Today’s letter – Upgrading Domestic Partnerships

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

We’ve had AB 205, the Domestic Partnership law, here in California for long enough to know that it’s time to upgrade to proper marriage.

Case in point: Vermont has had Domestic Partnership since 2000. Legislators there are starting to say that it is time for a change – to marriage.

Just this week (with elections looming), Vermont House Speaker Gaye Symington said “I think for many Vermonters the question has been when, not so much as whether, we would eventually recognize same-sex union through marriage,” and Vermont Senate President Pro Tempore Peter Shumlin said, “I think now most Vermonters would acknowledge [Civil Unions] haven’t impacted their families in any way, shape or form.”

A January 2006 poll in Vermont found 53 percent of respondents favored replacing the “civil unions” with marriage. And that was eighteen months ago!

I’m tired of being behind the curve on civil liberty. I wish we had marriage parity in California like they have in Massachusetts, Canada and Spain – and soon perhaps Vermont. Please sign AB 43 and tell the people to say no to discrimination.

Yours,

Today’s letter – hate kills

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Opponents of AB 43 say that hating gay people is necessary to keep their kids from becoming gay. Apparently the terror of having the snot beaten out of them will discourage lusty thoughts.

We know the statistics: homophobia causes the teen suicide rate to be four times higher. 50% of gay teens suffer verbal or physical abuse at home. More than 16% of hate crimes are committed against gays. Hate is not a ‘deterrent to gayness.’ Rather it is hate, terror and murder.

The ban on gay marriage is pretty basic homophobia. Please sign AB 43 and support gay marriage so when they decide this issue, the people will have a leader who says “NO” to hate.

Truly,

Today’s letter – Marriage makes Cents

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I just read again today about how much it costs California to ban gays from marriage. There is the $16 Billion windfall in tourism and commerce, then an ongoing $24 Million each year by closing access to means-tested public benefits.

Granted, the numbers are a bit old: the $16 Billion is from a 2004 Forbes study and a lot of that windfall has already gone to Canada and Massachusetts; the $24 Million annual savings is from a pair of co-authored projects by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law and IGLSS also in 2004. But they have been backed up again and again, because they just make sense.

As a Republican governor, it is your duty to sign AB 43 and promote fiscal responsibility in our state by advocating marriage equality.

Many thanks,

Today’s letter – Alimony case shows two systems for marriage are irrational

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I’m writing to you today about the attached CNN article describing how Orange County resident Ron Garber must continue to pay alimony even though his ex-wife has entered a new legal relationship. The judge ruled that her domestic partnership is merely “cohabitation,” so Mr. Garber must continue to pay $1250 a month.

Mr. Garber now understands how confusing and unfair it is to have two sets of laws governing relationships in this state. As Governor, you have an opportunity to eliminate this apartheid and reduce the size of government at the same time.

Could you please consider signing AB 43 in order to send a highly visible message that what looks like marriage and quacks like marriage ought to be called marriage?

Many thanks in advance,

Today’s letter – More to Marriage than Man and Woman

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

A small but vocal minority have found a lucrative industry in convincing people that marriage is only between a man and a woman. They often forget the rest – that a marriage more importantly refers to two people in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law.

My own marriage – which is awkwardly called a ‘domestic partnership’ in California – bears this out. For us, getting married meant that we were bonded together for the rest of our lives, by family, law and God. My 80-year-old parents gave us both matching rings, and my 6-year-old niece drew us a picture of us together.

If two senior citizens and a child know that “man on woman” is a lie, why don’t you?

A marriage does not begin and end with “a man and a woman” in the real world, and it should not do so in California. Please sign AB 43 and help the people of California one step closer to realizing justice and equality.

Yours,

Today’s letter – Taking care of parents who take care of kids

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Through my parenting group, I know several gay couples who have adopted children that were either abused or unwanted.

I wish these foster parents could get married. It would provide a stronger legal framework and access to services; it would remove the stigma attached to any child who has unwed parents; and it would reward these families with the basic dignity that ‘domestic partnership’ can never deliver.

These kids deserve parents who are married. I wish you would sign AB 43 and help Californians say no to discrimination.

