Letter to Vermont Governor Jim Douglas – Republicans Change

Governor Jim Douglas
109 State Street, Pavilion
Montpelier, VT 05609-0101

April 4, 2009

RE: Civil marriage bill S.115

Dear Governor Douglas,

When I heard that you were planning to veto the civil marriage bill S. 115, I recalled that many other Republicans have had a change of heart about this issue. Maybe it’s not too late for you.

We all know about Vice President Dick Cheney’s quote ”freedom means freedom for everyone,” John McCain stating that “The constitutional amendment [banning gay marriage] strikes me as antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans,” and San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders who refused “to tell an entire group of people in our community they were less important, less worthy or less deserving of the rights and responsibilities of marriage than anyone else.”

Even California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has said that he would have signed our version of S. 115 if it was legally possible for him to do so.

I wish you would do the Republican thing: get Government out of our personal lives. Make Government smaller. Let individual people make individual decisions. And sign S. 115.

Sincerely,

Letter to Vermont Governor Jim Douglas – Righteous Republicans

Governor Jim Douglas
109 State Street, Pavilion
Montpelier, VT 05609-0101

April 3, 2009

RE: Civil marriage bill S.115

Dear Governor Douglas,

The mayor of San Diego was about to veto a bill very similar to S. 115, a statement in support of same-sex marriage in California. He wound up signing it. He said:

For three decades, I have worked to bring enlightenment, justice and equality to all parts of our community. As I reflected on the choices that I had before me last night I could just not bring myself to tell an entire group of people in our community they were less important, less worthy or less deserving of the rights and responsibilities of marriage than anyone else simply because of their sexual orientation.

It is not too late for you to consider what message you are sending if you veto S. 115. I would be disappointed if you chose to tell some Vermonters that they are less deserving of their religious freedom simply because of their sexual orientation.

Sincerely,

Attachment: Mayor Sanders’ statement

Mayor Jerry Sanders’ Statement on the City Council Resolution Supporting Same Sex Marriage

“With me this afternoon is my wife, Rana.

“I am here this afternoon to announce that I will sign the resolution that the City Council passed yesterday directing the City Attorney to file a brief in support of gay marriage.

“My plan, that has been reported publicly, was to veto the resolution, so I feel like I owe all San Diegans right now an explanation for this change of heart. During the campaign two years ago, I announced that I did not support gay marriage and instead supported civil unions and domestic partnerships.

“I have personally wrestled with that position ever since. My opinions on this issue have evolved significantly, as I think the opinions of millions of Americans from all walks of life have. In order to be consistent with the position I took during the mayoral election, I intended to veto the Council resolution. As late as yesterday afternoon, that was my position.
“The arrival of the resolution, to sign or veto, in my office late last night forced me to reflect and search my soul for the right thing to do. I have decided to lead with my heart, to do what I think is right, and to take a stand on behalf of equality and social justice. The right thing for me to do is to sign this resolution.
“For three decades, I have worked to bring enlightenment, justice and equality to all parts of our community. As I reflected on the choices that I had before me last night, I just could not bring myself to tell an entire group of people in our community they were less important, less worthy or less deserving of the rights and responsibilities of marriage, than anyone else — simply because of their sexual orientation.

“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.

“Two years ago, I believed that civil unions were a fair alternative. Those beliefs, in my case, have since changed. The concept of a “separate but equal” institution is not something that I can support.

“I acknowledge that not all members of our community will agree or perhaps even understand my decision today. All I can offer them is that I am trying to do what I believe is right. I have close family members and friends who are members of the gay and lesbian community. Those folks include my daughter Lisa, as well as members of my personal staff. I want for them the same thing that we all want for our loved ones, for each of them to find a mate whom they love deeply and who loves them back, someone with whom they can grow old together and share life’s experiences. And I want their relationships to be protected equally under the law. In the end, I couldn’t look any of them in the face and tell them that their relationships — their very lives — were any less meaningful than the marriage that I share with my wife Rana. Thank you.”

