Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Florida (XV) Congressman Vern Buchanan

Today I continue with Congressman Vern Buchanan, Republican, representative of Florida's 13th Congressional District:

Dear Congressman Buchanan,

I write in protest of your opposition to marriage equality. In your first term in Congress you supported a federal constitutional amendment that would have denied the right to marry to same-sex couples throughout the United States. More generally, you earned a 0% rating for your voting record on issues of concern to LGBT citizens from the Human Rights Campaign.

These aspects of your performance manifest a basic failing of fairness and empathy on your part. Your website understandably broadcasts your pride in your marriage of more than thirty years and your fatherhood of two grown children. With your own experience of how profoundly significant marriage can be toward the achievement of personal fulfillment, why would you seek to discriminate against fellow Americans who seek nothing more than the happiness you have been so blessed as to enjoy?

Like you I am a husband and a father, and because my wife is of a different gender I have never been forced to contemplate how difficult life would be if my family did not enjoy the 1,138 legal benefits and protections that flow to married couples under federal law. You and I may take the secure shelter of marriage for granted, but that does not excuse our being complacent in seeing it arbitrarily denied to other citizens- quite the contrary. Because, as you and I know, marriage is such a potentially powerful means toward the enrichment of life and the pursuit of happiness, the freedom to marry the consenting partner of one's choice is an inalienable right that cannot reasonably be denied to millions of Americans to satisfy social prejudice. That was the finding of the Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia in 1967, when it declared all so-called "anti-miscegenation" laws at the state level unconstitutional. The same principle of marriage equality that informed the Court in 1967 applies in the case of same-sex couples today.

Unfortunately, the forces of discrimination that would block progress toward full marriage equality are well-organized and well-funded. Aggressive measures are thus required to rescue Americans suffering today under the yoke of unjust laws. I and others therefore propose that the federal 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 Marriage Equality Amendment is the surest and most durable means to bring our institutions into alignment with the basic rights of all Americans.

I have set out to write every member of Congress seeking support for this change to our basic law. A reversal on this issue would no doubt draw criticism, but it would have the virtue of redeeming your place in the future history of our Republic. Marriage equality is the great civil rights issue of our generation, and it would be regrettable for you to be remembered as an agent of intolerance and discrimination when the annals of our time are written. Perhaps on reflection you will see the error of your current stance. In any case I thank you for your attention on this matter and hope this message finds you well.


Andrew Meyer

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