Today I continue my correspondence with Arkansas' Congressional delegation with Congressman Vic Snyder, Democrat, representative of Arkansas' 2nd Congressional District:
Dear Congressman Snyder,
I write you as a fellow Democrat and a concerned citizen to plead your support for a Marriage Equality Amendment recognizing the right of same-sex couples to marry. Alone among your colleagues in Arkansas' Congressional delegation you not only voted against the so-called "Federal Marriage Amendment," but voiced your opposition to Arkansas' state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. You have shown great political courage and stalwart independence of mind by speaking openly in defense of the rights of same-sex couples, in a state where even opposition to a federal ban on same-sex marriage on the pretext of "states' rights" can have political consequences. Indeed, your Republican opponents in Arkansas have lost no time in exploiting this issue for maximum advantage, stooping so low as to impugn your wife's remarks as a Unitarian pastor by way of scoring crass political points in the most recent election.
Admirable and exemplary as your stand has been, you have stopped short of supporting full legalization of same-sex marriage, endorsing instead the widely shared notion that institution of "civil unions" could sufficiently guarantee the rights of same-sex couples. Experience and statistical data show, however, that this "solution" is no solution at all. Same-sex couples that enter into civil unions in states where they have been instituted continue to be deprived many of the rights and privileges of marriage even within their home states, and face cruel discrimination in other parts of the Union. Moreover, since the federal government has refused to recognize civil unions same-sex couples are excluded from all the benefits of marriage that flow from U.S. law. The sum effect of civil unions is to create a system of marital apartheid in which same-sex couples are relegated to second-class status. Such a breach of fairness and justice can not stand. As Congressman John Lewis wrote in the Boston Globe in October of 2003:
"Some say let's choose another route and give gay folks some legal rights but call it something other than marriage. We have been down that road before in this country. Separate is not equal. The rights to liberty and happiness belong to each of us and on the same terms, without regard to either skin color or sexual orientation."
Justice will not prevail in our Republic until our U.S. 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." You have been such a daring and outspoken voice in the House, Congressman, would you not be willing to take up the cause of this amendment? I know that some would argue that the country is not ready for this change, but if the most recent election has taught us anything, it is that no one can be sure what change the country is ready for until someone tries to lead it there.
I trust you to give this matter due consideration, Congressman, and to act in any case with the same conscientious integrity you have displayed throughout your legislative career. Thank you for your service and your attention in this matter. I hope this message finds you well.