Today’s letter – Sons, daughters and legacy

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Like you, I’m a dad who wants the best for his kids – both now, and in their adult lives. While my kids are no less likely to be gay because they have gay parents, the well-publicized research of Psychologist Anthony Bogaert indicates that your son Christopher is twice as likely to be gay as your son Patrick. As a public figure, do you plan to let your childrens’ private sexual orientation affect your public decision making?

I have written before about Dick Cheney who said that he believes “Freedom means Freedom for Everybody,” and Mayor Jerry Sanders who said he cannot tell people they are “less important, less worthy or less deserving of the rights and responsibilities of marriage than anyone else simply because of their sexual orientation.”

Critics have said that both Mr. Sanders and Mr. Cheney let their personal lives influence their decision-making because they have children who are gay. But to see what happens when public figures make decisions in spite of their family, look no further than your late friends Representative Sonny Bono and State Senator Pete Knight.

Despite co-authorship of DOMA from one and the notorious Proposition 22 from the other, their children are just as gay as the Cheney’s. Mr. Knight’s son even married his love Joe Lazzaro in San Francisco – a marriage later annulled by his own father’s law. These kids are living full lives, yet not able to participate fully in our economy and community because of who they love and their fathers’ legacy.

Nothing any of these men said would have stopped their kids from becoming who they are. But on the way two of these men did things to make the world better for their kids, and two worked to make it worse. Yes, perhaps Mr. Sanders and Mr. Cheney let their decisions be influenced by their personal lives instead of political directives, but the world is better for it.

I want my kids to have the freedom to marry the person that they like and love – regardless of their religion, race or gender. I would hope you would want the same. I invite you to speak out about how important it is for our kids to have the freedom to marry regardless of their sexual orientation. Who knows? It might be in your personal best interest too.

Yours,

Today’s letter – not all Republicans hate gay people

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I started out writing this letter intending to point out that there were a lot of Republicans who would let me get married to my partner of ten years.

We all know about Vice President Dick Cheney saying ”freedom means freedom for everyone,” John McCain stating that “The constitutional amendment [banning gay marriage] strikes me as antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans,” and San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders who refused “to tell an entire group of people in our community they were less important, less worthy or less deserving of the rights and responsibilities of marriage than anyone else.”

But then the trail ran dry. With all of the Congressmen and Governors who trust their careers to lesbian and gay staffers; all who attend official ceremonies where gay couples are treated as married people; all who talk about compassion, freedom and the value of the family – with all those people, I would think there would be more than three that support the freedom to marry over the oppression of a minority’s basic human rights.

I guess the kind of people that truly believe “freedom means freedom for everyone” either don’t become Republicans, or conveniently forget about their personal convictions when they step onto the campaign trail.

I wish that you would remember why you became a Republican – “free enterprise, getting the government off your back, lowering the taxes and strengthening the military” – and like Mr. Cheney, Mr. McCain and Mr. Sanders, let me get married.

Yours,

Today’s letter – your veto would be OK if you supported marriage

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I consider myself to be a good citizen, and I believe that all committed couples should have the same freedom to choose marriage. Why don’t you?

You vetoed AB 43 on a technicality, but you stopped short of saying that you wanted to sign the bill.

You said that you “support current domestic partnership rights” but you do not say that those rights should include marriage.

You have said that there is nothing wrong with being gay, but you have never said there is nothing wrong with gay marriage.

You didn’t have to sign AB 43 to support the freedom to marry, but failing to support the freedom to marry is supporting the freedom to discriminate.

That sends the wrong message to the courts and the people: that you believe their right to hate is more important than my right to love. That is not only bad leadership, it is bad citizenship.

Yours,

Today’s letter – I’m writing because California needs AB 43

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I’ve been writing to you every day since July 12 to ask you to sign AB 43 because I believe that if you heard the stories of Californians who are affected by this every day, you would find a way to sign it.

