Today I begin a correspondence with Arizona's Congressional delegation with the senior senator from Arizona, Senator John McCain:
Dear Senator McCain,
I write you as a fellow American to plead for your support for a Constitutional amendment to protect the right of same-sex couples to marry. On the issue of same-sex marriage, like many others, you have shown a stalwart independence of mind. You audaciously broke ranks with President Bush and your own party in opposing the so-called "Federal Marriage Amendment."
You stood against a Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage because, in your estimation, it would "usurp from the states a fundamental authority they have always possessed and impose a federal remedy for a problem that most states do not believe confronts them." Your defiance of the GOP thus did not entail a different opinion about same-sex marriage, but a different opinion about states' rights.
Indeed, within the jurisdiction of Arizona itself you supported a ban on same-sex marriage, saying, "I'm proud to have led an effort in my home state to change our state constitution and to protect the sanctity of marriage as between a man and woman."
The principles you have professed and on which you have acted thus do not mark you as amenable to the idea of a "Marriage Equality Amendment," as such a reform would contradict both your notion of states rights and the "sanctity of marriage." I dare to hope, however, that your proven flexibility and openness to alternative opinions might make you persuadable on both these counts.
First I would ask, Senator, even if one accepts (and I do not) that same-sex union is somehow "unsanctified," why is that the concern of either the federal or state government? From a religious perspective, all marriages not performed by one's own denomination are profane, and yet no one would tolerate the government's issuing marriage licenses to Catholics but not Baptists, Muslims but not Jews. The "sanctity of marriage" is a concern, yes, but it is a matter of individual conscience and confessional deliberation. If a particular religious group finds a particular union profane, no one can compel them to give it the sacrament of marriage.
The concern that does implicate the government is citizens' rights, and in this regard who can deny that the rights of same-sex couples are being violated? If two Jews profess to love one-another and act with mutual affection and fidelity, no one would argue that their marriage should be deemed civilly illegitimate on the opinion of their Christian neighbors. Why is this principle any different in the case of two women or two men? Marriage to the partner of one's choice is the most powerful way (short of becoming a parent) that we can shape our place in society at large. If that choice is taken from us, our personal horizons within which to exercise "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" are drastically narrowed.
Viewed in this regard, marriage to the partner of one's choice is an inalienable right, one that can not be adjudicated on a state-by-state basis. The only way these rights will be safeguarded for all citizens within our Union is if the Constitution is 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 career of service and sacrifice to our Nation is an inspiration to all Americans, you speak with a moral authority bought with the currency of arduous patriotism. I appeal to you to give careful consideration to this matter and to lend your voice to this cause. In any case no one can doubt that you will act conscientiously.
Thank you for your attention, I hope this message finds you well.