against even the teachings of his UCC Church and treat others as he would not like to be treated himself.


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.


Today’s letter – Looking for answers

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I’m just an ordinary guy who is a little naive about how politics works. I’m hoping you could help us resolve a bet. My friend Sharla and I are trying to figure out why you would deprive your constituents the freedom to marry. Sharla says it’s because you personally don’t want the gays to get married – because of your church and stuff – but I say it’s because you don’t want to lose the money and votes that the Religiously Righteous keep giving you.

Either way you have to have some good selfish reason for spending $24 million of taxpayer money each year to block committed couples from making the commitment of marriage, and blocking churches from performing the ceremonies.

So, Governor, just between us, why are you blocking the political will of the people; why are you against the freedom to marry?


Today’s letter – what’s the real reason?

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I want to ask you a question: why are you really planning to veto AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act?

  • It’s obviously not from a hatred of gays, or you wouldn’t have signed all the Domestic Partnership bills that we have labored to bring you.
  • It’s probably not because you want bloated government, with two sets of laws covering relationships, making loopholes that cost taxpayers money, or you would not have fought against bloated government your whole political career.
  • It’s clearly not because of ‘the will of the people’ because anybody with the brains God gave geese knows that the legislature would not have sent this to you if we had not convinced ‘the people’ to ask for it.
  • I hope it isn’t because you think the courts should decide. Every citizen knows that the legislature is supposed to make the decisions, the courts are supposed to enforce them.
  • It probably isn’t because of Proposition 22, a bill that did nothing to change marriage in California that was passed seven-years ago and will not be affected by AB 43, because you know that same-sex couples were actually excluded from marriage by Governor Jerry Brown in 1977.
  • It can’t be because of religion: too many people of faith believe in the freedom to love over the freedom to judge, and you would never stand in the way of religious freedom.
  • It is likely not because you think that Domestic Partnership is enough, because anybody who has been married, as you have, knows the difference a wedding makes.

I imagine what happened is that Karl Rove sat you down and said you can break with the Party on healthcare and the environment, but if California gets gay marriage, it will make the party that said gays can’t be good parents look like fools. Republicans will lose their big bigoted donors and their committed base won’t turn out.

It’s the only reason I can think of that you would be willing to veto against your conscience. I wish it wasn’t true, because it means you’re going to flush my freedom to marry the person I love down the toilet in a short-term and short-sighted play for votes, power and money.

Please – please – please – tell me the real reason that you are going to veto my family, because it can’t be worse than the one that I have imagined.