Today’s letter – tolerance is an economic necessity

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Business columnist Jay Hancock wrote in Wednesday’s Baltimore Sun that “Societies that are tolerant, free and diverse tend to be richer and happier than societies that aren’t.”

He points to a long-term public necessity to attract a young workforce that craves culture, tolerance, diversity and educational resources – and any sign of intolerance is anathema to this “high-tech nirvana.”

Economic theorist Richard Florida noted in The Rise of the Creative Class that “to some extent, homosexuality represents the last frontier of diversity in our society, and thus a place that welcomes the gay community welcomes all kinds of people,”

Governor, giving the people the freedom to make the individual decision of who they marry is not only the right thing to do, but it is also a necessary economic investment in California’s future. Please don’t just ‘protect’ marriage, but improve it, and improve our state along the way.

Yours,

Today’s letter – don’t protect marriage, improve it

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Marriage sure has gone through a lot of changes in the past centuries.

A girl’s father used to decide who his daughter would marry. Then there were bans on interfaith and interracial marriages. Nowadays, almost everybody can choose who they marry – except for me. A special ban on same-sex couples takes away my right to choose who I marry and gives it to the government.

The only person who should be making the choice of who I marry is me.

Governor, it is time to stop “protecting” marriage, and start improving it.

Yours,

Today’s letter – not the government, and certainly not the Governor

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

When I was at the Valentine’s Day demonstration last Thursday, holding two adorable kids, I got a lot of questions. One was “what does marriage mean to you?”

I told them what I will tell you: “Marriage is a time-tested legal and social structure uniting two families. The only person who should be making the choice of who to marry is me. Not the government, and certainly not the Governor.”

Governor, giving the people the freedom to choose who they marry would make marriages stronger and last longer, don’t you think? It is time to stop protecting marriage, and start improving it.

Yours,

Today’s letter – my marriage restored my faith that government works

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Next week, on February 14, it will have been four years since my husband and I were married in San Francisco.

Two days before, two friend of ours from Washington D.C. – who are now godparents of our children – pointed out that the marriages in San Francisco might not continue for long. We decided to seize the opportunity and elope.

The morning of Valentine’s Day we hopped on a Southwest flight and emerged from the BART to find that love had erupted. Not Ted Haggard / Larry Craig kind of love, but couple after couple who had been waiting together for years for this day. We were herded through City Hall and got to say our vows to each other in the atrium. Even I was unable to hold back tears as I promised my best friend and lover that I would be his “until death do us part” and we were declared “spouses for life.”

We had time to have a romantic dinner in Fisherman’s Wharf before catching our flight out of Oakland back to L.A.

That day was important for us because it really solidified what we meant to each other, and had a piece of paper to prove it. My husband’s parents had always treated us as a couple, and were quite upset that they hadn’t been invited to the wedding. For my parents it was more significant – from that point on, my parents also treated us as spouses for life.

Most of all, it restored my faith in my government, that we could overcome our divisions and really behave according to our beliefs: that no matter what you think about gay marriage, all Americans are entitled to the freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness. And that includes the freedom to marry the person they love.

Yours,

Today’s letter – endorse individual freedom

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I read today that you finally endorsed John McCain for President in 2008. You said “McCain has a great vision to protect the environment and also protect the economy” and that strong investments in green technology can lead to a cleaner planet without sacrifices in quality of life.

Republicans say they believe in their core that individuals make the best decisions about what insurance they want to buy and how green they want to be, but you and Senator McCain both stop short of letting individuals decide who they can marry.

In 2004, Senator McCain was on the right path when he said “The constitutional amendment [banning gay marriage] strikes me as antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans” because it would take individual decisions away from states and give them to the federal government.

Well, thanks to Republicans like John McCain, the power to block same-sex couples from marriage is in the hands of the states. Now, Governor, it is your turn to send that power down to the people themselves.

Republicans say they believe that individuals can make the best decisions about making their family healthy and strong. Under that mantra, the only people who should be deciding if they should get married are the people getting married.

Yours,

Today’s letter – State of the State

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

In your “State of the State” address last Tuesday, you asked legislators to work with you to tackle some of California’s most pressing challenges. While your list had many important items, I expected that your agenda would have been topped by the plight of over 100,000 Californians who are specially blocked from getting married. That’s 100,000 Californians who would like have the freedom to marry the person they love, but are specially excluded from participating our economy and society.

