Today’s letter – Stand up for tolerance

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Author Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson is a black conservative leader who believes that immorality and the collapse of the family are the biggest problems in the black community. How does he want to fix the problem? By blocking gay marriages.

Reverend Peterson has been spending the past decade fighting against same-sex marriage and gay hate crimes bills. Such legislation, apparently, gives special rights to homosexuals and takes away the rights of Christians, and fighting against other Americans is way more important to him than actually fixing the problems in his community.

“I can absolutely guarantee you that if [gay hate crimes] should pass, then it’s over for Christians,” he states. “We will not be able to speak out against homosexuality.”

Clearly, this guy is a whacko. His reasoning is faulty and his motivation is questionable. What puzzles me is why he is able to get your ear, Governor? Tell me – why are people like Reverend Peterson able to convince you and the Republican Assembly to deprive a group of people their liberty?

I wish you would stand up to bullies like Reverend Peterson, because while there ought to be room for belief in our society, there should be no allowance for intolerance.

Yours,

Today’s letter – Same is not a shame

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Last night a friend of mine made an interesting observation. He pointed out that traditionally, marriage has been about ‘sameness.’ Same religion, same interests, same city, same house, same race, same bed.

Why would it be so strange to also have the same sex? Wearing each others’ clothes is no longer ‘weird’ but rather efficient. Being able to use the same locker room at the gym is quite practical. Not having to worry about putting the toilet seat down is quite a peacemaker too.

They say that the exception proves the rule. Just like there are exceptions to sameness, there are exceptions to differences. Please, support the freedom for same-sex couples to make the same commitment of marriage that same-religion, same-location, same-interests, same-house, same-bed, same-race couples can – and do – make every day. Please support the freedom to marry.

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 – Slippery Slope or Final Step towards Freedom

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

It’s Elephant in the Room week. The first I would like to tackle is the “slippery slope.” In 2005 when I was calling your office to ask you to sign AB 849, the 2005 Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, one of your staffers said that “if gays can marry, there’s nothing to stop people from marrying their pets.” I was astonished that anybody would still think this way – but out of respect for their belief, I feel compelled to respectfully crush it.

There are many logical consequences of redefining marriage to accommodate a group, such as polygamy, incestuous marriages, marriages of convenience and human-animal marriage. This would be a concern – if we were redefining marriage.

But we’re not redefining marriage. We are simply ending the special exclusions that have been written into marriage over time, like we did with interfaith couples in 1905 and interracial couples in 1948, and we should do with sexual orientation.

Ever since Ruth and Naomi vowed “until death do us part,” marriage has always been just “an exclusive contractual relationship between two persons.” Pets, minors and multiple people are in no danger of entering into a contractual relationship now or ever.

What is far more dangerous – the real “slippery slope” – is creating the right to exclude groups from marriage. Once we start down this slope, we will quickly be able to ban foreigners, the elderly, prisoners, Protestants and Britney Spears. Some will argue that this might be a good idea, but that is a separate slope and a different discussion.

So you can see that allowing all couples access to marriage is not a march down a slippery slope, but simply the final step toward freedom. I wish you would get on board and support the freedom to marry instead of the right to discriminate.

Yours,

Today’s letter – Nature or Nurture, it’s Love

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I’ve only lived in California for eight years, and I love the state, but I believe it could be even better if same-sex couples had the same freedom to marry as everybody else.

Those who disagree with me have often said that they don’t want to reward a behavior, begging the question: is homosexuality genetic or learned?

The answer to that question is that it doesn’t matter. We used to have barriers to marriage that were based on race, and there are still churches that will not marry across faiths. In both cases our Government has had the wisdom to step out of the way of love.

It is time for Government to stop blocking same-sex couples who want to commit to marriage. Whether it’s nature – like race – or nurture – like religion – it is the same love that everybody else has. It should be treated the same way.

Please sign AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, not out of pity, but out of respect for people’s individual choices about who they love. That is the kind of state California is, and with your assent, can continue to be.

If you can take away marriage…

The subtitle of this blog is “If you can take away marriage, you can take away anything.”

What that means is that I don’t think that the Opponents of Equality are really targeting the Gays. I believe that they are a coalition of groups that have their eyes set at terminating loftier prizes: abortion, affirmative action, immigrants, Arabs, Jews, public schools, evolution – the list goes on.

Remember that these are the same people who argued for, and subsequently lost, the ability to prevent different races from sharing the same schools and to keep women from voting. I think that they are actually amazed that they are finally winning on an issue, and just a bit embarrassed that it is not from an ethical or moral high ground, but just really good PR.

The fact is that gay marriage is just a pawn in this game. Randy Thomason doesn’t give a toss about the gays, but the power and money he gets by terrorizing them will let him graduate to other sinister criminalizations. I don’t get the feeling that Governor Schwartzenegger is morally opposed to this bill – but the fact that he has the power to veto it gives him the ability to get other things.

Think of all the good stuff we could do with the money and energy that has been spent trying to make a group of people into second-class citizens. If we can take away marriage discrimination, we can take away all discrimination. Who would oppose that?