Today’s letter – Focus on the Family lies

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Focus on the Family lied, and you swallowed the Kool Aide. Citizenlink.com, the activation network of Focus on the Family, repeatedly refers to Proposition 22 as a “Constitutional Amendment,” such as in this article by their Associate Editor, Jennifer Mesko:

One of the bills, AB 43, is another attempt to force same-sex “marriage” onto the residents of California. In 2000, 62 percent of voters passed a constitutional amendment that states, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

That you signed seven LGBT-positive bills this session has poor Dr. Dobson in a thither, which is nice, but all those calls you got in support of your veto were based on misinformation – that Proposition 22 was a Constitutional Amendment.

What changes this from “shame on him” to “shame on you” is that your office did nothing to correct that misinformation, choosing to use it instead as a smoke-screen for vetoing AB 43 and my relationship.

Not everybody knows the gritty details of how Proposition 22 and AB 43 pass in the dark, but you do. You could have explained that Prop 22 covers 308.5 of the Family Code dealing with foreign marriages while AB 43 restores Sections 300 and 302 to their pre-1977 traditional language, “marriage is between two persons.” But you choose to ride the Focus on the Family Wrongmobile instead.

Depriving me and my family from making the commitment of marriage is wrong, but using convenient misinformation to deny basic freedom is perhaps worse.

Yours truly,

Today’s letter – here is what you could say

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

As you approach the deadline for acting on legislation from this fiscal year, I thought I might help out by writing a message for you to use in relation to AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act.

I was careful to address your objections in the past as well as the ultimate issue of using mere laws – even voter initiatives – to override the Constitution.

My fellow Californians.

I said that I would veto AB 43 because I believe the courts and the people should decide the fate of marriage in this state. I also said that lesbian and gay couples are entitled to full protection under the law and should not be discriminated against based upon their relationships. Up to now, I had seen these as being in contradiction to each other, but I have come to realize that it is not possible to treat these couples fairly while blocking them from marriage.

The people have made it clear through their elected representatives and the State Constitution that they do not tolerate discrimination in any form. Statutes passed by the legislature and even by voter initiatives are not able to create discrimination without changing the Constitution.

I also said that I would veto AB 43 because I lacked the authority to reverse an initiative approved by the people of California. I am not seeking that authority because I do not intend to reverse an initiative statute.

The initiative statute passed by the voters as Proposition 22 in 2000 enacted California Family Code Section 308.5 relating to marriages performed in other jurisdictions. It did not change the Constitution.

AB 43 changes Sections 300 and 302 of the California Family Code to say that a marriage is a contractual relationship between two persons. This is the original language of the Family Code prior to a legislative statute passed in 1977. It makes no changes to the implementation or enforcement of section 308.5.

AB 43 also provides for the free exercise of religion by institutions who believe in performing marriages of same-sex couples. Article I, section 4 of the California Constitution guarantees free exercise and enjoyment of religion without discrimination or preference, and as I explained earlier, Proposition 22 did not amend the Constitution.

Structures such as Domestic Partnerships and Civil Unions, which I have supported in the past, are undermining marriage by providing a way for couples to cohabitate without making the commitment of marriage. Proposition 22 was passed to defend marriage as an institution, not to defend it against some kind of invader. We can not protect marriage by excluding people who want to support it, or by creating imaginary enemies to keep out. These tactics divide us and weaken our ability to face the real problem. The best way to follow the intent of Proposition 22 is to provide one set of laws governing relationships in this state and providing universal access to them.

The courts and the people will have their say. The issue regarding the constitutionality of section 308.5 and its prohibition against recognizing same-sex marriages performed elsewhere is currently before the Court of Appeal in San Francisco and will likely be decided by the Supreme Court. Likewise, if the people want to exclude certain families from the security of marriage, they will need to pass a Constitutional amendment to do that. In the meantime, it is wrong to deny any citizen the freedom to marry, and just as wrong for me to block this bill.

I intend to uphold the Constitution of this state and the will of the people as expressed through their elected representatives by signing this bill into law.

The tide is turning, Governor. Do you want to be on the side supporting love, or the side supporting hate? Please sign AB 43 and support the freedom to marry.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – The Last Thing We Need

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

You have argued that AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, is unnecessary.

What was unnecessary was asking the Attorney General to invalidate my marriage in 2004; vetoing the first Freedom to Marry bill in 2005; vowing to veto AB 43 before the Senate had even voted it; and using a seven-year-old law about states rights as an excuse for allowing discrimination on your watch.

What is most unnecessary of all, though, is a ban that keeps people from getting married and churches from marrying them.

Please sign AB 43 and get rid of the unnecessary and offensive ban on freedom that the legislature installed in 1977 and that you have perpetuated throughout your rule.

A veto – and the divisive hatred that it emboldens – is the last thing we need.

Yours,

Today’s letter – The People cannot “vote to discriminate”

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

As a pragmatist, I don’t mind so much that you’re planning to veto AB 43 for political reasons; however I was sad to hear you say that discrimination is somehow acceptable because “the people voted for it.”

It is flat-out wrong to force people who would prefer to get married into Domestic Partnerships. You wouldn’t like to be treated that way, and neither do they.

The People thought this Golden principle was important enough to put in the Constitution, which predates and, I think we can agree, overrides Proposition 22. They voted away their right to separate and oppress minorities, and they put it to you to intervene and stop injustices.

So even if the people did indeed vote to discriminate, it is not OK for you to let them. The people elected you above all else to make sure that nothing interferes with the freedom of adults make choices for themselves. I wish you would do that, if not by signing AB 43, then by at least speaking out against this special mistreatment of your fellow citizens. That you would do neither, and blame it on the people, is reprehensible.

