Friday, December 5, 2008

Arizona (II) Senator Jon Kyl

Yesterday teaching duties kept me from the blogosphere, but today I continue my correspondence with Arizona's congressional delegation with Senator Jon Kyl, the junior senator from that state:

Dear Senator Kyl,

I write you as a concerned American to urge you to change your stance on the issue of same-sex marriage. As a co-sponsor of the so-called "Marriage Defense Amendment" you rose on the Senate floor on June 6, 2006, to speak in its defense, saying:

Traditional marriage --marriage between a man and a woman--is the fundamental institution of our society. That is primarily because marriage is the best environment for the protection and nurturing of children. Traditional families are where we hope that children will be born and raised and where we expect them to receive their values. If we want our Nation's children to do well, we need to do everything we can to ensure that children grow up with mothers and fathers. And the place where that happens best is where mothers and fathers properly unite, in marriage . The state sanctions and encourages marriage not only because it wants to validate a lifelong personal relationship, but, more importantly, because we need a stable institution for child-rearing. That is why this issue is of such great importance.

If this is your principal argument against the rights of same-sex couples to marry, it does not hold the force of logic. One may cite conflicting studies about whether or not children are better off in a "traditional" two-parent household. How one comes down on this question is moot, however. Common sense dictates that any household with two loving, responsible parents is a better environment for a child than a single-parent household or an institutional group home. Given that globally there are more children who need homes than couples who are willing to provide them, refusing same-sex parents the sanction of marriage is at best a penny-wise and pound-foolish approach to the issue of child welfare.

Moreover, withholding entrance into the marital bond, even if it is combined with a comprehensive ban on same-sex couple adoption, will not effectively prevent children from being raised by same-sex parents. Circumstances will always bring a certain number of children into the care of same-sex couples; refusing those couples a marriage license is no help either to the children themselves or the institution of marriage. The net result is simply more children being raised out of wedlock, decreasing the prestige of the institution even as it increases the vulnerability of the families excluded from it.

Finally, please consider the welfare and happiness of the couples themselves, and the test of basic fairness that they must expect from their government. Heterosexual couples are never scrutinized in the slightest as to their fitness to be parents. Two convicted child-molesters may marry as long as they are of different sex. To ignore the most egregious particular harms that might arise in one group but to hold another group accountable in the abstract for the most tenuous, relative (and contested) harms does not merit being called a double standard- it is sheer bigotry.

As Loving v. Virginia established with respect to unjust bans on interracial marriage, marriage to the partner of one's choice is an inalienable right, one that can not be deprived to a citizen even by a vote of the majority. For this reason, I agree with you, Senator, that this is a matter than can not be left to the states to adjudicate. For marriage rights to be equally guaranteed to all citizens throughout our Union, our U.S. 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." Please know that millions of Americans believe passionately in the principles that underlie such a change to our basic law.

Though I disagree with many of your policies and opinions, I admire your long career of public service and share your love for our Nation. I appeal to you to newly consider this issue, and trust that in any case you will act conscientiously. Thank you for your attention, I hope this message finds you well.


Andrew Meyer

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