Thursday, February 12, 2009

California (XXXII) Congressman Henry Waxman

Today I continue with Congressman Henry Waxman, Democrat, representative of California's 30th Congressional District:

Dear Congressman Waxman,

I write soliciting your support for a Marriage Equality Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry throughout the Union. You have been a consistent proponent of civil rights in the House, and have been especially forthright and eloquent in your championship of marriage equality. In defiance of the so-called "Marriage Protection Amendment" you made a statement on the House floor which included the following:

"Our Constitution has guided our nation for 200 years. During that time, it has been amended to guarantee religious liberty, equal protection, and the right to vote. Not once has it been amended to take away rights from a specific group of people. Yet that is what this legislation would do...

Mr. Speaker, our fellow citizens deserve better. Same-sex couples are trying to raise families, pay the bills, get health care for their partners, and put their kids through college. Instead of working to help them, we are debating whether to permanently deny them over 1,000 rights and benefits given to married heterosexual couples. We should be striving for fairness and equality, not singling them out for discrimination...."

Your words were unquestionably true then and remain so now, Congressman. Your statement of fact underscores an urgent imperative, however. If we acknowledge that same-sex couples already have the right to marry, we must also acknowledge that they are systematically denied the enjoyment of that right throughout most of the United States. This is the very epitome of the kind of problem that our federal system was designed to redress: the protection of minority rights against discrimination, even discrimination sanctioned by the majority. On this principle the Supreme Court upheld the principle of marriage equality against racial discrimination in Loving v. Virginia in 1967, and analogous action must be taken now to end discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation. Though state initiatives have made some progress in advancing marriage equality, they will obviously not be enough. Discriminatory forces are well organized, well funded, and determined to use all methods at both the state and federal levels to not only preserve but expand and deepen the current condition of marital apartheid.

The surest and most durable way to secure the rights of all Americans would be to amend the U.S. Constitution 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." As your floor statement implies, such a reform would be consistent with the great tradition that has guided the evolution of our Constitution throughout the nation's history. I have set out to write every member of Congress seeking support for this change to our basic law.

Will you take up the cause of this amendment among your colleagues in the House and Senate, Congressman? Such advocacy would be a fitting continuation of your long work in defense of civil rights and the welfare of Americans more generally. In any case I thank you for your attention on this matter, and I hope this message finds you well.


Andrew Meyer

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