Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Today's letter - the cream of the crop

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger -

A comprehensive survey of Gay America was released today, with important implications to California.

The researchers at Hunter College, Rutgers and New York University confirmed that gay Americans are considerably more involved in public life than heterosexual Americans, by volunteering more, writing more letters to newspapers and political officials, attending more protests and rallies, and being roughly twice as likely to vote.

Older generation homosexuals prioritized laws against bias crimes and workplace discrimination, and emphasized "freedom from discrimination," while younger homosexuals placed access to marriage and adoption rights as their highest priorities, and valued "the freedom to live their lives" in similar fashion to heterosexual Americans.

Only about three percent of Americans older than 18 identify themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual, but the community is concentrated in states that provide them with rights and protections: one in three lives in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont or Washington.

One conclusion that you could make, Governor, is that if the proposed initiative to ban same-sex couples passes this November, California will lose some of its most active citizens as we migrate to places that are welcoming.

Another is that a Republican party that insists on banning freedoms like adoption and marriage will have difficulty attracting younger participants.

Finally, you might realize 3% of the population is not going to destroy marriage, while building and maintaining two systems of laws that depend on gender for just 3% of the population is not only morally offensive, but also expensive and short-sighted.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Today's letter - my husband

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger -

I’ve been having problems figuring out how to refer to my spouse. A lot of people try to insist that I call him my “registered California Domestic Partner,” but that doesn’t seem right to me.

We have been living as a married couple for ten years, ten months and twelve days; we were officially married at the earliest opportunity, on Valentine’s Day in 2004; we had two kids almost fourteen months ago; this year we even filed joint taxes.

I think I have to refer to my spouse as “my husband.” Anything less would be disrespectful to him and to our relationship, and confusing to the people that don’t quite know what a “partnership” is.

We shouldn’t be making up new words to describe marriages – we should be using the words that society has already defined. I wish you and your administration would do more to help people like me use the right words to describe our relatives and relations. I wish you would explain to the people that blocking same-sex couples from getting married is bad for our economy and our society.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Today's letter - Traditional marriage

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger -

When President Gerald R. Ford was running for his first term in congress in 1948, he delayed his marriage to Elizabeth Warren until after the election because he was worried that voters would punish him for marrying a divorced woman.

That was “traditional marriage” back then: you got one try to get it right, and after that you were ‘defective’ and couldn’t even take communion at church.

Much has changed in fifty years. Now Tom Cruise can get married as many times as he wants to, and nobody bats an eye. Obviously “traditional marriage” is simply a social and economic construct that unites two people and their families according to their individual choice.

Governor, would you help bring “traditional marriage” back to the people, by allowing all of the people of California to marry the person that they want to?

If Gerald Ford can marry a divorced woman and be elected President, I should have the freedom to marry the person I love, whether they are a felon, foreigner, divorcee, widower, ugly, white, Catholic, Republican, or – in my case – male.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Today's letter - the price of a soul

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger -

Charles Chesnutt was born in 1858 to two “free persons of color.” This heterosexually-married couple offered to sell their son to slavery, but could only get $23 for him, and turned down the deal.

In the new movie “Baby Mama” the character played by Tina Fey’s (occasionally seedy) character is shocked by the price of surrogacy and quips “It costs more to have somebody born than to have someone killed.” Nevertheless, she proceeds with the surrogacy.

The Opponents of Equality spent about $2 per signature to gather enough support to qualify the Constitutional amendment to limit marriage, and apparently succeeded.

So we have, by successive bidding, effectively determined the price of ones soul. It is $2.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Today's letter - second marriages are immoral

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger -

We were watching Access Hollywood last night featuring the breakup of Star Jones and Al Reynolds. Their tumultuous relationship gave tabloids the opportunity to explore issues about why people get married, and a chance to speculate about the various motivations of love, money, friendship, children and sex.

What I thought was interesting though was when my domestic partner / fiancée noticed that banning same-sex couples from getting married is just as arbitrary as banning second marriages. Why don’t we ban second marriages?

We don’t ban second marriages – except in the Roman Catholic Church – because marriage is fundamental to uniting families inside a social and economic structure.

So why do we ban same-sex marriages? Is it because their marriages are somehow less fundamental to society and the economy? Or is it to marginalize and punish people for being different?

I think you know the answer to that one, Governor.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Today's letter - why do you want war?

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger -

Samantha Smith was a ten-year-old girl in 1982 when she wrote to Soviet Premier Yuri Andropov about the growing arms race between the countries.

Dear Mr. Andropov,
Congratulations on your new job. I have been worrying about Russia and the United States getting into a nuclear war. …I would like to know why you want to conquer the world or at least our country. God made the world for us to live together in peace and not to fight.
Samantha Smith

Mr. Andropov wrote back to say

We want nothing of the kind. No one in our country—neither workers, peasants, writers nor doctors, neither grown-ups nor children, nor members of the government—want either a big or "little" war.

and went on to invite Samantha and her family to come and visit, noting as anybody who has visited Moscow any other time, that “summer is best.”

