Today’s letter – divided a little less

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I am so happy that the State Supreme Court made an enlightened ruling guided by Republican judges that cannot be overturned except by changing our very Constitution to specifically Limit Marriage.

Our forefathers thought that religious and personal freedom was important enough to put into the Constitution, and taking it out doesn’t seem like something that would help anybody.

But the nation is horribly divided. One side says that their religion doesn’t allow for my gay marriage; the other says that the Constitution doesn’t allow one group of people to be plucked out and treated differently just because of what they think or believe.

A divided house is particularly precarious. Divided, we will fall. Abraham Lincoln said “I do not expect this house to fall, but I do expect it to cease to be divided.” That is what the Supreme Court did – they forced us to unite.

Aldous Huxley wrote in “Antic Hay” back in 1923 “Liberty? Why it doesn’t exist. There is no liberty in this world, just gilded cages.” The Supreme Court made my cage a lot prettier; the upcoming Amendment reminds me that it is merely a cage.

Thank you, Governor, for fighting against this amendment. It makes the cage of liberty a little bit bigger, and that is a good thing for us and for America.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – history remembers the liberators, not the oppressors

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

History remembers the agents of change. History – for example – remembers Lincoln who freed the slaves. It does not remember the guy before Lincoln who fought for slavery. It remembers Reagan who tore down the Berlin wall. Not so much the guy before him. It remembers Susan B. Anthony who got women to vote, not whomever (Liddy Dole?) who opposed it.

How do you think history is going to remember you, Governor? Do you think you’ll be on a coin or a stamp for vetoing AB 43, the 2007 bill that would have let me and my same-sex domestic partner finally get married? Or do you think that it will be the next person, the one who finally replaces you and banishes that apartheid who will be immortalized?

It is not too late for you to work toward freedom to marry for all Californians instead of simply – and insignificantly – against it. I wish you would support the freedom to marry.

Yours,

Today’s letter – Leviticus or Sermon on the Mount?

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Somebody asked me the other day who the gays want for President. Hillary Clinton has been the long-time favorite because of her support of New Yorkers at pride events and legislation to help stop AIDS.

I think the gays should look seriously at a different contender. Senator Obama has elegantly differentiated himself from Senator Clinton by directly addressing the problem of the religious divide in this country. He has also differentiated himself from Senator McCain by trying to heal that divide instead of exploiting it.

There is one theme in the Senator’s speeches that has resurfaced again and again, that we are a religious nation, but we embrace tolerance and inclusion, not hatred and violence.

On June 28, 2006, the Senator asked “which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount?”

During the HRC/Logo debate on August 20 of last year. Senator Obama said “There are people who recognize that if we’re going to talk about justice and civil rights and fairness, that should apply to all people, not just some. And there are some folks who coming out of the church elevated one line in Romans above the Sermon on the Mount. … It is unfortunate. It’s got to stop.”

That, Governor, is the kind of leadership that transcends party lines; it means Senator Obama “gets it.” It is what I would expect to hear from Kennedy, Carter or Lincoln.

I wish I could hear it from you. Please, Governor, lead the people away from divisive politics, and ask them to stop blocking same-sex couples from marriage. We need more Lincolns.

Yours,

Today’s letter – What would Lincoln do?

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Today is, of course, Abraham Lincoln’s 199th birthday and the start of a two-year bicentennial celebration. I understand that presidents are a sore subject for you since you are specially banned from being President simply because of where you were born – but maybe that will give you some sympathy for what I am about to propose.

There is a great deal of debate about Lincoln’s life: where he was actually born, whether he was actually against slavery, whether he was gay or straight – but there is little debate about what he would think of today’s fashion of removing from people the freedom to marry.

There is no question that same-sex couples operate on a different level in this country with regards to marriage. The country is divided, and as Mr. Lincoln pointed out, this is not a stable situation. A house divided, falls, but “I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided.” (1858)

The modern Republican sooths his soul by pointing out that all the same rights of marriage can be metered out by civil unions and some good lawyers, and anyways, gay people can get married as long as it is to a person of the opposite sex.

Of course, being able to marry the person of your choice is a lot different than being able to marry. Lincoln said “I do not understand that because I do not want a Negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife.” (1863)

And having a “middle ground” of domestic partnership as a substitute for marriage is also awkward. Mr. Lincoln famously asked an opponent in a debate “If we call its tail a leg, then how many legs does a dog have?” The reply was “Five.” Mr. Lincoln, delighted, said, “No, it is four. Just because you call a tail a leg doesn’t make it so.” Clearly, a marriage by any other name is not the same.

So how are we to unite this house? We must choose to either permanently deny same-sex couples of the freedom to marry, or treat all men (and presumably women) equally and fairly under the law.

“We have, as all will agree, a free Government, where every man has a right to be equal with every other man. In this great struggle, this form of Government and every form of human right is endangered if our enemies succeed.” (1864)

Who are those ‘enemies?’ To answer that question, we need only examine how Mr. Lincoln elevated the Golden Rule, such as in this letter to Henry Pierce: “This is a world of compensations; and he who would be no slave, must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.” (1859)

Would you, Governor, dare to tell a couple they cannot marry because one person is not born in the same country as another? Or because they espouse different political parties? Your own marriage to Maria Shriver (an Amercian, Kennedy & Democrat) is based on those contrivances – and yet in telling some people they must access the time-tested social and legal structure of marriage through some second-rate institution, you reverse the divine rule to do unto others as you would like done to you.

Let me conclude the same way Mr. Lincoln concluded his Address at Cooper Union in 1860: with an admonishment to reject apartheid because it yields no path to freedom.

“Let us be diverted by none of those sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so industriously plied and belabored – contrivances such as groping for some middle ground between the right and the wrong, vain as the search for a man who should be neither a living man nor a dead man – such as a policy of “don’t care” on a question about which all true men do care – such as Union appeals beseeching true Union men to yield to Disunionists, reversing the divine rule, and calling, not the sinners, but the righteous to repentance – such as invocations to Washington, imploring men to unsay what Washington said, and undo what Washington did.”

It is not an accident that Log Cabin Republicans choose the founder of the GOP as their icon. They are not aligning themselves with Mr. Lincoln’s sexuality, they are aligning themselves with the concept that after freedom itself, the greatest blessing of civic life is the opportunity to marry the person you love.

Governor, if Abraham Lincoln were alive today, what do you think he would tell you to do about same-sex marriage?

“Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.”

Please, do your duty, protect the Constitution and give us all the same freedom – the freedom to marry.

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 – Lincoln vs. Douglas

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Abraham Lincoln constantly ranks among the three top U.S. presidents. Before he became president, though, he spent a lot of time arguing against a guy named Stephen A. Douglas.

Senator Douglas believed that in a democracy the people should have the right to decide whether or not to allow slavery in their territory, rather than have such a decision imposed on them by Congress. Each state would decide if they were a “free” state or a “slave” state.

Lincoln said about the act, “I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it…enables the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, to taunt us as hypocrites [and] causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity, and especially because [it insists] that there is no right principle of action but self-interest.”

In his election bid for Senator, Lincoln identified the problem with giving states the right to discriminate: “‘A house divided against itself cannot stand.'(Mark 3:25) I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.”

Lincoln won more popular votes, but Douglas won more seats and was elected to Congress.

Just so the metaphor is not lost on you, Governor, gay marriage is a battle just like slavery was 150 years ago. Whether through states rights or a Constitutional amendment, making some people more free than others only makes us all half-free. The only way to achieve freedom for all is to give all the freedom to marry.

That freedom must start at home. Please, make California a free state and support the freedom to marry.

Yours,