3.08.2004

This is a letter from Bette Midler to President Bush

This is a letter from Bette Midler to President Bush - I think it is truly amazing and beautifully written . As I
understand it, she handed it out at her concert...one person making a difference...

Dear President Bush,

Today you called upon Congress to move quickly to amend the US Constitution, and set in Federal stone
a legal definition of marriage. I would like to know why.

In your speech, you stated that this Amendment would serve to protect marriage in America, which I must
confess confuses me. Like you, I believe in the importance of marriage and I feel that we as a society take
the institution far too lightly. In my circle of family, friends and acquaintances, the vast majority have
married and divorced - some more than once. Still, I believe in marriage. I believe that there is something
fundamental about finding another person on this planet with whom you want to build a life and family, and
make a positive contribution to society. I believe that we need more positive role models for successful
marriage in this country - something to counteract the images we get bombarded with in popular culture.
When we are assaulted with images of celebrities of varying genres, be it actors, sports figures,
socialites, or even politicians who shrug marriage on and off like the latest fashion, it is vitally important to
the face of our nation, for our children and our future, that we have a balance of commitment and fidelity
with which to stave off the negativity. I search for these examples to show my own daughter, so that she
can see that marriage is more than a disposable whim, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

As a father, I'm sure you have faced these same concerns and difficulties in raising your own daughters.
Therefore I can also imagine that you must understand how thrilled I have been over the past few weeks
to come home and turn on the news with my family. To finally have concrete examples of true
commitment, honest love, and steadfast fidelity was such a relief and a joy.

Instead of speaking in the hypothetical, I was finally able to point to these men and women, standing
together for hours in the pouring rain, and tell my child that this is what its all about. Forget Britney.
Forget Kobe. Forget Strom. Forget about all the people that we know who have taken so frivolously the
pure and simple beauty of love and tarnished it so consistently. Look instead at the joy in the beautiful
faces of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon - 51 years together! I mean, honestly Mr. President - how many
couples do you know who are together for 51 years? I'm sure you agree that this love story provides a
wonderful opportunity to teach our children about the true meaning and value of marriage. On the steps of
San Francisco City Hall, rose petals and champagne, suits and veils, horns honking and elation in the
streets; a celebration of love the likes of which this society has never seen.

This morning, however, my joy turned to sadness, my relief transformed into outrage, and my peace
became anger. This morning, I watched you stand before this nation and belittle these women, the
thousands who stood with them, and the countless millions who wish to follow them. How could you do
that, Mr. President? How could you take something so beautiful - a clear and defining example of the true
nature of commitment - and declare it to be anything less? What is it that validates your marriage which
somehow doesn't apply to Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon? By what power, what authority are you so divinely
imbued that you can stand before me and this nation and hold their love to a higher standard?

Don't speak to me about homosexuality, Mr. President. Don't tell me that the difference lies in the
bedroom. I would never presume to ask you or your wife how it is you choose to physically express your
love for one another, and I defy you to stand before Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon and ask them to do the
same. It is none of my business, as it is none of yours, and it has nothing to do with the "sanctity of
marriage". I'm sure you would agree that marriage is far more than sexual expression, and its high time we
all started focusing on all the other aspects of a relationship which hold it together over the course of a
lifetime. Therefore, with the mechanics of sex set aside, I ask you again - what makes a marriage? I firmly
believe that whatever definition you derive, there are thousands upon thousands of shining examples for
you to embrace.

You want to protect marriage. I admire and support that, Mr. President.

Together, as a nation, let us find and celebrate examples of what a marriage should be. Together, let us
take couples who embody the principles of commitment, fidelity, sacrifice and love, and hold them up
before our children as role models for their own futures. Together, let us reinforce the concept that love is
about far more than sex, despite what popular culture would like them to believe.