As a gay dad, I feel like the Opponents of Equality have declared war on me and my family through a petition initiative to take away my legal and social status with a Constitutional amendment. It doesn’t help that the Republican Party Platform calls for my extermination too, saying that “We oppose same-sex partner benefits, child custody, and adoption.”

Mr. Schwarzenegger, I would like to know why you and your administration want to destroy same-sex couples, or at least my family. God made the world for us to live together in peace and not to fight.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Today's letter - A bad proposition

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger -

Today the Opponents of Equality are announcing that their proposed Constitutional Amendment to limit marriage will be on the ballot in November.

As a gay dad, I think limiting access to marriage is a bad proposition. It teaches our children who are straight that it is OK to bully people who are different, and it teaches our children who are gay there is no alternative but celibacy or suicide. It prevents parents who are gay from fully participating in our economy, and places a greater economic burden on families who are not gay.

Most of all, it deprives individuals of making the most important choice they can make as human beings: if and whom to marry.

This initiative is not about “protecting marriage.” It is about taking an entire group of people and telling them they are less worthy and less capable of choosing how they live their own lives. It is not about “protecting the children” but about changing their Constitution to punish our differences instead of celebrating them. We would not like somebody to do that to us, and we should not do it to others. Any and all ways that you slice it, this is a bad proposition. Thank you for opposing it.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

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.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Today's letter - I am a $1.5 million threat

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger -

The biggest news in the gay marriage battle is that the Opponents of Equality are starting to turn in the signatures they have gathered over the past 150 days on a petition to limit marriage.

The executive director of the California office of the National Organization for Marriage. Brian Brown, said they have collected more than 1.1 million signatures. "We have gone against tremendous odds to do this, and now the voters in California will have the chance to protect marriage,"

It was not tremendous odds, it was tremendous cost. The Opponents of Equality paid more than $1.5 million so far – most of it from outside the state –to put this on the ballot, and are certain to spend much more to get it passed.

My same-sex domestic partner and I must be a real threat to the social order if people in Kansas are willing to send money to California to make sure we don’t get married. The only joy that I can feel out of this whole situation is that is $1.5 million dollars that will not be going into John McCain’s election.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Today's letter - I am worse than felons

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger -

I noticed that in order to meet combat needs, the Army and Marines accepted a total of 861 recruits with felony convictions last year, including manslaughter and sex-crime convictions,

What kind of a message does it send to people when those who kill and abuse their neighbors are given the freedom to marry and serve in the military, while people like me – who just wants to be the best husband and father that I can – are excluded?

I’ll answer that rhetorical question: it says we punish people for the way they were made instead of how they behave.

It is not too late for you to call on the people and the Supreme Court to end the limitations on marriage by letting same-sex couples have the freedom to marry.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Today's letter - a humane and reasonable stance

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger -

Syndicated columnist Deb Price, based in my home town of Detroit, Michigan, wrote in her most recent column that “California's governor has taken a humane and reasonable stance on gay marriage. John McCain should pay attention.”

She points out that your statement “I will always be there to fight against that – because it should never happen” echoes another Republican, Ronald Reagan, who torpedoed the 1978 Briggs initiative that would have banned gay and gay-friendly teachers. Clearly, smart politicians like you and Mr. Reagan, choose to wisely unite rather than recklessly divide.

I wish you explain to your pal John McCain how welcoming California’s gay and lesbian families into marriage (and the Republican party) is not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.


Friday, April 11, 2008

Today's letter - the final step

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger -

Today was a historic day. For the first time, a sitting Republican Governor chose the part of the party platform that says “We support the two-parent family as the best environment for raising children” instead of the puzzling conclusion that “it is important to define marriage as being between one man and one woman.” And you did it with all the style and humor that we expect from you.

The Sacramento Bee reported that you even called the initiative “a waste of time” and quipping "I think we need a constitutional amendment so that foreign born citizens can run for President, but not about gay marriage."

I know it took a lot for you to break your policy of not commenting on an initiative that has not even qualified. Thank you for listening to the people, and taking this giant historic step towards bringing California’s same-sex couples one step closer to full participation in our economy and society.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Today's letter - even the Pope could use a lesson in tolerance

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger -

In preparation for next week’s visit by Pope Benedict XVI, DignityUSA will hold a peaceful rally outside of the United Nations asking the Pope to denounce violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and to end his own language that undermines gay people worldwide.

I would like you to join fair-minded Americans in this peaceful request to the Pope, and also to change your own message that California’s same-sex couples are less worthy of marriage than opposite-sex couples.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Today's letter - civil rights not so hot ourselves

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger -

The Olympic Torch visits San Francisco today on its way to China. Many people are upset at China’s civil rights history. But what about California’s?

Sure, we were the first to remove the ban on interracial marriages, and one of the first to integrate schools. But, because of you and your administration, we still do not allow some people – like me – to marry the person we love.

I wish you would support our own civil rights and give every Californian the same freedom, the freedom to marry.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Today's letter - privacy

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger -

I read today that your personal medical records were among those that had been inappropriately accessed at UCLA Medical Center, along with actress Farrah Fawcett and your wife Maria Shriver.

Now you are suddenly a proponent of expanded privacy protections. I wish I could be sympathetic.