Sincerely,

Letter to Attorney General “Jerry” Brown – tell the Governor to sign AB 43

Attorney General’s Office
California Department of Justice
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550

September 18, 2007

Dear Attorney General Brown:

When you were Governor in 1977, you signed a law changing marriage in the State from “two persons” to “man and woman.”

The current legislature has asked your friend Governor Schwarzenegger to correct that law and extend the freedom to marry to all California couples through AB 43.

The Governor is using Proposition 22, a seven-year-old states-rights initiative that did nothing to change same-sex marriage, as an excuse to veto the new bill. In the meantime, states like Maryland are suddenly ruling that the legislature (not the Constitution) has the final say on marriage. This is some Proposition, this Proposition 22!

I wish you would talk to Governor Schwarzenegger and set him straight: he can and should sign AB 43 not only because the people (through the legislature) have asked him to do it, but because it’s the right thing to do.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – reasons to hope

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I know that you’ll never sign AB 43, the bill that would let my family choose the safety and simplicity of marriage just like everybody else. But there are reasons that I can hope:

On one side, AB 43 was passed handily by a recently-elected legislature. It is supported by every major human rights group, most family professional groups and even a lot of religious groups. We have a new Attorney General who probably has a different opinion of conflicts with Proposition 22. And we have successful gay marriages in many other places.

On the other hand, Proposition 22 is seven years old and the Opponents of Equality haven’t had enough support to bring a new petition initiative to the voters. AB 43’s biggest supporter is the Republican party that most recently lost control of Congress with their “bomb and preach” politics.

You have expressed an interest in moving the GOP out of the morality battle. Here is your second opportunity. I wish you would choose the side of the people and sign AB 43.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – an ode to the freedom to marry

When you try to justify
your veto in the people’s eye
you will certainly try to say
the people wanted it this way.

That was seven years ago,
when the people didn’t even know
the law protecting their state’s rights
would be twisted to block Freedom’s flight.

Twisted to prevent families
like “those” from having rights like “these”
by the opponents of equality
for their political opportunity.

The legislature has finally asked
you to join them in getting passed
a bill to bring the same equality
to families like yours and families like mees.

Your argument perhaps may pass
to the unsuspecting mass
but you know what must be done
to bring freedom to everyone.

If you veto 43,
you’ll be costing you and me
sixteen billion it would appear
plus twenty-four million every year.

Professionals have unified to say
Marriage is the best and only way,
and all around the world they see
that full marriage is how freedom should be.

But most of all it means that my
partner and I won’t have to try
to access marriage in some other way,
we can get married and have it stay!

You say that Proposition twenty-two
defending marriage from God knows who
shows that the people want to say
“same-sex couples go away.”

But I believe the people know
it’s hatred that has to go
so please sign the bill you soon will see
and bring full freedom to you and me.

Yours truly,
and Sincerely,

Letter to The Los Angeles Times – California needs and wants AB 43

Dear Los Angeles Times –

I’m getting tired of hearing the Governor use a seven-year old referendum about foreign marriage to justify a modern-day apartheid.

The polls put marriage one point ahead of banning it (46% to 45%) about double George W. Bush’s approval. AB 43 passed the Senate with three more votes than last time through – legislators don’t vote this way without their constituents’ support. And Proposition 22 wasn’t even about marriage in California! “Two persons” language was changed to carve out same-sex couples from marriage by the legislature in 1977 and signed by current-Attorney General-then-Governor Jerry Brown. What the legislature broke, the legislature can fix – it has nothing to do with 22.

LGBT families have worked hard to tell the truth about themselves and their community. They deserve better than a Governor that uses lies about Proposition 22 to unilaterally legislate who they can love and who they can marry.

P.S. I have written a letter to Governor Schwarzenegger every day since July 12; I post them online at http://signab43.blogspot.com and read them on YouTube.

Update: the State Senate passed AB 43

Just this morning, in a 22-15 vote, the Senate joined the Assembly in asking the Governor to provide same-sex couples with the same safety and security of marriage that opposite-sex couples have always had.

Those of you who have been following my letter-writing campaign know the issues: the Governor is using Proposition 22, a state-rights voter initiative passed in 2000, both as a measure of the intent of the voters and an excuse to veto these bills.

There is no legal conflict with Proposition 22, since the initiative did not affect California marriages one bit, legally or practically. AB 43 would actually reverse a 1977 law that the legislature passed and our current Attorney General signed when he was Governor.

Using Proposition 22 as a measure of the people’s intent is suspect. Seven years after Proposition 22, polls here in California show the people actually support the freedom to marry by a small – but significant – margin. Voters reelected every Senator and Assemblymember who voted for marriage freedom last session, and we received three more votes in the Senate than last time.

There is no point in lobbying the Governor when he uses mischaracterizations of the law to shield himself from taking controversial actions. As soon as Mr. Schwarzenegger is out of office, we will have the freedom to marry. By signing this bill, he will extend his legacy, but with a veto, the Governor is using his pen as a weapon to meddle with freedom and divide California.

Today’s letter – tell the truth about Proposition 22

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

As somebody who has read your various statements about gay marriage in California over the years, I believe that you would sign AB 43 (the bill ending the special exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage) if it was the will of the people. The problem is that you continue to use Proposition 22 as not only a gauge of will, but also as a legal excuse for vetoing this legislation.

We can disagree about the intent of voters when they passed Proposition 22, but the intent of the law was to block foreign marriages from becoming recognized in California.

It would seem from recent polling data and the behavior of the legislature that the people are not opposed to extending the freedom to marry to their fellow citizens.

It would make me really sad if you obstructed the will of the people based on a bad guess of their intentions. The people do not oppose freedom – please support them by signing AB 43.

Hopefully,