Today’s letter – You don’t have to override the people to lead them

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

You vetoed AB 43 because you didn’t want to override the vote of the people. But you don’t have to override the people to lead them.

You could do a lot of good by teaching people what they should have learned in kindergarten: it is not acceptable to treat some people as though they are less human, less a part of society, or less worthy of a relationship than others.

Freedom ought to mean freedom for everybody. Please consider supporting my freedom to marry.

Yours,

Today’s letter – This joy remains tinged with sadness

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Next week, three generations of our family will gather around the dinner table: us, our newborn twins, and all four of our parents. It is amazing to watch our parents glow in the pride of their grandchildren – the first on both sides of the family.

Yet, this joy remains tinged with sadness. Unlike our parents, my fiancée and I are blocked from marriage. I am upset at being excluded from the time-tested security the law provides married couples, but what really makes me sad is that it deprives our parents of the hope of seeing their children’s wedding. All of the gratitude, joy and unqualified support that will be in that room that day are not going to create a world where we are free to marry.

We will be the only unwed couple at the table – the ones who had our kids out of wedlock – and until we can wed, we will always be thinking there is a small sense of shame when we – despite all our hard work – are grouped with Anna Nicole and Larry Birkhead as our parents shake their heads and cluck their tongues about the fallout from their unwed escapades.

I have been finding ways to convert the shame into anger, and I was surprised at how easy it is: we simply blame the fact that we are treated as less than equal, less perfect and less human than other couples directly on you, Governor.

You could have signed AB 849 in 2005; you could have signed AB 43 this past October; you could have said that you think all Californians should have the same freedom to marry. But you did none of those things.

It will take a lot more than you to spoil our Thanksgiving, but I don’t think I’m being greedy to say that I wish your support could have been one more thing for which to be thankful, rather than one more thing over which to shake our heads and cluck our tongues.

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 – What’s Wrong with San Francisco?

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

As a Californian who is proud of his state, I am embarrassed by what happened in Kentucky. In a last-ditch effort to get their candidate re-elected, The Republican Party paid Pat Boone to record a warning that if the Democrat nominee is elected Governor, the state will become an awful place, “like San Francisco.”

Of course, Kentucky could be so lucky as to have the thriving economy, tourism and world-class reputation of San Francisco, but Ernie Fletcher’s reelection campaign makes it sound otherwise.

In the recorded message, sent to registered Republicans by telephone, Mr. Boone explains that “Ernie Fletcher is a typical Kentuckian, he’s worked long and hard for the state, its people, and its traditions … and now he faces a man who wants his job who has consistently supported every homosexual cause: same-sex marriage, gay adoption, special rights to gay, lesbian, bisexual, even transgender individuals. … you [don’t] want a governor who’d like Kentucky to be like another San Francisco. Please reelect Ernie Fletcher.”

I don’t know why, in 2007, people still seem to think that personal liberty is a bad thing, or that equal rights are special rights, but San Francisco deserves better.

As a fellow Governor and Republican, could you have a chat with Ernie Fletcher? Maybe you could explain if he didn’t bash minorities and focused on what he could do for the people instead of against the people, he would not have lost by a landslide. In contrast, Ernie’s apparent nemesis, Mayor Gavin Newsom, even survived a major scandal and was reelected.

Perhaps the next time your Republican Party consultants want you to go negative on the homosexuals, you might remind them of what happens when people go anti-gay. We wouldn’t want San Francisco to become a Kentucky.

Faithfully Yours,

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?

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 – You can spin it however you like

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I’ve been following your political assent since you replaced Governor Davis, and I have no doubt that “Arnold Strong” can do whatever he wants to do regarding AB 43 and same-sex marriage in this state.

Here is what you told the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce on September 17:

“Whenever the people vote on something — in this case, Proposition 22 — then it ought to be the people that should have a choice to vote on it again and to change their mind. But it would be wrong for the people to vote for something, and for me to then overturn it. I don’t do that, I will not do it. And so they can send that bill down as many times as they want, I won’t do it.”

Now that’s a strong statement. So is this:

“A decision to veto this resolution would have been inconsistent with the values I have embraced over the past 30 years. I do believe that times have changed. And with changing time, and new life experiences, come different opinions. I think that’s natural, and certainly it is true in my case.”

That was San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders explaining his decision to support the freedom to marry this past Wednesday.

Everybody knows that you can spin this however you like. Whether you are overturning the supposed intent of mostly Republican voters seven years ago, or overturning the will of the people who elected the legislature knowing they would send you this bill, you are going to overturn the will of some people.

I wish you would support the people today instead of the Opponents of Equality and sign AB 43. That might take a change of heart, but it won’t take a change of your principle and promise to uphold the will of the people.

Sincerely,

Letter to Attorney General “Jerry” Brown – tell the Governor to sign AB 43

Attorney General’s Office
California Department of Justice
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550

September 18, 2007

Dear Attorney General Brown:

When you were Governor in 1977, you signed a law changing marriage in the State from “two persons” to “man and woman.”

The current legislature has asked your friend Governor Schwarzenegger to correct that law and extend the freedom to marry to all California couples through AB 43.

The Governor is using Proposition 22, a seven-year-old states-rights initiative that did nothing to change same-sex marriage, as an excuse to veto the new bill. In the meantime, states like Maryland are suddenly ruling that the legislature (not the Constitution) has the final say on marriage. This is some Proposition, this Proposition 22!

I wish you would talk to Governor Schwarzenegger and set him straight: he can and should sign AB 43 not only because the people (through the legislature) have asked him to do it, but because it’s the right thing to do.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – Extraordinary behavior in the People’s branch of government

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I don’t know if your realize how extraordinary it is for California to ask for same-sex couples to have the freedom to marry through the legislative branch of government.

From Hawaii to Iowa, state after state has ordered marriage equality through the judicial branch. Yet California’s legislature voted for marriage equality, was reelected by the people, and voted for it again.

Please don’t stand in the way of the People’s branch of government. Please sign AB 43 and let committed same-sex couples have the same access to the security of marriage that you and Maria enjoy.

Yours truly,