Most of you probably have heard that last night the California state assembly (barely) voted to pass AB 849 which provides gender-neutral wording for the definition of marriage in our state. While this is indeed a great victory for gay and lesbian people in California (and for ALL people who are concerned with equal rights) there is still a battle to be fought in terms of making this law. The next step is the approval by Gov. Schwarzenegger, who now has only 30 days to decide to approve, ignore, or veto the bill. If he ignores the bill then it will become law by default, but he has hinted that he may veto it and faces much opposition to the bill.
What is needed now is action. Magick, prayers, spells, as well as the more traditional phone calls, letters, and speaking out. Today I emailed the governor as well as sent him a "snail mail". I have included a copy here so that others might then be inspired to take their own action.
Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,
I am a gay man who has been partnered for over twelve years. I have lived in California all my life. I am a business owner, a tax payer, and a person of religious faith. I am also a person who has been denied a basic right that many others are able to enjoy in California and across the country. As a citizen and voter in California who is concerned about civil rights in our state, I am writing to urge you to lend your support to AB 849; the bill that would make the definition of marriage in California gender neutral.
The opposition would have us believe that the right of legal marriage should only be available for heterosexual partners, variously citing both legal traditions as well as religious ones. It is important to understand, however, that these points have no place in a secular society that is said to value freedom and the rights of individual expression. Citing Biblical and religious reasons to deny a segment of Californians basic human rights represents the fears and ignorance that stem from religious extremism. Citing legal tradition as justification to oppress a minority is simply wrong, both morally and factually. As you know the definition of marriage in California was not gender-specific until 1977, so the argument that "this is how it has always been" (apart from being surprisingly backward) is also simply false.
This is an important issue to take a stand on. While there have been needed improvements in recent years, right now in California gay and lesbian people are still forced to be second-class citizens in the eyes of the law. Until ALL Californians are able to enjoy the same rights and privileges regardless of race, religion, creed, AND sexual orientation, then the freedom that we claim to be fighting for amounts to little more than political lip-service.
While many might think of this issue as being a minor one, I feel compelled to point out that as long as segments of society are disallowed civil rights then it sends the message that it is acceptable to oppress and to deny them. This mentality lends itself to both discrimination and to violence. I have been the victim of both and I strongly feel that this needs to be addressed for the health and safety this often oppressed minority.
This is not an issue that should be decided by a majority vote of the people. Civil rights should never be something that can be denied or taken away from citizens of this country. The constitution, while imperfect, is supposed to guide us through these issues in part by protecting the rights of minorities from the tyranny of an often ignorant ruling class. The majority can be (and often has been) simply wrong. History will judge the actions of today through the eyes of tomorrow. Just as interracial marriages were once illegal (and opposed by the majority of the populace) historical hindsight shows us that the actions of a few brave people were able to transcend the fear and the ignorance of the ruling mindset to usher in a new era of change, tolerance, and freedom so that we could take yet another step toward realizing those lofty goals of the founding fathers when they put pen to paper to declare that "all men are created equal" and that our government would represent "justice for all".
I fervently ask that you sign this bill and lend it your full support. I ask that you take a historical stand and protect the rights of so many Californians who need you right now. I ask that you speak out in support of this bill, knowing that by doing so you are standing tall as a beacon of hope and freedom, not only for gay and lesbian Californians, but for all people who strive to realize those freedoms that so many have fought and died for.
This wont be easy. There is fierce opposition who will try to discredit you. But I have faith in you. If you have half as much faith in yourself as I do then you will be able to stand up and do the right thing. We stand at a crossroads between intolerance and freedom. The decision is yours. It is time for you to lead California into a new era. I pray that you make your decision based on what is right and good, and not on what is popular. I believe that eventually all citizens will enjoy equal rights. When that happens how will history judge us? We have a golden opportunity to help to ensure that freedom is a reality in California. Please take it. Please support AB 849 and make freedom a reality for ALL Californians.
Please take a moment to call or write (or both!) Gov. Schwarzenegger's office at:
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
This issue is bigger than just California. Let the fires of freedom rise and spread! This is MY spell. So must it be!
Schwarzenegger has announced that he will veto the bill, a move that was not unexpected.
Please still send your letters, make your calls, and tell him exactly what you think of him.