There are any number of urban legends circulating via email, so I was especially amazed to receive one today that is actually true. I called the number myself just to make sure, after searching extensively online at snopes.com and elsewhere to discount it. The Governor of California’s website (http://gov.ca.gov/) indicates that the number listed in the email is the public number for the Governor’s office.
Here’s the body of the email:
Support the CA Supreme Court’s Decision on Same Sex Marriage
The office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is polling reaction to the
California Supreme Court decision overturning the ban on gay marriage.
Most of the response they are getting is in OPPOSITION to the court action.
To vote in support of the Supreme Court’s decision on same sex marriage:
1. call 916-445-2841
2. press 1 (for English) or 2 (for Spanish)
3. press 5 (for hot issue topics)
4. press 1 (same sex marriage)
5. press 1 (for support)
After you’ve done this, please send it on to all supporters you know.
“Hi, dis is Ah-nold. I’m not at home right now…”
Sure enough, when I called the phone was answered by a voicemail system identifying it as the Office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. I pressed “1” to continue in English. I was provided an interesting series of options:
- Press 1 for office hours, mailing address, or the Governor’s email address
- Press 2 to voice my opinion on pending legislation
- Press 3 for information about Maria Shriver (I kid you not, that’s option 3!)
- Press 4 to invite the Governor to an event or to schedule an appointment with him
- Press 5 to voice my opinion on current hot issue topics
After selecting number five (despite my overwhelming desire to select number three and learn more about Maria) I was given a number of different issues on which I could voice mu opinion:
- Press 1 for the recent state supreme court decision allowing gay marriage
- Press 2 for the Governor’s proposed K-12 education budget
- Press 3 for the Governor’s proposed higher education budget
There were probably some additional hot issues but I didn’t listen that long.
After choosing “1” for the recent state supreme court decisions allowing Tawn and I to finally be legally married in the State of California, although it won’t give us any federal rights such as immigration, I had the option of pressing “1” to show my support for the ruling or “2” to show my dissatisfaction with it. Of course, I chose number one.
There is just something incredibly funny about this whole thing.
It says so much about our level (or lack) of participation in an ostensibly participatory democracy. We can’t be bothered to write a letter, let alone an email. Pressing a total of 15 buttons is all the effort we can take to express our opinions on political matters.
At the same time, especially if you’re in California, I’d appreciate you giving Arnold a call and letting know how you feel. He’s already stated that he does not support the proposed constitutional amendment that is designed to overturn the court’s ruling, which will be on the November ballot. As a moderate Republican, Arnold’s support is very valuable to the cause of equal rights for gays and lesbians.
Still, this is a very surreal way for the public to get involved in politics, isn’t it?