Today’s letter – lying is worse than homosexuality

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I’m just trying to be the best husband and father that I can. That’s why I want to thank you for passing SB 777 to teach the truth in our schools.

I remember when I had my first sex-ed class (in a private Catholic school). I was in sixth grade. The principal and the male faculty took all the boys into the library, while the female faculty took all the girls to a classroom in the other end of the building. Being in the library, while the principal was trying to explain the reproductive system, we were looking up obscene words in the unabridged dictionary. That’s when I discovered to my dismay that a “navel” was several inches above where I thought it was. It was, in retrospect, very educational – but not because of the reasons that the faculty had intended.

Americans have developed a bad habit of confronting situations that challenge their beliefs by praying for contrary evidence to go away, then persecuting anybody who resists. Just like evolution and heliocentrism (a word from that unabridged dictionary) got this treatment in the past, homosexuals are getting it now.

As a gay man who believes in God and His country, raising children in a committed same-sex relationship, I’m a pretty damming piece of evidence that there is nothing wrong with gay marriage.

But in an attempt to make people like me “go away,” the Boy Scouts say that I don’t believe in God, Mormons say I am unpatriotic, Catholics say that I can’t get into heaven, and Republicans say I can’t raise children.

Just lying doesn’t make people like me go away – it just keeps me from fully participating in our economy and society. And that hurts everybody.

It doesn’t matter what somebody’s religious beliefs are, they are never an excuse for teaching lies to our children. Thank you for taking a stand for families by signing SB 777.

Yours,

Today’s letter – Salvation Army Undermines World AIDS Effort

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Today is World AIDS Day. It’s an awful disease. Government is not doing enough, and the religious are doing even less.

The US branch of the Salvation Army ignores this day to ring bells in suburbia. They divert money from direct aid in order to block the only things that are shown to stop the disease: needle exchange, condoms, and commitments like same-sex marriage. They use the excuse of religion to pick and choose who they help – reserving food baskets and employee health care for people who meet their myopic definition of family.

Money can not “do the most good” when it is dispensed with an agenda influenced not by compassion but by judgment. Nobody can help people when they hate them.

I wish you would say something this holiday season about how the Salvation Army is undermining the fight against AIDS with its old-testament evangelical superstitiously-based policies. The Salvation Army may be entitled to their beliefs, but Californians deserve to know what beliefs they are funding.

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 – the people’s behavior reflects their leader

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I was reading “this day in history” and I believe that today’s events can teach us a lot about how to achieve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

In 1978 Jim Jones’ cult committed mass suicide; in 1969 Kennedy’s Apollo 12 landed on the moon, and in 1863, Abraham Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address celebrating the end of the civil war and “a new birth of freedom.”

These three events would not have occurred without the participation of the people involved and the work of the leaders whose vision inspired them. Whether we are reaching for the stars, freedom for all, or something more sinister, the behavior of the people is simply a reflection of the leader.

If the people of California want to reward stable relationships with the stability of marriage, or if they want to punish lesbian and gay citizens by excluding them from matrimony, the choice is theirs. Which choice they make depends on the leader.

So my pursuit of life, liberty and happiness is in your hands, Governor. Are you going to play partisan politics with my relationship, or are you going to tell the people of California that freedom means freedom for everybody? History will not remember the people’s choice, but it could remember yours.

Yours,

Today’s letter – My Religious Belief

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I want to get married, but my quest is blocked by people quoting scripture and a Governor who appeases them. While the part of scripture they trumpet seems to admonish gay sex, another part of the bible tells a very different story about same-sex marriage.

The story of Ruth and Naomi, a same-sex couple, starts out with Naomi practically dead with grief and despair. Ruth resurrects her with a moving speech that includes the line you might have said at your own wedding: “till death do us part.” By the end of the story, Ruth and her “beard” Boaz have a child while the women of Bethlehem really know what’s going on, declaring that “a son has been born to Naomi.”

We can disagree about what the bible says about sex, but we cannot disagree about the message that God is sending us with the marriage of Ruth and Naomi: that love comes in many forms, and all loving couples deserve the freedom to marry. I wish you, as Governor, would get out of the way of my exercise of my beliefs and let me wed.

Yours,

Today’s letter – a right or a privilege

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Is marriage a right or a privilege?

If it is a right, why do I not have it?

If it is a privilege, what do I have to do to earn it?

Really, please Governor, why won’t you just let me get married?

Yours truly,

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 – What scares me

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Happy Halloween!

Our kids dressed as Chinese toys – a Jack-in-the-box and a little spinning top – and we parents dressed as toy makers with name tags that said “Project Lead” and “Lead Engineer”.

That’s what scares our kids. What scares me is that there are people who hate gay people so much that they are willing to single us out for special exclusion from the freedom to marry. These Opponents of Equality think nothing of human rights because they think we are less than human. That’s scary.

So what did your family dress as? Something scary to kids, or scary to adults?

Yours,

Today’s letter – your veto would be OK if you supported marriage

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I consider myself to be a good citizen, and I believe that all committed couples should have the same freedom to choose marriage. Why don’t you?

You vetoed AB 43 on a technicality, but you stopped short of saying that you wanted to sign the bill.

You said that you “support current domestic partnership rights” but you do not say that those rights should include marriage.

You have said that there is nothing wrong with being gay, but you have never said there is nothing wrong with gay marriage.

You didn’t have to sign AB 43 to support the freedom to marry, but failing to support the freedom to marry is supporting the freedom to discriminate.

That sends the wrong message to the courts and the people: that you believe their right to hate is more important than my right to love. That is not only bad leadership, it is bad citizenship.

Yours,

Today’s letter – charitable relief organizations serve at their pleasure

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

When wildfires strike, the last thing we want to worry about is keeping our family together. Unfortunately, charitable relief agencies have vastly different policies for dealing with “unmarried” family members.

When asked about “domestic partners” Stacey Grissom, media relations associate for the Red Cross, said “[the] Red Cross is a neutral and impartial organization and we help people who need help. So, we don’t help with regards to race, creed, color, religion and sexual orientation. We help people who need to be helped.” The Red Cross works with employers to locate information on victims’ nearest living relatives. “So in those cases where the next of kin is listed as a domestic partner, that would be a person who would definitely get benefits,” she said.

In contrast, The Salvation Army says “Where a man and a woman love each other, sexual intimacy is understood as a gift of God to be enjoyed within the context of heterosexual marriage. However, in the Christian view, sexual intimacy is not essential to a healthy, full, and rich life. Apart from marriage, the scriptural standard is celibacy.” In addition, the Salvation Army refuses to recognize its very own lesbian and gay employees with domestic partnership benefits, and has terminated services in areas where local statutes require this.

With one organization, my partner of ten years and our two kids are treated as a family. With the other, we are considered strangers without access to reunification services or the ability to shelter together.

The only way to end this discrimination is to eliminate the differentiation. It is too late for you to sign AB 43 but it is not too late for you to come out in support of the freedom to marry.

Yours,