Saturday, April 4, 2009

Connecticut (I) Senator Chris Dodd

Today I begin corresponding with Connecticut's Congressional delegation with Senator Chris Dodd, senior senator from that state:

Dear Senator Dodd,

I write soliciting your support for a Marriage Equality amendment that would recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry throughout the United States. Such an amendment would 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." Your record regarding marriage equality has been somewhat ambivalent, Senator. During your recent presidential campaign you spoke out in favor of "civil unions," noting that you would want some guarantees of your young daughters' rights should they grow up to be of a different sexual orientation from their parents. But you have consistently opposed full marriage equality for same-sex couples, casting a vote in favor of the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" in 1996.

Creating a separate institution for same-sex couples will not help your daughters or any of the millions of Americans that are arbitrarily and unjustly excluded from the marriage bond, however. As was proven during the Civil Rights Movement of the '50's and '60's and has been demonstrated by hard experience ever since, separate is never equal. The full range of protections and guarantees flowing from marriage (1, 138 of them under federal law, according to the Government Accountability Office) can never be engineered into a novel institution. Even if they were, the patchwork of divergent terms and conventions adopted by the individual states guarantees that "civil unions" and "domestic partnerships" will never possess the same portability and legal force of marriage, consigning all couples restricted to such arrangements to perpetual second-class citizenship. Is this what you would wish upon your daughters, Senator?

Marriage is among the most fundamental and definitive social acts a citizen may undertake; it is the one kinship relationship that we may freely choose. Denial of the right to marry the consenting partner of one's choice thus amounts to nothing less than an assault upon an individual's capacity for "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." In casting your vote against the so-called "Marriage Protection Amendment" you noted that though there have been over 11,000 proposed amendments to our constitution, only 27 have been adopted. This, you observed, was because "our Nation's constitutional history clearly demonstrates that change to our Constitution is appropriate on only the rarest occasions--specifically, to correct problems in the government structure or to expand the category of individual rights."

The present need for full marriage equality is one of those "rarest occasions" on which Constitutional reform is necessary. Not only are millions of Americans systematically being denied their rights, but well-funded and highly energized groups are mobilized to deepen and expand the conditions of discrimination that currently prevail throughout most of the U.S. Aggressive action is needed if a fair and just society is ever to be achieved.

In closing I turn your own illustrative example upon you, Senator. If one of your two daughters does grow up to have a different sexual orientation, do you trust that the status quo would safeguard her dignity and afford her a fair and equal chance for happiness? If not, what type of change would give you peace of mind?

With this question in view, I have set out to write every member of Congress seeking support for a Marriage Equality Amendment. My letters are being collected on a weblog: I hope that you will be convinced of the justness and urgency of this campaign and will lend it your considerable authority. In any case, I thank you for your attention on this matter and for your service to our Nation, and hope this message finds you well.


Andrew Meyer

No comments: