Today’s letter – No Papists

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

If you think the gays have it bad, did you know that England’s 1688 Bill of Rights prohibits heirs to the British throne from marrying a Catholic? As recently as 1978, the queen’s cousin Prince Michael of Kent was removed from the line of succession when he married Marie-Christine von Reibnitz.

Catholics make up about 8% of Britian’s population, but Prime Minister Gordon Brown pointed out that “in the 21st century, people do expect discrimination to be removed.”

Since the British head of state is also regent of 15 other nations including Canada, Australia, Jamaica and Barbados, changing the law is complicated since all would have to agree to the changes.

Yes, it is complicated, but what a relief to hear a politician talking about removing discrimination to boost their popularity. Maybe your Republicans should try it?

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – Mean People

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Bishop Gene Robinson is coming to visit our church this weekend, and pick up a GLAAD Media Award along the way.

Bishop Robinson was not allowed to participate in discussions at the Lambeth conference in England last summer. The organizers banned him from the buildings and church where the meeting was held.

“The level of exclusion took my breath away,” the bishop said, “but I was sustained by my belief that God has a plan that includes justice for everyone. No matter what crap goes on here, God wins.”

I too am confident that California will get past this hateful, hurtful apartheid imposed by Proposition 8.

I wish you would ask the people of California to join you in overcoming their prejudice and welcome their lesbian and gay neighbors as they would expect to be welcomed themselves. Anything less breaks the Golden Rule and shatters my faith in my Church, my Government and my fellow Californians.

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 – the cost of freedom

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Two million dollars a week for the next ten weeks. That is what the two sides in the gay marriage fight will be spending to either stop, or keep gay marriage in California.

Imagine how much good we could do with $20 million. My church, All Saints Beverly Hills, hosts 100 homeless people every Monday, sends children to visit their incarcerated parents on Mother’s day, rotates eight people through New Orleans, and operates ravenous family, mercy and justice ministries. Their entire 2008 budget would be gone in a week. Every penny raised by the Los Angeles AIDS Walk would be spent in two weeks. The entire annual budget of AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) would only last nine weeks.

I sometimes wonder if the gays would get more media by just taking the money sending it all to New Orleans. But then I think of the 50,000 domestic partners in California and how much less stress and worry they will have with the irreplaceable time-tested stability of marriage. And all California’s children, who will discover that their government supports their freedom to grow up and be who they are, and if they are lucky enough to find love, they can pursue it instead of celibacy, suicide or a vampire-like Larry Craig lifestyle.

Clearly, every penny we spend defending the freedom to marry is well spent.

Yours,

Today’s Stamp: “Mickey Mouse” from “The Art Of Disney: Magic” postage stamp series.
$20 million is 1/10th the annual budget of the Make-a-Wish Foundation of America.
$20 million is $1.25 from every visitor to Disneyland in Anaheim.
$20 million would fund the war in Iraq for two hours. .

Today’s letter – even Presbyterians can see the folly of exclusion

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I have written to you before about the rift over homosexuals in the Episcopal Church, but now it seems as though the Presbyterians are headed towards similar turmoil.

Lisa Larges is a deacon in San Francisco who is seeking ordination as a minister in the Presbyterian Church. The constitution of the church limits its clergy, elders and deacons to people in man-woman marriages or who are sexually abstinent; but it also has a policy of allowing exceptions for conscientious objectors.

Larges has called the special ban on gay clergy a “mar upon the church and a stumbling block to its mission” with enough conviction that the regional body of 77 churches voted last week to allow her third application to proceed by 167 to 151, and she will be interviewed in April.

She says “The church is a beautiful, messy thing. It’s about loving the church in spite of the church. It’s about being part of a movement to call the church back to its best self.”

If the Presbyterians can make an exception to their special ban on same-sex marriage, can’t you?

To borrow Ms. Larges’ words, depriving just some people of the ability to participate fully in our economy and society is a mar upon the state and a stumbling block to its mission of ensuring life, liberty, property and happiness for all. Governor – it’s time to call your state and your party back to its best self and support the freedom to marry.

Yours,

Today’s letter – Do Good Work

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Like many Californians, I’m not profoundly religious, and the Bible is a big puzzle. So I rely on people of faith to help me interpret that book.

The Most Reverend Jefferts Schori, a bishop of the Episcopal Church, told a congregation confused about the role of homosexuality in scripture that “Jesus didn’t say, ‘Sit there and throw words at each other,’ He said, ‘Get out there and heal the sick and help the poor.’ “

You know, she is right. You don’t get into heaven by punishing people here on earth. You get there by helping them.

I wish you and your Government would help couples like us get married, instead of punishing us for doing nothing wrong. Then you could focus on your budget and the churches could concentrate on helping people.

Yours,

Today’s letter – Not every Church hates the gays

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I am so proud of the Episcopal Church. In 2003, to underscore its belief that biblical teachings of tolerance and acceptance are paramount, they consecrated an openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. Now, the 2.2 million-member Episcopal Church may separate from the global Anglican community over the issue.

I am really touched that the Episcopal Church would risk so much for me when they don’t have to; I am thoroughly embarrassed that my Governor won’t lift a finger to protect me when it is arguably his Constitutional responsibility.

I think it is pathetic that you would use a seven-year-old law about states rights as an excuse to block my access to the same security and simplicity of marriage that you so blithely enjoy. Please sign AB 43 and show that you do in fact believe in the dignity and freedom of all Californians.

Sincerely,