Erica teases me on a regular basis about letters. In that I write a lot of them. And then I go to work and complain or regale her with stories about whatever politician or celebrity or newspaper article or friend or relative most recently inspired or aggravated me into writing another letter. At which point she rolls her eyes and says, "Oh, McNeil, of course you did." Chuckling good-naturedly, thank God.
John McCain's campaign, for example, received a rather irate missive earlier this fall about McCain's claims that his campaign website had proof that Obama actually wanted kindergarten children to learn about sex. (I never found it and I never heard back).
Governor Paterson received a heartfelt thank you last summer for being as supportive of gay rights as he is (generic response posted here) and a more recent plea to push through same-sex marriage rights here in New York now that California, Arkansas, Florida, and Arizona have, for the moment at least, fallen by the wayside when it comes to equality.
Last Monday almost-President-elect Barack Obama received a somewhat grumbly email in response to his less than full-throated opposition to California's Proposition 8. In an interview with MTV, Obama was brave enough to admit that he opposed the notion of amending a state constitution to remove rights from a select group of American citizens. But he also clarified that he believes marriage should be between a man and a woman and that he is in fact opposed to gay marriage. I asked why he couldn't have stopped after the first part. (I got an automated response from the Obama-Biden Transition Team on Thursday thanking me for my support. In all fairness to the team, they have the most inclusive non-discriminatory hiring policy I've ever seen. But still, this was disappointing.)
Not quite in the same vein, but I recently stumbled across a letter from one Democratic Candidate for U.S. Senate, published in the Windy City Times, and dated February 11th, 2004. It's quite a letter ("As a state Senator, I have taken on the issue of civil rights for the LGBT community as if they were my own struggle because I believe strongly that the infringement of rights for any one group eventually endangers the rights enjoyed under law by the entire population.") and I can only hope that this former senate candidate, after his January Presidential inauguration, lives up to his earlier self.
Lastly, feeling both inspired and demoralized after finally reaching the end of a long, long campaign season, I sent my 91-year-old grandmother a letter yesterday morning:
I've been thinking about you a lot this week, in the wake of Barack Obama's election Tuesday night, but also in the wake of gay rights being so soundly defeated. It's a heartbreaking thing, that America is so ready to move forward in some ways and yet still so ready to oppress in other ways. But what I've been thinking is how very lucky Nathan and I, and all of your grandchildren, are to have had you all these years as a role model. I know that, were you in California, you would have been among the tragically small number of older people to vote against Proposition 8, to see the immorality of taking away human rights and human dignity. And so I wanted to write to you, to tell you how grateful I've always felt to have you as my grandmother, a woman so committed to common sense and simple human decency that in some ways you're a woman generations ahead of your time. I love you, Grandma Mac. Thank you for being you.