Friday, February 20, 2009

California (XXXVII) Congresswoman Jane Harman

Today I continue with Congresswoman Jane Harman, Democrat, representative of California's 36th Congressional District:

Dear Congresswoman Harman,

I write you to solicit your support for a Marriage Equality Amendment that would recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry throughout the Union. You have been an opponent of efforts to use the power of the federal government to block marriage equality since the days of the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)." In 2006, during then President Bush's second campaign to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, you wrote a letter to Joe Solmonese, President of the Human Rights Campaign, in which you said, in part:

"Congress has traditionally amended the Constitution to grant a broader range of rights to Americans, not narrow them. I believe the Constitution should be amended rarely, dispassionately, and only in the interest of expanding and codifying our rights and liberties.
Efforts to make gay marriage a federal issue and in so doing limit the rights of one group of Americans constitute nothing less than government-sanctioned discrimination. It is demeaning to gay Americans, tramples on the rights of states to define community values, and is wholly unworthy of our consideration."

As you so wisely observe, Congresswoman, the so-called "Marriage Protection Amendment" rebelled against the very founding spirit of our Republic, and was thus intrinsically un-American. Though in this and other statements you have expressed a concern for state's rights, I hope that you may be persuaded that any "dispassionate" assessment of "our rights and liberties" as Americans compels the conclusion that the U.S. constitution should be amended in precisely the opposite manner than President Bush proposed. The same principle that made the federal ban on same-sex marriage so heinously discriminatory and un-American makes a Marriage Equality Amendment the next logical step in our nation's ongoing search for a "more perfect Union."

A constitutional amendment is not the only way that marriage equality might be achieved for same-sex couples seeking their basic rights. But the recent debacle in your own state, with the passage of Proposition 8, demonstrates the cruel vulnerability to which same-sex couples are exposed if their welfare is left to the tender mercies of the states. As Loving v. Virginia demonstrated, the rights of the states reach clear limits when their powers begin to impinge upon the basic freedoms of their citizens.

Though the 14th Amendment guarantees all Americans "equal protection of the laws," same-sex couples throughout the nation (and the children in their care) are clearly not enjoying the security promised by this basic tenet. This injustice would be best rectified by amending 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." Such a change to our basic law would most dependably and durably bring the operation of our institutions into alignment with the basic rights of our citizens.

I hope that on reflection you will lend this reform your voice and your efforts, Congresswoman. In any case I thank you for your attention on this matter and extend to you my best wishes for the success of the 111th Congress.


Andrew Meyer

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