Today’s letter – if we are going to give “marriage” to the churches, we should at least charge a billiion dollars for it

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

There are some who are calling for the end of marriage in California. Let the churches decide who can marry, they say, and have the state call all registered partnership commitments “Civil Unions.”

I think this is a dumb idea. While it addresses the short-term problem Proposition 8 introduced – a class of citizens who cannot get married and group of churches that cannot perform the act their faith demands – getting rid of “marriage” would recklessly surrender the word “marriage” to the church.

If we are going to give the word to the churches, we should at least get something for it. A billion dollars would go a long way towards balancing the budget.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – when Athiests can marry but I can’t, it proves neither Mormons nor Papists own the word “marriage”

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

In California we seem to be stuck in a world with marriages for some couples and civil unions for others. This seems to be an accommodation to religious groups who somehow feel entitled to own the word “marriage” and define it for themselves.

But religion does not own the word marriage. When two atheists of opposite genders get married, by a judge in a courthouse, it is still legally called a marriage, not a civil union. The word “marriage” Is owned by the state, and as a citizen I demand to be able to use it.

Once Californians admit that everybody deserves the same rights regardless of their gender, religion and sexual orientation, the segregation between marriage and domestic partnerships becomes instantly absurd. California crossed that line in 1999.

Those who support a system that surrenders the word “marriage” to the Mormons and the Papists are as reprehensible as the apartheid they support.

Governor, I wish you would apologize for vetoing AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act that would have legalized gay marriage through the legislature. I wish you would speak out against those who are stealing state property and using it for their own religious agenda. I wish you would make the GOP get rid of Michael Steele so Republicans can once again represent America’s promise of freedom and dignity, instead of some warped version of theocracy.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – Arrest California

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I have a civics question for you. Who is responsible for making sure that California follows its own laws?

The reason that I’m asking is because California seems to be breaking the law by issuing marriage licenses, and I can’t remember from high school who is supposed to fix that. As you know, The California Supreme Court ruled last June that we cannot issue marriage licenses to one group of people and not to another. And then Proposition 8 passed that said that we can’t issue marriage licenses to one group of people.

It seems to me that California ought to stop issuing marriage licenses to everybody – same-sex and opposite-sex couples alike. It is the only thing that is fair.

The people have said that Domestic Partnership is good enough, right? So who is supposed to get California to follow her laws?

Thank you in advance for your help,

Today’s letter – Religious Mailbag

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I got a really nice note from a reader who saw my posting about The Book of Ruth and how Ruth’s relationship with Naomi inspired her like it inspired me.

You may recall that Ruth and Naomi promised to love and protect each other, “’till death do we part” and wound up having a son together.

“PhourQ” writes “I believe the story of Ruth and Naomi was an answer I received when praying about this issue. I’m glad others are seeing it too.”

That seemed so concise and spiritual that I needed to share. This is relevant to the governorship because it is evidence that there are many Californians who believe, as I do, that marriage is intended to unite two people for mutual joy, comfort in adversity and to raise children in the Church. Without pronouns!

“PhourQ” goes on to say “If people want to argue that the 10 commandments still stand in order to receive salvation, then it’s funny to see people try to wiggle homosexuality into the 10 commandments…it’s just not there.”

Governor, you do not have to advocate for same-sex marriage because of gay rights, you can advocate for same-sex marriage for religious freedom. The way I read our Constitution, you have to.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – Shouldn’t Churches Decide

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

The biggest arguments I’ve been in about same-sex marriage have hinged on what the bible says about same-sex relationships. Apparently not even the churches can decide!

Some, like the Episcopal Church, believe that all God’s children should be able to participate in the rites of the Church. Others, like the Catholic Church, decided that gay people are not worthy of the rites of ordination and marriage.

When St. James Anglican Church in Newport Beach had to choose between “treat thy neighbor as thyself” and “I’m better than the gays,” they decided to leave the Episcopal Church. Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled that St. James cannot violate the beliefs of the Church, and take the property of the Church with them.

St. James is the exception that proves the rule: freedom of religion demands freedom to marry. The Supreme Court realizes this, the legislature realizes this, and the churches realize this. Why does our government continue to block my freedom to believe, and my freedom to marry?

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – the Christian thing to do

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I know that you aren’t supposed to be mixing religion and government, but since this whole “Limit on Marriage” thing comes out of a strange interpretation of the bible and a government-sponsored intolerance for religious beliefs, I wish you would consider how the church is embracing this decision as it relates to your public policy. It is, as Rev. Mark Hallahan pointed out, “the most important issue to face the church since slavery.”

The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, issued this unequivocal statement:

Today’s Supreme Court decision on same-gender relationships is important because it reflects our baptismal vow to “strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being” and our commitment to justice and mercy for all people.

I celebrate and give thanks for this decision of the court and look forward with joy and excitement to a future of justice and mercy for all people in the State of California and the Episcopal Church.

To paraphrase St. Paul, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, gay nor straight in Jesus Christ our Lord.

J. Jon Bruno
Bishop of Los Angeles

Far from forcing churches to perform ceremonies, this decision lets churches that believe in the dignity of every human being exercise their religious freedom and perform the ceremonies. In a brilliant example of “practice what you preach” All Saints’ Pasadena is opening their doors to marriage and will perform their first same-sex wedding on June 18.

I wish you had signed AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, when it was on your desk. I hope now you understand why the courts are forcing you to do the American and Christian thing, and support the freedom to marry.

Sincerely,

Today’s stamp: “Iron Man” from the Marvel Comics Super Heroes Collection. Iron Man used an accident as an opportunity to don an impenetrable shell of iron and change from advocating injustice into a knight fighting against it.

Today’s letter – bigot begone!

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Eddie Walker, the principal of Irmo High School in Columbia, S.C., announced he will resign from his post after the district approved a gay-straight alliance that supposedly conflicts with his religious beliefs. “Allowing the formation of this club on our campus conflicts with my professional beliefs and religious convictions,” Walker wrote in his resignation.

The club provides support for gay, lesbian and straight students from an often hostile school environment. Reports show that in 2007, 31 percent of gay students were threatened or injured and 18 percent were physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation. The Lexington-Richmond School District could not stop the club from forming because of federal law prohibiting a club from being banned because of religious bias.

“We truly believe it is unfortunate that this principal cannot see the immense harm that is caused when a social climate of rejection, condemnation and violence is justified with misguided religious belief,” said Brent Childers, executive director of Faith in America.

California law now bans prohibiting individuals from getting married because of religious bias. There will undoubtedly be some people who will resign from the County Clerks offices because they are unwilling to uphold the law. When that happens, we must simply remember what President Eisenhower said when he considered ending the traditional segregation of the blood supply into “Colored,” “White–Hebrew,” and “White-Christian” in 1950. The Red Cross told him that the South wouldn’t accept “mixed blood.” Eisenhower replied “then the South will not get any blood!” and issued an executive order ending the practice.

If Eddie Walker doesn’t want a gay-straight alliance at his school, then he is free to leave. “Those who deny freedoms to others deserve them not for themselves.”

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – a sad world without any marriage

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

My sister-in-law lives in Germany. There, gay or straight, everybody gets “civil unions” in the eyes of the state. The churches are left to themselves to decide who they will marry in their ceremonies and bless with the word “marriage.”

I went to college in Canada. Whether gay or straight, there everybody gets “married” in the eyes of the state. The churches are left to themselves to decide who they will marry in their ceremonies and bless with the word “marriage.”

I live in the United States. Here, the government reserves marriage for heterosexual couples and “civil unions” for same-sex couples. The churches are prevented from deciding who they will marry in their ceremonies and blocked from blessing them as “marriage.”

Around the world, from Armenia to Uruguay, government after government is realizing that one way or another, marriage apartheid must end. Abraham Lincoln said “a house divided cannot stand” and we are unquestionably divided.

I wish we would follow Canada’s lead and let everybody get married instead of abolishing it. Marriage is the only time-tested social and legal framework that exists to unite two families – and I’ve always dreamed of getting married, not “civil unioned.”

But I predict that the way this pitched battle will play out in America will be much sadder. Instead of giving everybody the freedom to marry, we will eventually give nobody the freedom to marry.

The end result will be the same: the state will get out of the way of deciding if and who will marry, and leave that intimidate decision to the individuals involved. I will have no trouble finding a church to bless my union, but generations of Americans straight and gay will miss the opportunity to have their government bless their marriage as well.

Yours,

Today’s letter – here is what you could say

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

As you approach the deadline for acting on legislation from this fiscal year, I thought I might help out by writing a message for you to use in relation to AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act.

I was careful to address your objections in the past as well as the ultimate issue of using mere laws – even voter initiatives – to override the Constitution.

My fellow Californians.

I said that I would veto AB 43 because I believe the courts and the people should decide the fate of marriage in this state. I also said that lesbian and gay couples are entitled to full protection under the law and should not be discriminated against based upon their relationships. Up to now, I had seen these as being in contradiction to each other, but I have come to realize that it is not possible to treat these couples fairly while blocking them from marriage.

The people have made it clear through their elected representatives and the State Constitution that they do not tolerate discrimination in any form. Statutes passed by the legislature and even by voter initiatives are not able to create discrimination without changing the Constitution.

