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 – a welcoming pope, or a greedy pope?

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

During his most recent visit, Pope Benedict XVI called on U.S. bishops to “continue to welcome the immigrants who join your ranks today, to share their joys and hopes, to support them in their sorrows and trials.”

This message of welcome irritated quite a few Americans such as Colorado Republican Tom Tancredo who claims that “America is full” and accused the pontiff of “recruiting new members of the church” to the detriment of American sovereignty. The Wall Street Journal defends Mr. XVI, saying “the pope welcomes immigrants because he’s catholic, not because they are.”

But what about me and my family? As a gay dad, I sure could use the support of the Catholic Church in my every day life. Instead I find an institution reaching out to Jews and Muslims, yet more dedicated to my extermination than ever.

If we want to decide if the pope is trying to get more money and power by courting immigrants, or simply accomplishing his mission of welcoming everybody to walk in the steps of Jesus, we need look no further than his treatment of lesbian and gay families. As long as the pope’s welcome excludes the last, least and lost, his intentions are clearly targeted at power and money over the ethics of his church. .

A similar test could be applied to you, Governor, and your party and administration. And as long as your Party Platform calls for my family’s extermination, you too will fail it.

Yours,

Today’s letter – Jesus was not about ‘social order’

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Today on the radio I heard about “Black Liberation Theology.” The logic goes like this: Jesus was a rabble-rouser. He kept telling people that they should not listen to the rabbinical power players, but rather listen to God. This upset the power players so much they executed him for what we would today call political crimes.

But through his life and death, He gave us liberty not just over the tyranny of death, but also over the tyranny of Old Testament laws and oppressive Roman rule. We reach heaven not through punishing people, but by liberating them. From The Good Samaritan to The Sermon on the Mount, God’s message is clear: we are to love God with all our heart, soul, body and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. That what Dr. Martin Luther King, Bishop Desmond Tutu and even Jeremiah Wright are trying to tell us, and not a bad foundation.

Now as a gay dad, I’m just trying to be the best husband, father and Christian that I can. That seems to disturb a lot of people. But what Liberation Theology shows us is God wants us to love and accept people no matter how much they disturb us. Whether the gays will or won’t go to heaven is unclear, but whether the oppressors or the oppressed will go to heaven is crystal clear.

Putting your veto on AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, was an easy thing for you to do, but if there is any truth to Liberation Theology, it was not the right thing to do. After all, I may be a rabble-rouser myself, but I am still your neighbor.

Yours,

Today’s letter – go forth and sin no more

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

The Vatican got a lot of press lately when Archbishop Gianfranco Girotti released an updated list of modern evils. The list includes genetic modification, carrying out experiments on humans, polluting the environment, causing social injustice, hoarding wealth, and taking drugs.

I’m a ‘back to basics’ kind of guy so I decided to look up sin in the Catechism of the Catholic Church on www.vatican.va. Right there, at the top of Part Three, Section One, Chapter One, Article 8, Part II, paragraph 1849 is the Roman Catholic Church’s official definition of sin:

“Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods.”

Now I’m not as much of an expert on sin as Archbishop Girotti, however it seems to me that trying to block two people from getting married is a sin by every measure – and a mortal sin when it is done in full knowledge of the harm that this groundless exclusion causes to people such as me, my partner, kids and parents.

I’ve been told that homosexuality is a sin, but I find it hard to believe people who are so attached to protecting ‘traditional marriage’ that they forget all reason, truth and conscience. A good neighbor would never do something like that to me. So I will stick to the basic definition of sin, and live in conscience that I am not the one making baby Jesus cry.

Yours,

Today’s letter – the fight for equality got more dear

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

The estate of an early employee of Microsoft, Ric Weiland, announced a $65 million donation to advance lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality, including scholarships and legal work on same-sex marriage.

In other words, $65 million was pledged to fight against Republicans like you who preach that individual choices are the best ones, then make sure the gays can’t make the most personal choice, the choice of marriage.

Please do like Mr. Weiland – take a stand against prejudice, hate and violence by supporting the freedom of all committed couples to make the commitment of marriage.

Yours,

Today’s letter – either the Church or Galileo is wrong

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Since the public policy banning my marriage is based on the teachings of the Catholic Church, it would be prudent to take a moment to examine the credentials of the teacher.

