Dear Congresswoman Degette:
I write seeking your support for a Marriage Equality Amendment that would recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry throughout the United States. You have been admirably outspoken about your support for marriage equality. At a rally in Denver in 2004 opposing the so-called "Marriage Protection Amendment" you delivered the following prepared remarks:
"This is fundamentally a question of whether two people in a committed relationship should have the same rights as every other American couple. It is unconscionable that any politicians should seek to prevent other Americans from the ability to see their loved ones in the hospital, from sharing health insurance or health decisions, from sharing survivor and inheritance benefits. But that is exactly what supporters of the amendment seek to do.
Our opponents will claim that this not about discrimination, but about protecting the sanctity of marriage. Well, I have been married for more than fifteen years. Allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry will not impact the sanctity of my marriage one bit. Any married couple that thinks legalizing gay marriage will hurt their relationship needs a marriage counselor, not a Constitutional amendment.
In fact, we are seeing the power and sanctity of marriage in the hundreds of gay and lesbian couples who have lined up at City Hall in San Francisco this weekend to get married. Their weddings have only strengthened the institution of marriage.
All of us stand with them today and with the hundreds of thousands of Colorado families who oppose enshrining intolerance and discrimination of the right in our Constitution. Together, we will make sure that our founding document continues to protect the rights of all Americans, gay or straight, married or not. "Like you I feel that marriage equality "is fundamentally a question of whether two people in a committed relationship should have the same rights as every other American couple." As you suggest, everything about our nation's history and traditional values dictate that the answer to this question is a resounding "yes." Marriage to the partner of one's choice is an inalienable right, one that is systematically denied to millions of citizens and should be federally protected.
Travesties like Proposition 8 in California demonstrate that progress will not be made on this issue without aggressive and sustained action. That is why I propose that the U.S. constitution 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." Such a change to our basic law is the surest and most durable way to bring our institutions into alignment with the fundamental rights of our citizens.
The fight for a Marriage Equality Amendment would no doubt be long, difficult, and fraught with uncertainty. With the support of a conscientious public servant like yourself, however, it could change the discourse in our country, demonstrating to both opponents and supporters of marriage equality the seriousness and urgency of this issue.
I have set out to write every member of Congress seeking support for this amendment. My letters are collected on a weblog at: http://marriageequalityamendment.blogspot.com/. I hope that you will lend your proven energy and integrity to this cause. In any case, I thank you for your attention on this matter and extend my best wishes for the success of the 111th Congress.