Monday, July 20, 2009
Dear Senator Akaka,
I write seeking your support for a Marriage Equality Amendment that would recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry across the United States. In 2006, you rose on the floor of the Senate to speak in opposition to Senate Joint Resolution 1 of the 109th Congress, proposing a so-called "Marriage Protection Amendment" to the U.S. constitution that would have instituted marital discrimination nationwide, even in states where marriage equality rights had already been recognized. In your remarks, you declared:
"The proposed Marriage Protection Amendment directly contradicts one of the Constitution's fundamental principles-the guarantee of equal protection for all. Since the adoption of the Bill of Rights in 1791, the Constitution has been amended only 17 times and, with the exception of prohibition, each time it has been to expand the rights of the American people. Adoption of the Marriage Protection Amendment would tarnish that rich tradition by targeting a specific group for social, economic and civic discrimination. I believe that, as government leaders, it is our responsibility to protect individual liberties, not to take them away or restrict them....This amendment will only serve to segregate a portion of our population and prevent them from participating as full citizens. Instead I urge us all to work together to ensure that the freedoms enumerated by the Constitution can be equally enjoyed by all."
You eloquently articulated the philosophical and constitutional imperative underlying the movement for marriage equality, Senator. As you note, marriage equality is not an extraordinary privilege or special consideration, but a fundamental corollary of the 14th Amendment's promise of "the equal protection of the laws." As long as an entire class of citizens is arbitrarily excluded from the marital bond, the founding vision of our Republic remains unrealized.
Because the current state of marital apartheid that prevails in 45 states is intolerable, I and others 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." Though, as you noted in other remarks, marriage law has traditionally been the purview of the states, this federal guarantee of marriage equality is a liberal safeguard wholly consonant with established tradition and constitutional precedent, as exemplified by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the case of Loving v. Virginia.
I have set out to write every member of Congress seeking support for this Marriage Equality Amendment. If you truly hold to heart the principles you expressed in 2006, please lend your voice again to this fair and just reform. In any case, I thank you for your attention on this matter and hope this message finds you well.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Dear Senator Inouye,
I write seeking your support for a Marriage Equality Amendment that would recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry throughout the U.S. 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 and most durable means to establish justice and equity within our society and legal institutions.
Though efforts to establish marriage equality in Hawaii have been thwarted, you have shown yourself sympathetic to the cause on the national stage. You have taken a politically courageous stand against attempts to hinder or roll back marriage equality, voting against both the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" and the so-called "Marriage Protection Amendment." This last stand was made a special point of contention by your Republican opponent in your last reelection campaign.
Having witnessed the internment of fellow Japanese-Americans during WWII, you well understand the urgency of the 14th Amendment's pledge that all deserve "the equal protection of the laws," and have personal experience of the tragedy that ensues when that pledge is broken. As a Medal of Honor recipient you speak with the moral authority of one who has given the highest measure of devotion in defense of the Republic and its principles. Your support of a Marriage Equality Amendment could profoundly alter the state of national discourse on this vital civil rights question.
I have set out to write every member of Congress seeking sponsorship for this change to our basic law. Perhaps on reflection you will choose to lend it your considerable authority. In any case I thank you for your attention and for your great service to our nation, and I hope this message finds you well.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Dear Congressman Scott,
I write to urge you to change your stance on the issue of marriage equality. In the past you have crossed party lines to vote in favor of the so-called "Marriage Protection Amendment" that would have denied same-sex couples the right to marry throughout the United States. Such an amendment, if passed, would have rebelled against the founding spirit of our Republic, as it would have withdrawn recognition of natural rights already being enjoyed by citizens in certain states.
The current movement for marriage equality is an extension of that begun in 1967, with the Supreme Court's decision in Loving v. Virginia. The same principle the court upheld then with respect to race holds true today with respect to gender and sexual identity. The state can not arbitrarily exclude citizens from the institution of marriage. Denial of the 1,138 legal benefits and protections of marriage solely on the basis of gender is discrimination, pure and simple.
Because progress has been slow and powerful forces seek to hinder or roll it back, I and others propose that the U.S. 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 establish justice and basic fairness in our society and institutions. I have set out to write every member of Congress seeking support for this measure.
Your voting record demonstrates that you are not entirely unsympathetic to the concerns of LGBT Americans and their struggle for equal rights. I would urge you to give further consideration to this issue, and to align yourself with the forces that will secure you the most positive legacy as a legislator and civic leader. In any case I thank you for your attention on this matter and hope this message finds you well.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Dear Congressman Barrow,
I write to urge you to change your position regarding marriage equality. In the past you have crossed party lines and joined efforts to deny same-sex couples their right to marry. On the wise decision of Fulton County Superior Court Judge Constance C. Russell to strike down a Georgia state ban on marriage equality enacted by referendum, you declared:
“I believe that any individual has the right to live his or her life as they please within
the law, but I also believe that marriage should follow law and tradition and remain
between a man and a woman."
This is an exercise in circular reasoning, Congressman. On the one hand you aver that all have the right to live as they please within the law, on the other you declare that the law should be configured so as to deny thousands the right to live as they please. Such tepid wording does not cut to the crux of the issue, moreover. At stake is not merely a question of personal pleasure or convenience, but the health, security, and general welfare of myriad Americans, many of them children. Marriage carries with it 1,138 legal benefits and protections. Those couples attempting to build families and maintain homes outside of the shelter of the marital bond (and any children that might be in their care) suffer real deprivation and hardship as a result. How does such a situation fulfill our nation's founding promise of the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" or the 14th Amendment's guarantee of the "equal protection of the laws?"
Basic fairness requires that marriage equality be instituted not only in Georgia, but nationwide. To that end, I and others have proposed that the U.S. 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." I have set out to write every member of Congress seeking support for this Marriage Equality Amendment.
Marriage equality is the great civil rights struggle of our generation, and in your opposition to this good cause you imperil your place in the eyes of posterity. Perhaps on reflection you will recant your current views and join the fight against discrimination. In any case I thank you for your attention on this matter and hope this message finds you well.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Dear Congressman Gingrey:
I write in protest of your opposition to marriage equality. In 2006 you were very vocal in your support of the so-called "Marriage Protection Amendment." In your remarks on the floor of the House during that debate, you declared:
"This Amendment has nothing whatsoever to do with exclusion but has everything to do with protecting the traditional and historical definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman. And, contrary to what the opponents of this resolution will say today, this Amendment will simply PRESERVE the traditional definition of marriage as it has existed for millennia."
Your argument begins with a fallacy. If one searches the records of history, one of course finds that there has never been one historical and enduring definition of marriage, certainly not one limiting it to a "union between one man and one woman." Polygamy was widely practiced for many centuries, and same-sex unions have been commonplace in certain cultures and eras, extending up to the present day. Even if one limits "real marriage" to some notion of a "Judaeo-Christian" tradition (though why one should in a system dedicated to the separation of church and state is dubious at best), one must acknowledge that marriage has changed radically over the course of recent years, to accommodate society's evolving understanding of the nature of individual rights and personal autonomy. If the public voted to restore certain "historical" dimensions of marriage, such as the power of families to force their members into arranged marriage or the lack of protection against spousal rape, would that serve the interest of justice?
Beyond your appeal to a fictional "millenia-old" definition of marriage, you posited other specious arguments in support of discrimination:
"[T]his Amendment is in response to a few activist judges are trying to throw out the definition of marriage along with over 200 years of American judicial precedent. These judges and these judges alone made this matter an issue, and they did so without one vote cast in either a legislature or at the ballot box. These activist judges substituted legal precedent and the will of the American people with their own personal desires and political beliefs. Their decision to scrap the traditional definition of marriage has forced us to now consider enshrining the definition of marriage into our Constitution.
Mr. Speaker, like most of my colleagues, I would prefer to not have to address this issue in this manner. Unfortunately, I know my constituents and a strong majority of the American people want us to defend the traditional definition of marriage. A poll by the New York Times, not exactly a bastion of right wing conservatism, found that 59%, I repeat, 59% of Americans favor an amendment to the Constitution stating that marriage is a union between one man and one woman."The decisions of courts in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Iowa can only be deemed "judicial activism" if one ignores their philosophical and jurisprudential bases. The Founders established the powers of the independent judiciary as a safeguard for the rights of individual citizens against the tyrrany of the majority, and that is precisely the role that the courts have played in upholding the principle of marriage equality. This is not a recent move by the courts, moreover, but a precedent that extends back decades. At the time that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down so-called "anti-miscegenation" laws back in 1967, such laws had broad popular support in much of the United States, and would have passed any referendum test. The Supreme Court held that two people could not be kept apart simply because their neighbors deemed them to be of a different "race," that such meddling by the community was a breach of each citizen's right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." By your reckoning, Loving v. Virginia was no less an instance of "judicial activism" than the more recent decisions upholding marriage equality handed down by state courts.
Call it what you like, Loving v. Virginia was justice, and an expression of the best principles at the heart of our system of laws. I would hazard to guess that you share my admiration of the court's actions in Loving v. Virginia, Congressman. If so, the difference you perceive between that movement toward marriage equality and what transpires today does not reflect your opposition to judicial activism, but your embrace of one form of discrimination even as you reject others.
Marriage equality is the great civil rights struggle of our generation. Posterity will look back and judge harshly those who stand against it today, just as we look back in shock and disgust at those who supported the "anti-miscegenation" laws struck down in 1967. Unfortunately, many share your views. Progress has been slow and difficult, and powerful forces are gathered to hinder it or roll it back. For that reason, I and others propose that the U.S. 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 means to establishing fairness and justice within our society and laws.
I have set out to write every member of Congress seeking support fo this change to our basic law. Perhaps on reflection you will recant your discriminatory policies and redeem your place in the future history of our Republic. In any case I thank you for your attention on this matter and hope this message finds you well.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Dear Congressman Broun,
I write in protest of your opposition to marriage equality. This year you reintroduced legislation that would have amended the U.S. constitution to bar marriage equality throughout the Union, despite its repeated failure to win ratification in previous Congresses and its acute lack of support in the current legislature. Your quixotic devotion to the cause of discrimination might seem quaint if it were not so mean-spirited and frighteningly illiberal.
You cited the recent recognition of marriage equality rights in several states as the motivation for your current initiative. I and others perceive the situation in diametrically opposed terms. Now that American citizens in five state finally are enjoying the natural and inalienable rights that were theirs all along, we only fear that misguided leaders such as you will roll back the tide of progress and return our compatriots to a condition of oppression. Moreover, we can not help but be dismayed that citizens in forty-five states still live in the dark ages. For these reasons, we propose that the constitution be amended in precisely the opposite manner you propose, so as 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 Marriage Equality Amendment.
Perhaps on reflection you will see the error of your views and cease your campaign against the rights of fellow Americans. In any case, I thank you for your attention on this matter and hope this message finds you well.