Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Florida (IV) Congressman Allen Boyd

Today I continue with Congressman Allen Boyd, Democrat, representative of Florida's 2nd Congressional District:

Dear Congressman Boyd,

I write to respectfully urge you to change your stance with regard to marriage equality. In the past you have crossed party lines to vote in favor of the so-called "Marriage Protection Amendment" that would have banned same-sex marriage throughout the United States. That initiative had little chance of passage, and was largely perceived as a GOP political stunt. Since 2006, however, the issue of marriage equality has gathered increasing force and urgency. The rights of same-sex couples have been recognized in four states and prospects are good that the scope of this progress will widen. At the same time, the opponents of marriage equality have focused and accelerated their efforts to block or roll back the advancing tide of civil liberties. Travesties like Proposition 8 have actually succeeded in nullifying rights already won by American citizens, a kind of odious regression rare in our nation's history.

The stakes are thus much higher now than when you voted with the GOP. Decisions made over the next few years will materially impact the lives and welfare of millions of Americans for years to come, and every citizen must commit to a conscientious choice in the knowledge that the future of his or her compatriots hangs in the balance. Your record suggests that your thinking regarding the rights and concerns of LGBT citizens has evolved in recent years. The Human Rights Campaign gave you ratings of 0, 25, and 67 percent, respectively, over the last three Congresses. During this same period you yourself took pro-active steps to forge links with the Floridian LGBT community. It is my hope that this dynamism of perspective might extend to a full reversal of your former stance on marriage equality.

This is not a matter of enforcing party discipline for petty doctrinaire reasons. As a lifelong Democrat, I hope that the party can be a "big tent" and can appreciate an elected official who takes a conscientious stand in opposition to the partisan consensus. This is not an issue that is amenable to distinctions of degree, however. If one believes that marriage to the consenting partner of one's choice is an inalienable right, one must commit to full marriage equality for all citizens as a matter of law. If one insists that same-sex couples must not be admitted to the marital bond, one must do so in the full awareness that this will deny millions of Americans 1,138 legal benefits and protections that automatically flow to married couples under federal law. Perhaps you have some explanation why this does not make LGBT Americans second-class citizens, Congressman. I do not.

As a married husband and father I was very upset by the passage of Proposition 8 in California. It never occurred to my wife and I that entering into an institution from which our compatriots were abitrarily excluded bore a moral burden, and that complacency was born from a latent faith that as our nation moved forward, natural progress would occur in the realm of marriage equality. It is clear now, however, that "natural progress" will not occur without the principled and active commitment of conscientious citizens and leaders.

For that reason I have set out to write every member of Congress, seeking support for a Marriage Equality Amendment that would secure 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." This reform is the surest means to ensuring that our fellow citizens may not be denied the security and happiness that marriage has facilitated for my wife, myself, and our daughter.

Support for a Marriage Equality Amendment would obviously entail high political risk, especially in light of your past voting record. Given what is at stake, however, I appeal to you to give this measure due consideration and reflection. Whatever your ultimate choice, I thank you for your attention on this matter and hope this message finds you well.


Andrew Meyer

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