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Bette Midler Letter to President Bush on Gay Marriage
Netlore Archive:  A widely circulated email criticizing President Bush's stance on gay marriage is falsely attributed to Bette Midler

Description:  Email flier
Status:  Falsely attributed
Circulating since:  Feb. 2004
Analysis:  See below
 


Email example contributed by Jack W., 5 Feb. 2004:

Letter to the "president", from Bette Midler...

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.

Please, for the sake of our children, for the sake of our society, for the sake of our future, do not take us down this road. Under the guise of protection, do not support divisiveness. Under the guise of unity, do not endorse discrimination. Under the guise of sanctity, do not devalue commitment. Under the guise of democracy, do not encourage this amendment.

Bette Midler


Comments:  For all we know, Bette Midler agrees with some or all of what's written above — she has a heavily gay fan base with whom she presumably sympathizes and has been known to take jabs at conservative politicians — but she did not write it.

The text was authored by blogger Stephanie Finnegan, who originally posted it in a LiveJournal entry dated February 24, 2004. The piece made no mention of Bette Midler nor was it connected with the singer in any way until another person copied and pasted it into a posting on a Bette Midler discussion board the next day. Though it was still not directly attributed to her, some readers evidently came to believe Bette Midler herself had written the letter, and within a week or so it broke into general email circulation under her name.

A March 5 notice on BootlegBetty.com, an unofficial Midler site whose Webmaster says he checked the authenticity of the letter "with people who would know," confirmed that Ms. Midler, who is currently touring, neither wrote the letter nor handed it out at recent concerts, as some people have claimed.


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Sources and further reading:

'Dear President Bush' by Stephanie Finnegan
As originally posted on her blog, 24 February 2004

'Dear President Bush' II
As posted to the Bette Midler Fan Club discussion group, 25 February 2004

Stop this Rumor: The 'Dear President Bush' Letter
by Mister D. at BootlegBetty.com


Last updated: 03/08/04


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