Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Georgia (I) Senator Saxby Chambliss

Today I begin my correspondence with Georgia's Congressional delegation with Senator Saxby Chambliss, Republican, senior senator for the state of Georgia:

Dear Senator Chambliss,

I write in protest of your opposition to marriage equality. You were a co-sponsor of Senate Joint Resolution 1 of the 109th Congress, which would have amended the constitution of the United States to deny same-sex couples their right to marry. Had your efforts succeeded, it would have been one of the few occasions on which our basic law was used to restrict citizens' freedom. The shame of such an act would have been epochal, as you sought to permanently and arbitrarily deprive millions of Americans of a fundamental and inalienable right.

If we have two pairs of unrelated adults, both professing to love one another, and the state grants 1,138 benefits and protections to the first but zero to the second, what would have to be true to make that fair? Would the deprived couple have to have committed some heinous crime? What could possibly make such an inequity anything but rank discrimination? Yet today that is precisely the state of affairs we find in most of the nation. A couple may enjoy the 1,138 benefits and protections of marriage (according to the findings of the Government Accountability Office) despite being convicted felons, financially bankrupt, incarcerated in prison, or known pedophiles. The one and only contingency that will exclude them from the shelter of the marital bond is being of the same sex. No other word can describe this form of injustice: it is apartheid, pure and simple.

The enormity of the situation contemplated in the abstract is outweighed only by its concrete human impact in the daily lives of millions of Americans. Thousands of same-sex couples struggle to maintain households and raise families under the handicap of state discrimination. Without rights of joint coverage, shared property, and insured inheritance, same-sex couples must bear extraordinary burdens and make inordinate sacrifices to compensate for their legal vulnerability. Most cruelly affected are the children in the care of same-sex parents. They live without the security that the children of heterosexual couples may take for granted, not because of any choice they made, but because society disapproves of the lifestyle of their parents. To punish the child on account of the parent is a barbarity that most of the world left behind long ago.

To redress these inequities, I and others propose that the U.S. constitution be amended in precisely the opposite manner entailed by your resolution. We would see it 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 sponsorship for this reform.

You should give some thought to your legacy as a legislator, Senator. Marriage equality is the great civil rights struggle of our generation. Posterity will look back on today's leaders and judge them for the stance they took in this contest. Just as we look back with incomprehension and disgust at those who supported slavery or Jim Crow, future Americans will condemn those who stood in the path of progress on the issue of marriage equality. Perhaps on reflection you will see the error of your current stance and come over to the side of right. 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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