Monday, April 20, 2009

Florida (I) Senator Bill Nelson

Today I begin my correspondence with Florida's Congressional delegation with Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat, senior senator from that state:

Dear Senator Nelson,

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. Though you have supported the establishment of same-sex "civil unions" and voted against the so-called "Marriage Protection Amendment," you have opposed the establishment of full marriage equality, asserting that marriage should only be "between a man and a woman." I hope you may be persuaded to reconsider your views on this issue.

In response to a campaign ad run by Senator Mel Martinez, in which he called upon you to support the so-called "Marriage Protection Amendment," you stated: "throughout our history, the Constitution has always guaranteed civil rights, not taken them away." In so declaring you acknowledged the clear and compelling principle underlying marriage equality, Senator. Marriage to the consenting partner of one's choice is a civil right, one that is not vulnerable to the will of the majority and should be federally protected. Acknowledging that two people of the same gender may be married (in other words, that they may love, honor and cherish one-another in mutual fidelity) poses no threat to the institution of marriage itself or to society at large. Refusing to do so, however, causes real human suffering for millions of Americans on a daily basis and at a personal level. Being denied married status deprives a couple (according to the Government Accountability Office) of 1,138 benefits and protections enjoyed by married couples under federal law. Most unconscionable is the plight of children in the care of same-sex guardians, who are arbitrarily robbed of the protections and security that the children of heterosexual couples may take for granted.

The current state of discrimination and injustice cannot stand. What then, should be done? At this moment the clash of progressive values with entrenched prejudice has produced an ever-more byzantine patchwork of conflicting conventions and legalities. This is neither fair to the citizens of America nor good for the institution of marriage: one of the enduring strengths of the marital bond has been its universal portability from state to state (indeed, from nation to nation). The surest and most durable redress 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."

I have set out to write every member of Congress seeking support for this change to our basic law. I hope that you will see the wisdom and justice of this measure and lend it your voice in the Senate. In any case I trust you to act conscientiously and thank you for your attention on this matter. I hope this message finds you well.


Andrew Meyer

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