Dear Congressman Stark,
I write you as a fellow American to solicit your support for a Marriage Equality Amendment that would recognize the rights of same-sex couples to marry throughout the Republic. A senior member of the House's progressive caucus, you have long been an outspoken defender of the rights of marriage equality. On September 30, 2004 you rose on the floor of the House to deliver a statement in opposition to the so-called "Marriage Protection Amendment," saying:
"The right-wing political machine is churning out divisive legislation at a record pace as we get close to the election, but this is a new low. They would, for the first time ever, target a specific group of Americans in our most sacred document, and permanently ban them from having equal rights under the law.
This proposed amendment not only bans marriage, but any of the "legal incidents thereof," meaning that the supporters of this amendment think our founding document should keep gay and lesbian couples from filing a joint tax return, inheriting property, or visiting their partner in the hospital....Apparently, there are a lot of things the supporters of this amendment don't understand about our government:
The Constitution has always defined the limitations of government and liberties of people, not the other way around.
Citizens of the United States are guaranteed equal treatment under the law, even if they aren't popular."
Your words not only encapsulate many of the most cogent arguments in support of marriage equality, Congressman, but identify the urgent necessity to rise in defense of those rights at this moment in our history. As you rightly point out, the campaign to block or roll back the recognition of marital rights for same-sex couples represents a "new low" in the annals of illiberal political movements in our country. It is not enough merely to vote down regressive legislation like the bill you stood to oppose. Travesties like California's Proposition 8 demonstrate that the forces of intolerance and oppression are implacably determined to carry on their campaign against the rights of their fellow citizens, no matter how many setbacks they encounter.
It is time for the forces of right and justice to go on the offensive. Positive steps must be taken to secure and maintain the equal rights of every citizen to marry the partner of his or her choice. To that end, the 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." Will you take up the cause of this amendment, or one like it, with your colleagues in the House and Senate, Congressman?
I hope you shall lend this cause your energy and your efforts. In any case, I thank you for your long service to our nation and your attention on this matter. Please accept my best wishes for the success of the 111th Congress.