I also said that I would veto AB 43 because I lacked the authority to reverse an initiative approved by the people of California. I am not seeking that authority because I do not intend to reverse an initiative statute.

The initiative statute passed by the voters as Proposition 22 in 2000 enacted California Family Code Section 308.5 relating to marriages performed in other jurisdictions. It did not change the Constitution.

AB 43 changes Sections 300 and 302 of the California Family Code to say that a marriage is a contractual relationship between two persons. This is the original language of the Family Code prior to a legislative statute passed in 1977. It makes no changes to the implementation or enforcement of section 308.5.

AB 43 also provides for the free exercise of religion by institutions who believe in performing marriages of same-sex couples. Article I, section 4 of the California Constitution guarantees free exercise and enjoyment of religion without discrimination or preference, and as I explained earlier, Proposition 22 did not amend the Constitution.

Structures such as Domestic Partnerships and Civil Unions, which I have supported in the past, are undermining marriage by providing a way for couples to cohabitate without making the commitment of marriage. Proposition 22 was passed to defend marriage as an institution, not to defend it against some kind of invader. We can not protect marriage by excluding people who want to support it, or by creating imaginary enemies to keep out. These tactics divide us and weaken our ability to face the real problem. The best way to follow the intent of Proposition 22 is to provide one set of laws governing relationships in this state and providing universal access to them.

The courts and the people will have their say. The issue regarding the constitutionality of section 308.5 and its prohibition against recognizing same-sex marriages performed elsewhere is currently before the Court of Appeal in San Francisco and will likely be decided by the Supreme Court. Likewise, if the people want to exclude certain families from the security of marriage, they will need to pass a Constitutional amendment to do that. In the meantime, it is wrong to deny any citizen the freedom to marry, and just as wrong for me to block this bill.

I intend to uphold the Constitution of this state and the will of the people as expressed through their elected representatives by signing this bill into law.

The tide is turning, Governor. Do you want to be on the side supporting love, or the side supporting hate? Please sign AB 43 and support the freedom to marry.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – Lessons from Canada

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

As you consider your position on AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, you might like to hear from some people I consider to be real leaders, in a situation very similar to yours.

Starting in 2003, Canada’s most senior leaders steadily argued for “marriage” before adopting a Federal law in 2005. Their comments were critical for taking the people from being sharply divided on the issue to becoming overwhelming supporters for total marriage equality.

If people want to do something and it doesn’t hurt other people, doesn’t reduce other people’s rights, we should let them do it. Why not?

– Canadian Defense Minister John McCallum, August 13, 2003

My responsibility as Prime Minister, my duty to Canada and to Canadians, is to defend the Charter in its entirety. Not to pick and choose the rights that our laws shall protect and those that are to be ignored. Not to decree those who shall be equal and those who shall not.

– Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, February 1, 2005

I’m a Catholic and I’m praying. But I am the prime minister of Canada …I’m acting as a person responsible for the nation. The problem of my religion – I deal with it in other circumstances.

– Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, August 13 2003

Many Canadians will want to accept both of these principles: protect the traditional definition of marriage and protect the rights of minorities…. We cannot have it both ways. We must make a choice between traditional marriage and the protection of minority rights.

– Canadian Minister of National Revenue John McCallum, March 21, 2005

[S]ome have counseled the government to extend to Gays and Lesbians the right to civil union. This would give same-sex couples many of the rights of a wedded couple, but their relationships would not legally be considered marriage. In other words, they would be equal, but not quite as equal as the rest of Canadians. …[S]eparate but equal is not equal.

– Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, February 1, 2005

Less than equal is less than adequate. To create another institution [such as civil unions] just contributes to the fact that we would tell those members of the gay and lesbian community that they are not entirely part of our society. Why wouldn’t they be part of marriage?

– Canadian Justice Minister Martin Cauchon, August 13, 2003

If a prime minister and a national government are willing to take away the rights of one group, what is to say they will stop at that? How can we as a nation of minorities ever hope, ever believe, ever trust that [the constitution] will be there to protect us tomorrow?

– Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, February 1, 2005

We won’t be appealing the recent decision on the definition of marriage. Rather, we’ll be proposing legislation that will protect the right of churches and religious organizations to sanctify marriage as they define it. At the same time, we will ensure that our legislation includes and legally recognizes the union of same-sex couples.”

– Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, June 16, 2003

We embrace freedom and equality in theory, Mr. Speaker. We must also embrace them in fact.

– Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, February 1, 2005

I hope you take these to heart and lead the people the right way. Please start by advocating AB 43 and showing, in fact, that you believe in equality.

Sincerely,