While we are still debating whether people have a right to health care or clean air, we are all in agreement that the people have a right to live free from discrimination based on their gender, religion or sexual orientation.

I wish you would assume leadership of this issue like you have on the budget, education, growth, health care and the environment, because of all of the great things you want to accomplish, there is nothing more important than ensuring that all Californians have the freedom to enjoy them.

Yours,

Today’s letter – Are Americans entitled to discriminate?

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I’ve been having an online debate with YouTube user “shifty567” about entitlement, exclusion and society, and we need your help to settle it.

Shifty567 says “Certain and defined expectations are necessary to help hold a society together. People define marriage as between a man and a [woman]. That is not an oppression of your rights, but a difference of opinion and definition. The problem is that you are using the idea of freedom to justify your desire for something that you think you are entitled to, but you are not entitled to redefine beliefs.”

I say “Families get married, businesses get married; there is no “man on woman” definition of marriage. I’m not blocked from marriage because of a “definition,” but only because of my gender. Asking to be treated fairly is not entitlement, it is asking to be free from restrictions because of race, religion and gender. And I like to think Americans still believe in freedom.”

So which is it, Governor? Is my special exclusion from marriage necessary to hold society together, or is my exclusion from marriage an aberration in the American principle of “all men are created equal?”

My future rests with your opinion on this matter.

Yours,

Today’s letter – Only Lies Separate Gays from God

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I’m just a guy who is trying to be the best husband and father that I can, and I’m willing to work hard for a better world. As a gay man who believes in God and the tradition of getting married, I’m really getting beaten up today, and although I already have God on my side, I could sure use your help too.

Gregg Shields, national spokesman for the Boy Scouts, expressed his organization’s religious beliefs: “Since we were founded, we believe that open homosexuality would be inconsistent with the values that we want to communicate with our leaders.”

Mr. Shields explained a bit more though, saying “A belief in God is also mentioned in the Scout oath. We believe that those values are important. Tradition is important. Our mission is to instill those values in scouts and help them make good choices over their lifetimes.”

It is no accident that Mr. Shields links homosexuals to people who don’t believe in God and don’t follow tradition. It is probably what he was taught. But anybody with the brains God gave geese knows that this is a lie.

I am living proof that homosexuals can and do believe in God and want to follow tradition, perhaps more than anybody – I not only want to carry on my family’s tradition by getting married and sending my kids to Scout Camp, but I also want to achieve that without lying about myself or my family. That’s what the Scout oath is really about.

When Mr. Shields uses lies to separate my family from God, he is also separating my family from Freedom. Mitt Romney pointed out today that “Freedom requires religion, just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.”

I just don’t have the same muscle as The Boy Scouts, The Mormon Church or The State of California. That’s why I need your help to set things straight. I wish you would support the freedom of families like mine to follow their beliefs and traditions. I wish you would support the freedom to marry.

Yours,

Today’s letter – Uruguay has more freedom than America

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I used to get excited when a new country announced recognition of same-sex couples. For example, Uruguay is about to provide equivalent social security, pension, inheritance, and parenting rights to both heterosexual and homosexual couples through a “civil union” structure. I used to see it as a tipping point in the way people saw – and treated – their lesbian and gay brethren.

But with Civil Unions or marriage available throughout almost forty countries representing every continent except Antarctica, I’m starting to instead see it as a countdown until the United States is the last country on earth that fails to allow her lesbian and gay citizens to fully participate in the economy and community.

How can we say America is the “land of the free” when people in Uruguay get social security, pension, inheritance, and parenting rights, while my partner of ten years and I become legal strangers as soon as we step out of our home state? Uruguay!!!!!!

It is truly a global embarrassment that you, Governor, tolerate the negative and divisive bullying tactics that the Campaign for Children and Families (CCF) and other opponents of equality are using to carve out and marginalize an entire group of people based on who they happen to love.

Change begins at home. The next year will be pivotal in the fight between the opponents of equality and fair-minded Californians. I need you to do more than stay silent: please support the freedom to marry so the United States might someday join the world community in treating all of her citizens with dignity and respect.

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,