Saturday, November 29, 2008

Alabama (VI) Congressman Spencer Bachus

The Democratic representative of Alabama's 5th Congressional District, Congressman Bud Cramer, is retiring (to be replaced by Democratic Congressman-Elect Patrick Griffith). Today's letter is thus addressed to the representative of of Alabama's 6th Congressional District, Congressman Spencer Bachus, Republican:

Dear Congressman Bachus,

I write to you as a concerned citizen to urge you to change your stance on the issue of same-sex marriage. On your website you include a statement entitled "The Defense of Marriage Requires a Constitutional Amendment." I would agree with this proposition, yet I would insist that the constitution must be amended to read, "The right to marry shall not be abridged or denied by the United States or any state on account of sex or sexual orientation."

Your statement fosters many common misconceptions about marriage and its history. For example, you declare, "More than 200 years of American law and thousands of years of human experience should not be arbitrarily changed by a handful of judges and local authorities." Yet if we are to discuss the long sweep of "human experience," it must be acknowledged that same-sex love and same-sex union have been attested to in virtually all human societies for as long as written records have been kept. The only factor that prevented same-sex unions from being deemed "marriages" in the past was the rigidly patriarchal and illiberal nature of pre-modern society. Only men and women could be married because marriage, like all other social bonds, was defined as a union between two unequal partners: husband-lord and subject-wife. The "natural" imbalance of powers in the marital bond was considered an organic product of the "natural" superiority of men over women. To allow a union between two people of the same gender would be to create a marriage in which there was no "natural" master and subject, thus inviting social anarchy.

We live in more enlightened times now, however, in which we recognize that differences in gender do not entail a difference between the fundamental worth or basic rights of two human beings. Denying loving and committed same-sex couples entrance to the marital state perpetuates the illiberal and regressive values of past ages. It is that dysfunctional past from which marriage must be defended, not the aspiration of present-day Americans to support one another in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer.

I urge you, Congressman, to reflect carefully on this matter. You may disagree with the principles underlying the above amendment, but please know that millions of Americans believe the right to marry the partner of one's choice to be inalienable, and we shall not rest until those rights are guaranteed in law to all citizens of our Republic.

Thank your for your attention, I hope this message finds you well.


Andrew Meyer

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