I know you haven't met me, but I feel it's important for me to introduce myself because of the Yes on 8 sign on your lawn.
Every time I see your sign it hurts me. It's painful to walk or drive down the street and see this evidence that you think I should not be allowed to marry my fiancée. You haven't met me or met my fiancée. You don't know about our responsibilities or the kind of family life we have, yet you post a sign like that. Sometimes it's easy to advocate hurting people when you don't know who you're hurting. That's why I wanted to write you directly.
Your sign says it's for protecting families. However, your home is near three schools—[names of schools]. Parents take their children past your house to those schools almost every day. Not every child comes from a family with opposite-sex parents. Many children come from blended families with stepparents, and some of those parents are of the same sex. Every time a parent from a same-sex family passes your sign, they must answer the question for their child of why some people don't believe their family is deserving of the same rights and protections of other families. Your sign is harming those families and especially those children.
A loving, loyal, and devoted spouse is not easy to find, which is why so many opposite-sex parents divorce. I'm sure we can all agree that the responsibilities of caring for children are better managed by two parents. I understand that you believe those children would be best cared for by two opposite-sex parents. But when the person a single parent finds love with happens to be a member of the same sex, do you really imagine that making it illegal for them to marry will somehow cause the parent to suddenly find love with a member of the opposite sex instead? Far more likely, by making it illegal for same-sex parents to marry, you will condemn their children to having unmarried parents. The lack of this legally and socially binding commitment between their parents, and between the stepparent and the children, deprives these children of the stability they need.
I would like to tell you a bit about my fiancée and me. We don't live whatever wild lifestyle you may imagine. I've never had a drink of alcohol, a cigarette, or a mind-altering substance of any sort in my life. She's a teacher. I edit educational texts used in schools. We don't live together yet—I've never lived with anyone since moving out of my parents' home ten years ago. My fiancée lived with a woman for ten years and formed a legal domestic partnership with her. They split several years ago, but they didn't have the money to file for legal dissolution of their domestic partnership until last summer. As a result, the dissolution will not be final until after Election Day.
Because constitutional amendments are not retroactive, the couples who married before Election Day will still be married if Proposition 8 passes. Ellen and Portia DeGeneres will still be married. George Takei and Brad Altman, together 21 years, will still be married. Proposition 8 does not have the power to undo their marriages. But because my fiancée did not have the money to file for dissolution of her domestic partnership sooner, your vote for Proposition 8 has the power to prevent our marriage.
I understand you may believe it's fair and equal to label my marriage a "domestic partnership" and reserve the term "marriage" for opposite-sex couples, as long as the laws are the same. But how is that any different from believing it's fair and equal to reserve a certain water fountain for white people only, as long as the water in the black people's water fountains is the same? Being forced to spend the rest of my life introducing the woman I love as "my girlfriend" or "my domestic partner" or "this woman I love, who loves me too, but who isn't legally recognized as my wife even though that's what she is" is clearly not equal to introducing her as my wife.
You're certainly entitled to believe that my relationship isn't equal to yours, of course. This is a free country, and all people are entitled to their own beliefs and choices. But you're not entitled to alter the state constitution to impose your beliefs on me, just as I'm not entitled to alter it to impose mine on you.
Legalizing same-sex marriage has not forced your church to start performing same-sex marriages, just as it has not forced any churches start doing so in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Canada, or any of the other places where same-sex marriage is legal. But not everyone goes to the same church that you do. Some churches, such as the United Church of Christ, do perform same-sex marriages. By voting for Proposition 8, you are taking away the freedom of those churches, and the members of those churches' congregations, to practice their own religions.
If you really believe marriage rights should be determined by majority vote, please consider this: In 1958, a full ten years after the California Supreme Court decision that legalized interracial marriage, a Gallup poll found that 96% of Americans still opposed interracial marriage. Where would we be now if the majority vote had been allowed to overturn the California Supreme Court decision back then?
I respectfully ask that you take your Yes on 8 sign down. I have faith that you care about the well-being of your neighbors even if they are different than you, just as I care about how I affect my neighbors.
P.S. I don't currently have a rainbow sticker on my car, or a rainbow flag on my front porch, or any of the other political symbols that some might resent living down the street from. But if your own sign remains up, I will definitely feel a need to acquire some.
[Note: I ended up removing the entire postscript from the majority of the letters. I also added the blue paragraph to the later letters.]