Today I continue with Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Democrat, representative of California's 35th Congressional District:
Dear Congresswoman Waters,
I write to solicit your support for a Marriage Equality Amendment to the U.S. constitution, one that would recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry throughout the Union. You have been a staunch champion of civil rights in the House and have a solid record of advocacy for the rights of LGBT citizens (the Human Rights Campaign gave you a positive rating of 90% for the most recent Congress). You were ambivalent, however, in your stance toward California's recently passed Proposition 8, telling a film crew from southern California's station KCET that you were not focused on Proposition 8, but were devoting your energies to the economic crisis.
This was most unfortunate, Congresswoman. The passage of Proposition 8 was a civil rights disaster- one of the rare instances in our nation's history in which recognition of a right that had already been won was withdrawn from citizens already enjoying it. The fact that this perfidy was achieved through the ballot box makes it no less reprehensible.
The promotion and protection of citizens' rights can wait for no other issues to "take priority," as I am sure you would agree on reflection, Congresswoman. What would Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. have said if told that the struggle for enfranchisement would have to wait for the passing of an economic downturn? Moreover, economic difficulties only add urgency to the struggle for rights, as few rights transcend the economic realities of people's lives. Among the 1,138 protections and benefits of marriage that are denied to same-sex couples are many that would materially improve their economic circumstances, such as the right to file joint tax returns or to extend work benefits to one-another (or their partner's children). In times such as these, when any economic advantage can mean the difference between subsistence and deprivation, such discrimination becomes doubly cruel.
Marriage to the partner of one's choice is an inalienable right, one that can not be taken away from any citizen, even by a vote of the majority. Such was the finding of the Supreme Court when it struck down so-called "anti-miscegenation" laws in Loving v. Virginia, and such is the case now despite all the money and rhetoric behind obscenities like Proposition 8. The best and surest way to safeguard rights of marriage equality for 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."
Please consider lending your authority to the promotion of this reform in the House, Congresswoman. Such a change would obviously take long struggle and great effort to achieve, but this is only an argument for why the work can not be deferred until the moment is optimal. There will always be other problems that need dealing with, but none of those contingencies will make the state of marital apartheid that prevails in this country any less unjust, or the need for change any less urgent. I hope that you will join the ranks of those of us fighting for marriage equality, Congresswoman. In any case I thank you for your attention on this matter and extend you my best wishes for the success of the 111th Congress.