Monday, July 20, 2009

Hawaii (II) Senator Daniel Akaka

Today I continue with Senator Daniel Akaka, junior senator from the state of Hawaii:

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.


Andrew Meyer

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