Sunday, November 30, 2008

Alabama (VII) Congressman Arthur Davis

Today I conclude (until the start of the next Congress) my correspondence with Alabama's congressional delegation with Congressman Arthur Davis, Democrat, representative of Alabama's 7th Congressional District:

Dear Congressman Davis,

I write to you as a fellow Democrat and a concerned citizen to urge you to change your stance on the issue of same-sex marriage. Your record in Congress testifies to your robust commitment to the cause of civil rights, yet you crossed party lines to vote in favor of the so-called "Federal Marriage Amendment" that would have deprived same-sex couples of the right to marry. Indeed, during the 2004 election campaign you went on record as denying that the cause of same-sex marriage rights may be classed as a civil rights issue: "The civil rights movement was more of a movement for the equal rights of all Americans: education, voting rights, jobs. Whereas gay rights in terms of gay marriage is a movement for a special group of Americans. So I would not compare civil rights with gay rights."

This declaration employs the same flawed logic used by opponents of earlier civil rights movements: that blacks or women or Latinos or any other aggrieved group constitute a "special interest" whose demands for "particular consideration" place a burden on the rest of society. But as you note, Congressman, any civil rights struggle is ultimately about the rights of all Americans. As long as rights are denied to a few, they can never really be fully enjoyed by the many. The right to marry the partner of our choice is one that all human beings cherish, which is why Mildred Loving, whose courageous stand against so-called "miscegenation" laws ended discriminatory laws barring interracial marriage, came out in favor of same-sex marriage rights before her passing earlier this year.

Moreover, the question of same-sex marriage rights can not be isolated from issues of "education, voting rights, jobs," or other such concerns. As long as there is any group within our community that are treated as second-class citizens the solidarity of the whole is impaired, and the power of the people to agitate for fairer conditions in the classroom, the workplace, or the voting booth is diminished. Exclusion from the marital bond is the chief (though by no means the only) means by which gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender citizens are relegated to second-class status. Until that fundamental injustice is redressed the welfare of all Americans will be eroded.

The state of our basic law as it stands now is unjust and discriminatory. Our 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." Until it is the individual rights and dignity of all Americans will not be fully protected under law.

I urge you to give this issue careful consideration, Congressman. I admire your long record of service to Alabama and to the United States. In any event, I trust you to act conscientiously. Thank you for your attention, I hope this message finds you well.


Andrew Meyer

No comments: