Thursday, June 11, 2009

Georgia (III) Congressman Jack Kingston

Today I continue with Congressman Jack Kingston, Republican, representative of Georgia's 1st Congressional District:

Dear Congressman Kingston,

I write in protest of your opposition to marriage equality. As a senior member of the Republican caucus, you led debate in the House in support of House Joint Resolution 88, which proposed an amendment to the federal constitution that would have established marital discrimination within our basic law. During that debate you offered several specious arguments in support of the resolution, for example:

"Mr. Speaker, I would point out that if this amendment does, in fact, make marriage, well, discriminate, and the opponents want to make marriage more inclusive, then is it not also true that we should and will broaden the definition of marriage, so that as Mr. Forbes from Virginia pointed out it is not merely a matter of one same-sex couple....But why are we tripping over the word ``couple''? Why can't marriage be three people or four people? Why can't it be a combination, if that is what we are talking about."

This is a rehearsal of one of the most fallacious canards put forward by opponents of marriage equality. Marriage is such a profoundly powerful and important institution in our society precisely because the relationship effected by the marital bond is unique. A citizen can have many friends, siblings, and co-workers, but he or she can only have one spouse. An individual is free to choose one person to whom he or she is intimately and intensely joined. Because this relationship is both voluntary and unique it is especially privileged within our institutional system: married status carries with it 1,138 discrete benefits and protections under federal law. Opening the marital bond to multiple partners would fundamentally alter these aspects of marriage, making it resemble other more common relationships that enjoy fewer protections and privileges.

Opening the marital bond to partners of the same sex does not in any way alter the voluntary and unique nature of marriage. Moreover, because a citizen is free to choose only one person with whom to share this extraordinarily significant legal relationship, basic fairness dictates that the state must place the fewest possible restrictions on that choice. If two unrelated and consenting adults profess to love, honor, and respect one-another, the fact that they are of the same sex does not constitute fair cause to deny them the legal protections of marriage. Acknowledging the right of same-sex couples to marry thus does not in any way constitute a "slippery slope" leading to the legalization of polygamy. Marriage between same-sex partners is founded upon the same principles of mutual care and fidelity that have been the legal basis of marriage since the founding of our Republic.

For these reasons, I and others propose that the U.S. constitution must be amended in precisely the opposite manner proposed by you and your Republican colleagues. 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." Only when the constitution is thus amended or interpreted will our laws and institutions be brought into alignment with the basic rights of our citizens.

I have set out to write every member of Congress seeking support for such a Marriage Equality Amendment. Perhaps on reflection you will see the error of your current stance and lend your voice to this cause. 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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