Today’s letter – Perry v. Schwarzenegger video feed

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,

In July of 2007 I wrote to you to ask you to sign AB 43, the bill that was heading to your desk that would have ended the segregation of same-sex and opposite-sex marriages in our state. When you vetoed it, you gave a bunch of excuses, especially saying that you had to veto it, or you would be sued.

Well, now you’re being sued. Perry v. Schwarzenegger is hearing arguments tomorrow – broadcast to all the world – about whether you can enforce a law that breaks generations of a most sacred traditional value: that every citizen is entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

You refused to step in to stop the Opponents of Equality from redefining equality in our state. You failed to protect me and my children from the tyranny of the majority. And you were a poor steward of the Constitution that generations of Californians used to define fairness and equality, from those that would take it away.

So we went over your head. Now the Federal courts will decide if you can reach into the population and carve out a group of people, and assign them different rights because of the way they were born or what they believe.

It is sad that it has come to this: it is much more important to have the majority of Californians support marriage equality than to have a law about it. You could have helped, but now you’re being sued. Hurray for justice.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – jury of my peers

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

This is Jury Appreciation Week, which I discovered when I was called in for jury duty.

The jurors on my panel were asked to state the occupation of their spouse or significant other. Most people answered “my husband,” “my wife,” “my fiancée” or “I’m single.”

Thanks to the California Supreme Court I was able to answer the question simply, using the term “my husband.” Everybody knew the nature of my relationship and understood the commitment that I had made.

Because of your 2007 veto of AB 43 (The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act) and the ensuing Proposition 8, other Californians who were not able to get married during 2007 are denied the opportunity to call their most significant significant other their “husband” or “wife.”

I wish we lived in a state where two adults who are willing and able to marry are not blocked by their government from marrying each other.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – A mostly good year

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Equality California released their 2008 Legislative Scorecard last week. I was elated to see your signature on so many pieces of EQCA-sponsored legislation.

I particularly want to applaud you for signing AB 3015 Foster Youth School Safety Education to protect students from bias-motivated harassment and discrimination by educating foster caregivers about the law.

If something should happen to me and my husband, I would want to make sure that the people who would be taking care of my kids will provide them the support and information they need about their gay dads, and protect them from bullying from other children because of their parents.

Hate is taught; this is one step towards un-teaching it.

Thank you for doing the right thing on AB 3015 and the other EQCA-sponsored bills. You’ve come a long way for a Republican who only last year vetoed AB 43 the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act of 2007, a simple human-rights bill that would have made most of these bills unnecessary or redundant.

I hope in 2009 you work towards eliminating the need for these bills by supporting full marriage equality in the State of California.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – an open letter asking for your help

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Equality California and the Let California Ring campaign are collecting signatures on an open letter asking you to address the California Supreme Court during oral arguments on the constitutionality of gay marriage this Spring.

As a defendant in the matter, and a proponent of “the dignity of every Californian,” you have an opportunity to speak directly to the judges about the expensive folly of excluding same-sex couples from participation in the economy and society.

If you were truly handcuffed into vetoing AB 43, a bill brought to you by the people through their elected representatives, now is your chance to make things right.

Strong families and individual choice are the cornerstone of California’s economy and your political party. I just want the government to support my choice to form and keep strong families through marriage.

Yours,

Today’s letter – Upholding the Constitution is not optional

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

When you vetoed AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, you said that you couldn’t sign it because it would have been illegal and you would have gone to jail.

I believe you committed a more criminal act by failing to uphold the Constitution to which you swore allegiance. The Constitution, as you know, says that you are not supposed to pick out a whole group of people because of what they believe or how they were born, and force them to follow a different set of laws than everybody else.

You should have signed AB 43 because it was the right thing to do, and if you went to prison for following your Constitution obligation to protect Californians from discrimination for their religion, gender or sexual orientation, that too would be the right thing to do.

Martin Luther King Jr. explains:

“I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.”

