Sunday, March 1, 2009

California (XLIV) Congressman Joe Baca

Today I continue with Congressman Joe Baca, Democrat, representative of California's 43 Congressional District:

Dear Congressman Baca,

I write as a concerned citizen seeking your support for a Marriage Equality Amendment that would recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry throughout the United States. As a long-serving member of the Democratic caucus, you have been a strong advocate for civil rights in the House, fighting for the rights of Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, and veterans, to name only a few groups that have benefited from your concern. Your record with regard to the rights of LGBT citizens has likewise been largely exemplary. You twice voted against a federal amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage nationally.

In the 109th Congress, however, you voted against a repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that continues to discriminate against LGBT soldiers in our military. You also voted against a bill that would have granted recognition of same-sex partnerships among immigrants to the United States. Your son, former California State Assemblyman Joe Baca, Jr., voted against a bill that would have instituted marriage equality at the state level.

These signs of ambivalence toward marriage equality make me fear that you are not prepared to fight aggressively against the forces of discrimination that have been so tragically effective in recent months. The passage of Proposition 8 in California is an enormous setback in the nation's collective struggle for civil rights; it stands as one of the few instances in our history in which recognition of rights already won by a whole class of citizens was nullified. This type of regression is not true to fundamental spirit of America, and must be met with direct and determined action.

The Government Accountability Office lists 1,138 benefits and protections that accrue to a couple from married status under federal law. Moreover, marriage to the partner of one's choice is among the most powerfully transformative social acts a citizen can undertake. It is the foundation of lifelong companionship, family, and community: many of the personal goods most essential to the enjoyment of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." It is for this reason that the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled, in cases such as Loving v. Virginia, Zablocki v. Redhail, and Turner v. Safley, that marriage is "one of the basic civil rights of man."

The surest defense against the kind of bigotry embodied by Proposition 8 would thus 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." Only in the shelter of such unequivocal guarantees will the basic and inalienable rights of all citizens be protected from those who would oppress them. Would you lend your voice to this reform, Congressman? I have set out to write every member of the 111th Congress seeking support for this change to our basic law. I hope that my entreaties will appeal to your proven sense of fairness and civic duty.

Please consider acting upon my request. In any case, I thank you for your attention on this matter, and extend my best wishes for the success of the 111th Congress.


Andrew Meyer

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