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June 8, 2006

The White House

Attn: First Lady Laura Bush

Washington, DC 20502-0700

Dear Mrs. Bush:

I am writing you because I believe you to be a woman of compassion, honesty and integrity.

In 1980, a dear friend of mine, Michael "Sergio" Rios, passed away in San Francisco due to complications from a kidney transplant. Sergio was a gay man who was fortunate to have had a life partner by his side for several years, including through the days he lay dying.

The day after Sergio's funeral, his family descended upon their home and literally stripped his life partner of everything they had accumulated during their years together. I can still see Sergio's partner, Gregg, sitting on the empty living room floor in tears because they took the ring Sergio had given him as a token of his commitment.

I, too, am a gay man who has been living with my partner for the past six-plus years. On July 16, 2004, my partner and I participated in a historic event, when we, with 50 other couples, descended upon the city clerk's office in Colorado Springs, Colo., requesting marriage licenses. Of course, we were denied, because same-sex marriages are illegal here.

However, two days later, my partner and I, along with the same 50 couples, were united in marriage by the founder of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, the Rev. Dr. Troy Perry, and our own pastor, the Rev. Elder Nori Rost of the Pikes Peak Metropolitan Community Church in Colorado Springs.

There are prominent members of the evangelical church movement in Colorado Springs, such as Pastor Ted Haggard of New Life Church and Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, who believe homosexuality is an abomination against God, and that homosexuals should have no rights or protections.

I have to differ with their opinions because, in all honesty, I never asked or chose to be this way. It is the only life I have known; a life that I attempt to live as a God-fearing Christian. I attend weekly services at my church and serve as the music minister and accompanist for our 9 a.m. traditional service. I was also elected as lay delegate to our denomination.

I am writing to you today because my partner and I have no legal protection in the event of our deaths or becoming incapacitated. Our respective families could come and "steal" property that rightfully belongs to each other. We can, of course, protect ourselves with lengthy and expensive legal documentation. A more practical solution to this dilemma would be for my partner and me to legally marry under civil law.

We are not asking anyone to accept or condone a religious ceremony. Our union is already recognized by our denomination, which is recognized by the Council of Churches. We are asking for the rights under civil law to marry, and to accept the 1,000-plus laws, rights, privileges and responsibilities that come with a civil marriage.

I am also writing to you to plead with your husband, our president, to not write discrimination into the sacred documents that have served and led us as a nation for more than 200 years. I am asking you to plead with him to be remembered for representing all Americans, and not the few that would polarize this nation in the name of religion.

He has the opportunity to leave a legacy of granting civil rights and liberties to all Americans, rather than, for the first time in this nation's history, writing discrimination into our Constitution.

In closing, there will always be those that believe homosexuals are destined for hell. The unique and beautiful thing about being an American is that it is OK to have beliefs that differ from those around us. It is not, however, OK for any individual or group to oppress people and deny rights to individuals in the name of religion. If that was true, then the Mayflower expedition has been in vain. We have not created a nation of religious freedom, but a nation of religious hypocrisy.

With my utmost respect,

Brian E. Lund

Colorado Springs resident Brian E. Lund sent a slightly longer version of this letter directly to Laura Bush this week.

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