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

“Now, I say to you today my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: – ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

It is too late for you to sign AB 43, but it is not too late for you to end your silence and protect the Constitution by saying everybody deserves the same freedom to marry.

Yours,

Today’s letter – who TO marry, not who CAN marry

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

When you vetoed AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, you said that the people should decide the future of gay marriage.

What you should have said is that the people should be able to decide who they want to marry for themselves.

You see, your version takes away the most intimate decision from people and puts it in the hands of the state, my version takes away that very personal decision from Sacramento and puts it in the hands of the people who would be actually getting married.

Please tell the people of California that you made a mistake – it is the power to decide who to marry, not the power to decide who can marry, that should be in the hands of the people.

Yours,

Today’s letter – an exception of mercy and compassion

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

As Governor of California, could you make an exception to the law so that my fiancée and I can get married?

We are both outstanding citizens, we have lived together for ten years, and in California for more than eight. Our newborn children bear both our names. We are good, faithful, committed Christians. We would be readily able to provide you with testimonials from all four of our parents, the ministers at our Church and the Godparents of our children – anything you need to convince yourself that we are worthy and capable of marriage.

Just like you can pardon felons and intervene in death row cases – and just like you were able to veto the law that would have let us wed – you must also have the power to say “there is no state interest served by keeping these people apart.”

If you’re going to support a special exclusion from liberty for people based on their gender and your religion, you must also be able to let us wed. Won’t you do at least that, for the best of your people?

Yours,

Today’s letter – Trout get more respect

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Happy New Year!

I was just reading through all the new laws going into effect this year and noticed such things as:

Tanning booths: To address concern about skin cancer, changes the parental consent law for minors, ages 14 to 18, who patronize businesses using ultraviolet tanning devices so that such consent must be provided in person.

Trout protection: Declares state policy to discourage the release of hatchery-raised hybrid and nonnative fish species in waters set aside by the government for wild trout.

Witness protection: Gives the state attorney general authority to coordinate with and reimburse local agencies that provide protection to those testifying against gang members.

If we can have laws protecting teens, criminals and fish, why can’t we have a law protecting my belief that I should be able to marry the person that I love?

Sometimes I think you have more respect for trout than you have for gay people.

Yours,

Today’s letter – Silently tolerating nonsense

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I like you because you’re a non-nonsense kind of guy. You drive a hummer and smoke cigars regardless of what people say. And just as effectively as you enjoy your own freedoms, you usually defend those of Californians. I would have even voted for you – except for one strange thing: you consistently and mysteriously block same-sex couples from having the freedom to marry.

There were many occasions when you could have stepped up and said something in support of this freedom. Way back when Proposition 22 was just a gleam in Pete Knight’s eye, you could have said “people should be able to do what they want” in the context of gay marriage instead of gay sex. When I was married in San Francisco in 2004 you could have said “we ought to change things so these people can get married legally” instead of just smacking down with the law. When the people and legislature asked you to sign AB 849 in 2005 and AB 43 in 2007, you could have said “I regret having to veto the bill.” Instead you gleefully sent it – and my freedom – back to ground zero.

Thousands of same-sex couples are just trying to make the same commitment of marriage you and Maria were free to make. Why do you tolerate the nonsense of domestic apartheid? Why do you stand silent while freedoms are being trampled?

I really expected more from you.

Yours,

Today’s letter – Hate costs Dough

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I wrote to you in July as an angry taxpayer about the cost of limiting marriage to heterosexual couples as revealed by The Williams Institute at UCLA.

Their recent analysis for Maryland revealed that their 8,000 same-sex couples, if married, would attract about $100 million of spending and $14 million in tax revenue EACH YEAR.

By comparison, their 2004 analysis of California showed that the 1977 ban on marriage costs us $16 Billion in spending and $25 million in tax revenue EACH YEAR.

As a taxpayer, I sure could use a slice of that dough, but as a gay man I would rather have the freedom to get married.

Whether it is fiscal responsibility, or just the right thing to do, I wish you would end your support of the costly ban on gay marriage and instead support the freedom to marry for all Californians.

Yours,