From giving hope to LGBT youth who just want to grow up and have a family, to gay parents raising kids, there is no substitute for marriage. I’ve told you the story of my Registered Domestic Partner and our newborn twins, and how badly we want the security and simplicity of marriage. But your heart is still on the side of the Opponents of Equality.

I don’t know what else I can do to get you to have the change of heart that you – and California – so desperately needs. So I will keep writing to you in the hope that some friend of yours finds these letters and makes you sit down to read them before it’s too late.

And as a friend, I have to tell you, once you have that change of heart, you will be brutally embarrassed that you ever stood in the way of freedom. For the sake of California, the Republican Party, same-sex couples or just my family, read about these issues and sign AB 43.

Your friend,

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,

Today’s letter – inspiring leadership

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I love hearing “change of heart” stories.

Yesterday, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, a Republican like you, endorsed a resolution supporting the freedom to marry, reversing his previous position favoring Domestic Partnerships.

He said “For three decades, I have worked to bring enlightenment, justice and equality to all parts of our community. As I reflected on the choices that I had before me last night I could just not bring myself to tell an entire group of people in our community they were less important, less worthy or less deserving of the rights and responsibilities of marriage than anyone else simply because of their sexual orientation.”

It is so nice to hear Republicans making statements like this instead of statements like Larry Craig’s. And yours.

I wish you would ask your Attorney General for a new opinion on the legality of signing AB 43. I wish you would ask your Chief of Staff if she feels that her relationship is protected equally under the law. I wish you would meet with just one family that have had kids without access to the security of marriage. I wish you call Mayor Sanders (619-236-6330) to hear from his own mouth why he changed his decision.

Then I wish you would consider what is right and fair, and have a change of heart. I’ll forgive you for reversing your promise to veto this; I won’t forgive you – or the GOP – for ignoring my family over what seems like party politics without even the courtesy of listening.

Sincerely,

Attachment: Mayor Sanders’ statement

“With me this afternoon is my wife, Rana.

“I am here this afternoon to announce that I will sign the resolution that the City Council passed yesterday directing the City Attorney to file a brief in support of gay marriage.

“My plan, that has been reported publicly, was to veto the resolution, so I feel like I owe all San Diegans right now an explanation for this change of heart. During the campaign two years ago, I announced that I did not support gay marriage and instead supported civil unions and domestic partnerships.

“I have personally wrestled with that position ever since. My opinions on this issue has evolved significantly, as I think the opinions of millions of Americans from all walks of life have. In order to be consistent with the position I took during the mayoral election, I intended to veto the Council resolution. As late as yesterday afternoon, that was my position.

“The arrival of the resolution, to sign or veto, in my office late last night forced me to reflect and search my soul for the right thing to do. I have decided to lead with my heart, to do what I think is right, and to take a stand on behalf of equality and social justice. The right thing for me to do is to sign this resolution.

“For three decades, I have worked to bring enlightenment, justice and equality to all parts of our community. As I reflected on the choices that I had before me last night, I just could not bring myself to tell an entire group of people in our community they were less important, less worthy or less deserving of the rights and responsibilities of marriage, than anyone else — simply because of their sexual orientation.

“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.

“Two years ago, I believed that civil unions were a fair alternative. Those beliefs, in my case, have since changed. The concept of a “separate but equal” institution is not something that I can support.

“I acknowledge that not all members of our community will agree or perhaps even understand my decision today. All I can offer them is that I am trying to do what I believe is right. I have close family members and friends who are members of the gay and lesbian community. Those folks include my daughter Lisa, as well as members of my personal staff. I want for them the same thing that we all want for our loved ones, for each of them to find a mate whom they love deeply and who loves them back, someone with whom they can grow old together and share life’s experiences. And I want their relationships to be protected equally under the law. In the end, I couldn’t look any of them in the face and tell them that their relationships — their very lives — were any less meaningful than the marriage that I share with my wife Rana. Thank you.”