You and your administration have designed a process that makes separate check boxes for Domestic Partners and Married couples. Every time I go to the doctor, apply for car insurance, file my taxes, complete a DBA, apply for a EDD license, pay my property taxes or visit the DMV I am not only reminded that my relationship “isn’t quite marriage” but that fact is also broadcast to every person who sees my form.

Now I don’t mind being out and proud, but that decision to be differentiated and marginalized should be my own, not my government’s, and certainly not my governor’s.

For everybody’s personal privacy, please let domestic partners get married in California.


Monday, April 7, 2008

Today's letter - Absolutly better

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger -

ABSOLUT Vodka has been running an advertising and branding campaign called 'In An ABSOLUT World,' visually answering the question "what if everything in the world were approached with the same ideals that ABSOLUT approaches vodka?"

The latest addition to this campaign proposes that, in a more perfect world, lesbian and gay couples would be able to choose marriage the same way that heterosexual couples can – in this case by “popping the question” in a sports arena.

But while I have the freedom to go to the liquor store and pick up a pint of perfection, I do not have the ability to go to my courthouse and get a marriage license.

I wish you would do your part to make the world a better place, and help all California families have the same freedom – the freedom to marry.


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Today's letter - tests of faith

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger -

I read today about a mission sponsored by Soulforce, the National Black Justice Coalition, The Metropolitan Community Church and COLAGE that will be traveling to six influential mega-churches between Mother's Day and Father's Day in order to challenge anti-gay messages in places of worship.

The sponsors have asked the six mega-churches to welcome Outing's gay and gay-friendly families for meals, conversation and worship. Will they be welcome by the new crop of ministers who are not as anti-gay as Rev. Jerry Falwell and the Rev. D. James Kennedy? Or will they be turned away like the angels were from Sodom and Gomorrah, or same-sex couples were when you vetoed AB 43 the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act?

It is truly pathetic that lesbian and gay citizens of California are more welcome by their churches than they are by their government.


Saturday, April 5, 2008

Today's letter - Charlton Heston said it but didn't do it

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger -

Charlton Heston died today.

During his life, Mr. Heston called for privacy and compassion for lesbian and gay couples, saying "As long as gay and lesbian Americans are as productive, law-abiding and private as the rest of us, I think America owes them absolute tolerance. It's the right thing to do."

But while he called for privacy and tolerance, he wouldn’t give it by allowing lesbian and gay couples to marry quietly and with the dignity they deserve, fiercely opposing gays in the military and lashing out against same-sex parenting.

As a gay dad, I just want to be as law-abiding and private as the rest of America. The only way to do that is if I have the same freedom as the rest of America – the freedom to marry.


Friday, April 4, 2008

Today's letter - even The Mormons are coming around

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger -

Even the Church of Latter-Day Saints is beginning to have a change of heart. Traditionally the church has focused on man-on-woman relationships (occasionally several) and the consequences of being gay were excommunication, homelessness and suicide. Under new Church President Thomas Monson, though, LDS have agreed to a historic meeting with Affirmation, a group which represents 910,000 gay and lesbian Mormons.

"I firmly believe that within my lifetime the church will welcome gay brothers and sisters as full members in the church. I don't think that will happen today or tomorrow, but it will eventually happen," Affirmation assistant senior executive director David Melson says. "Anytime that we teach homophobia as a family value, it means we are missing the mark and not doing the job that we should be doing as a people, as a church."

The race is on – will you or the Mormons be the first to admit that everybody deserves the same freedom, the freedom to marry?


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Today's letter - apology acceptable

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger -

A videotape recently surfaced from 1991 showing of a member of the Canadian parliament, Saskatchewan MP Tom Lukiwski, describing homosexual men as "faggots with dirt on their fingernails that transmit diseases."

Mr. Lukiwski has apologized twice for his comments, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper said "I believe that when such apology and remorse is sought from an individual member, the generous and high-minded thing to do is to accept that apology."

So whenever you are ready to apologize for your 2007 veto of AB 43, the bill that would have let me and my domestic partner finally get married, you can be sure I will be sufficiently generous and high-minded to accept it. But until you apologize, I reserve the right to be mean and bitter toward the person who would not let me have the one simple freedom that you and your wife enjoy so freely – the simple freedom to marry.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Today's letter - continuous improvement

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger -

Author and educator Brett Berk just released a book titled "The Gay Uncle's Guide to Parenting: Candid Counsel from the Depths of the Daycare Trenches." Mr. Berk joins the likes of the Fab Five from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Christian Siriano from Project Runway, Andrew Sullivan from The New Republic, and just about every wedding planner in providing witty and rational advice about relationships, fashion, entertainment, real estate and politics. People listen because the gays are always right. Now it’s your turn.

As a gay dad, I know that California would be better if same-sex couples had access to marriage. Governor, would you please listen to me, stop making excuses, and terminate this apartheid?


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Today's letter - writer's block

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger -

I’m caught up with writer’s block and don’t have anything to write to you today.


There are a million reasons why California and America would be better if everybody has the freedom to marry the person of their choosing. I don’t think I could ever stop, until we all get the same freedom, the freedom to marry.