Many thanks in advance,

Today’s letter – Fear and Ignorance

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

The religious right is mounting a huge campaign to meddle with my family and block gay marriage for a very long time. Anybody with the brains God gave geese knows this is driven by fear and ignorance rather than an honest reading of The Bible. Anybody who has had an opportunity to know me and my family can tell you that there’s nothing wrong with gay marriage.

The problem is that a popular vote right now will turn out very poorly for California’s families. It will tell generations of kids that if they are gay, there is no hope. It will tell adults that it’s OK to harm homosexuals. And it makes life more difficult for my kids, and the kids of other gay and lesbian parents.

The Christian leadership has been tragically vocal on this issue, while our leadership has been silent. Letting the people decide based on the lies they have heard will harm many people for a very long time. I wish you would stand up for equality and tell the people what you think they should do about marriage. Please sign AB 43, for me, my kids, and all California.

Yours,

Today’s letter – Freedom

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,

Every day I thank God that I have the freedom to fall in love and start a family.

If we didn’t have Domestic Partnership in California, I wouldn’t be living here. Thank you for making sure that all Californians have at least those freedoms.

I wish you would sign AB 43, though, and then we wouldn’t need to beg and grovel for every little right that we’re tossed.

Legal marriage would make a huge difference to my family and hurt nobody. So please sign AB 43.

Truly yours,

Today’s letter – EDD Form DE1-HW

In order to (legally) employ a household worker (a nanny) we have to complete a California form DE1-HW Registration Form for Employers of Household Workers.

Section “E” of the form asks for the “Type of Organization” and offers the options of [_] INDIVIDUAL [_] HUS/WIFE [_] CORPORATION [_] OTHER ________.

When I called them (916) 654-7041 they said that I should check [_] OTHER and enter Domestic Partnership and they would enter it as HUS/WIFE anyway. I said no, I want a new form.

They said the form was last updated in October 2004 and the new forms are up-to-date. But the regular form DE 1 revision 72 from August 2006 has “Hus/Wife Co-ownership” which is even more offensive.

So here is my letter to the Governor for today:

RE: EDD Form DE1-HW

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,

I am attaching a communication that I have started with the California Employment Development Department asking for accommodation of my same-sex domestic partnership on the Registration Form for Employers of Household Workers form DE1-HW (attached). This is just one example of the scores of forms that offensively violate the constitutional ban on discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation. I need your help to make sure that the form gets fixed.

The form contains options for INDIVIDUAL, HUS/WIFE, CORPORATION and OTHER. Our household is not an OTHER; I do not feel comfortable revealing my sexual orientation on this form; and if I mark INDIVDUAL or HUS/WIFE, I cannot honestly sign the form.

I wish you would sign AB 43 into law so I can get married and we don’t have to play these games with forms. Until we can get married, I would like to ask you to ask the EDD to change these forms to conform with the Constitution and my need to have my government respect my basic dignity.

Thank you for your help,

I enclosed my note to the EDD:

RE: Form DE1-HW

I have attached a form DE1-HW obtained from the Internet. Section (E) provides options for several organization types including HUS/WIFE.

As an individual in a domestic partnership who is legally prevented from being “HUS/WIFE,” this form does not accommodate me as intended by constitutional prohibitions on discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation.

I don’t want to be a jerk about this, but marking [x] OTHER isn’t acceptable. The purpose of this form is not to reveal my sexual orientation but to describe the nature of the entity that is registering, which should be (by hard-won State law) indistinguishable to that of a legally married couple.

I would like to have a new form with the offensive language removed and replaced by your choice of either “SPOUSES” or “MARRIED/DOMESTIC PARTNERS.”

My intent isn’t to make more work for you, but just to make this form less offensive to me and my community. I would be happy to help you adjust it appropriately; please let me know how you would like to proceed.

Thank you,

Today’s letter – Wedding Day

Today’s letter was inspired by John Henning and Mike Roth’s documentary film Saving Marriage. In one scene, one of the heterosexual characters affected by marriage explains “my wedding was the most wonderful day of my life. It is the most wonderful day of most couples’ lives. Why would you ever take that away from people?”

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,

Do you remember the day you got married?

Why would you deny that to somebody else?

I wish you would sign AB 43 so the people will know that “California will not discriminate.”

I have attached a photo from our wedding day. Please consider what a veto on AB43 will do to my family.

Sincerely,