An open letter to Arnold

By Jerome Cleary

Originally published on Advocate.com September 14 2005 11:00 PM ET

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger:

As you may know, many of us in the gay and lesbian community, along with our straight friends, are holding our breath as to whether you are going sign or veto the same-sex-marriage bill when it reaches your desk on September 23. While you had expressed support of gay unions in the past, it seems now that you are bowing to the pressure of the extreme right.

If any of your four lovely children realized one day that they were gay or lesbian, would you not as a loving father want complete happiness for your children, no matter whom they love?

With recent events of Hurricane Katrina and the 9/11 tragedy four years ago, we recognize even more how precious life is. As our governor and leader of the great state of California, you have to take a stand. You were willing to admit your weaknesses and faults during your campaign for governor, and that makes you like everyone else--human. What could be more human than to want to commit to another individual in a relationship?

In today’s world the definition of family can include a single mother, a widowed father, and, of course, lesbians and gays as parents. There is no way to second-guess where you will stand with the radical religious right if you do sign and support the same-sex-marriage bill. But I can guess what will happen on some levels. You will be right in line with the recent California supreme court decision on child custody for lesbian partners. You will be seen as a man who has empathy and compassion and who believes in fair play for everyone.

It’s hard to imagine and believe that only a few days ago, I was walking down Sunset Boulevard and people yelled “Faggots!” from their cars at me and some unknown man walking ahead of me.

I want to believe that you want to go beyond what a typical politician does and be more of a true leader. At least that’s what I gathered from the spirit of your speeches. Great inspirational leaders have one thing in common--true individuality and foresight.

Please do not let your compassion for humanity be swayed by religious fanatics wanting to use the word marriage to mean religion and church. As with any other bill that comes before a governor, the wording is not always exact, and that leaves it open to be torn apart by the detractors. Supporting unions of two people to form a legal, bonding relationship instills the presence of equality.

Lastly, being well-liked and admired is a difficult position to maintain as governor. There will always be people who want to tear you down for each decision you make. That is why making a powerful, life-changing decision for our state makes sense both for equality and economically.

Imagine the attention and commerce that our state will attract as it goes from being America’s number 1 playground to being America’s number 1 ceremonial and honeymoon destination--and a state of compassion, humanity, love, and equality for everyone.

Good luck in your decision.