Today I continue with Senator Roland Burris, Democrat, junior senator from Illinois:
To the Honorable Roland W. Burris,
I write to you soliciting your support for a Marriage Equality Amendment to the federal constitution that would recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry throughout the United States. 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." Such a change to our basic law is necessary to bring our institutions into alignment with the natural rights of all of our citizens.
You have been eloquent in exalting the cause of civil rights, declaring: "America's story is a story of ever greater equality- of expanding inclusiveness. Thanks to all those who came before us, this nation is more free, more fair, and more equal than the nation of our forefathers. We are all a part of this story- in fact, it is up to us to write the next chapter." These words are resoundingly true, and it is with the issue of marriage equality that the "next chapter" in the great struggle for civil rights begins.
Though our nation is more fair than it once was, our marriage laws arbitrarily discriminate against tens of thousands of families, with cruel effect. Children are impoverished or subjected to insecurity because their parents' union is unrecognized. Couples that have been together for decades are kept apart or prevented from giving one-another vital assistance because their love does not meet the test of social prejudice. In 1967, in the case of Loving versus Virginia, the Supreme Court ruled that to deny citizens' the right to marry on the basis of race was a violation of the fundamental principles at the core of human happiness and fulfillment. That same violation continues today for millions of Americans, because society deems it acceptable to discriminate on the basis of gender where it does not on the basis of race. This is not justice. It is, rather, a call to action- to write our portion of the story of which, as you say, we are all a part.
Though the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees all citizens "the equal protection of the law," that safeguard has obviously failed to prevent millions from being deprived of rights of marriage equality. A Marriage Equality Amendment is thus necessary to redress the moral injustice perpetuated by the current state of our laws. Your post in the senate gives you a powerful platform from which to address this issue, Senator. Would you be the voice that speaks up in support of the right? Such an act would inspire millions, and would perfectly embody the principles you so eloquently espoused. Whatever your decision, I thank you for your attention on this matter and extend my best wishes for the new year. I hope this letter finds you well.