In 1633, The Vatican said that the sun (and everything else) orbits the Earth. Galileo Galilei claimed that the Earth orbited the sun. Observation v. Bible went on trial, and Galileo was found guilty of contradicting God’s word. He was forced to renounce his findings, excommunicated and placed under house arrest until his death.

It took centuries for fact to overtake fiction, and in 1993, Pope John Paul II finally conceded that Galileo was right: the Earth really did orbit the sun, and the Church was wrong.

I was astonished to learn that the current pope, Benedict XVI, is on a tear to once again condemn Galileo for daring to use facts to question the authority of the Church. This kind of blatant disregard for the brains God gave us makes me question all of the Church’s teachings; when you start to unravel them, it’s not a pretty sight.

I was taught that the universe revolves around God, not Mr. XVI. I was taught to treat others as I like to be treated myself. I was taught to pursue truth and not power. If anything I’ve been taught is true, the Catholic Church is dangerously far from God, and their treatment of Galileo – and me – proves that.

Please, Governor, use the brains God gave you and support the freedom to marry.

Yours,

Today’s letter – lying is worse than homosexuality

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I’m just trying to be the best husband and father that I can. That’s why I want to thank you for passing SB 777 to teach the truth in our schools.

I remember when I had my first sex-ed class (in a private Catholic school). I was in sixth grade. The principal and the male faculty took all the boys into the library, while the female faculty took all the girls to a classroom in the other end of the building. Being in the library, while the principal was trying to explain the reproductive system, we were looking up obscene words in the unabridged dictionary. That’s when I discovered to my dismay that a “navel” was several inches above where I thought it was. It was, in retrospect, very educational – but not because of the reasons that the faculty had intended.

Americans have developed a bad habit of confronting situations that challenge their beliefs by praying for contrary evidence to go away, then persecuting anybody who resists. Just like evolution and heliocentrism (a word from that unabridged dictionary) got this treatment in the past, homosexuals are getting it now.

As a gay man who believes in God and His country, raising children in a committed same-sex relationship, I’m a pretty damming piece of evidence that there is nothing wrong with gay marriage.

But in an attempt to make people like me “go away,” the Boy Scouts say that I don’t believe in God, Mormons say I am unpatriotic, Catholics say that I can’t get into heaven, and Republicans say I can’t raise children.

Just lying doesn’t make people like me go away – it just keeps me from fully participating in our economy and society. And that hurts everybody.

It doesn’t matter what somebody’s religious beliefs are, they are never an excuse for teaching lies to our children. Thank you for taking a stand for families by signing SB 777.

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 – Catholic Schools Teach Hate

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I just read a wonderful article in the Los Angeles Times titled Many Catholic schools fight to survive where the author, Carla Rivera, attributes the 40% decline in enrollment at Catholic schools to families leaving the urban core. As a recent dad, I think the real reason why enrollment is plummeting is that parents don’t want to send their kids to places that teach intolerance.

Anybody who has driven to Santa Monica lately knows that the area is not suffering from a lack of people. Over the last seven years, more than half of the population has not left the West Side. I do know one thing that happened seven years ago: the Catholic Church started attacking lesbian and gay families, starting with Proposition 22 and an attempted Constitutional Amendment, then following up with the 2004 “Defense of Marriage” acts now spanning 27 states.

The Boy Scouts have suffered a 35% decline in enrollment since 1977, and they too blamed it on urban shifts and the rise of alternative programs. But the Girl Scouts have the same external pressures and their enrollment actually rose 3% in the same time. The difference? The Boy Scouts fought for and won the right to exclude gay kids and leaders, while the Girl Scouts welcome everybody equally.

Polls conducted by the Barna Group show that in 2004, 52% of Christians aged 16-29 described Christianity as “hypocritical — saying one thing doing another,” and 80% of Christians polled picked “anti-homosexual” as a negative adjective describing Christianity.

As a parent, I think it would be irresponsible to send my kids to a place that taught that some families are better than others, or that their place in heaven depends on who they punish here on earth. A couple of years ago I might have thought differently, but looking in their eyes now I realize that hate is taught, and it is worth every penny to send them someplace where they will learn God’s love instead of the Catholic Church’s hate.

I wish their hate didn’t extend to my government. It’s too late for you to sign AB 43, but it is time to say that it is wrong to block the Freedom to Marry.

Yours,