November 1, 2005
I urge you to oppose all attempts to pass the Marriage Protection Amendment. The proposed amendment does nothing to protect marriage as it exists -- but much to destroy whatever hope gays and lesbians have to experience the same "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness" taken for granted by other Americans.
Last week religious leaders and social conservatives within the Republican Party celebrated their power to undermine a Supreme Court nomination. This week they are attempting to block a minority of citizens from attaining the basic human rights guaranteed by the U. S. Constitution.
Because they supported Republican candidates for Congress, the groups opposed to equality demand an entitlement to their choice of federal judges and to a Constitutional amendment that furthers their political views. They build such demands on reminders of the "twenty years or more" they have spent "fighting in the trenches" for their agenda.
Unlike their twenty-year wait, my wait to enjoy the rights promised by the US Constitution has been not for twenty or thirty or forty years -- but for my entire life. Along the way I have fulfilled a military obligation. I have been a law-abiding citizen. I have served my community and worked to build a better future for the country I love.
My ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War, and every war since, to protect our homeland. Every time they put their lives on the line, they did so alongside gays and lesbians -- patriots who also bled and died to ensure that "all men are created equal" applied to the minority as well as the majority.
So, I am not amused by the voices of prejudice and oppression who demand that my rights shall be ignored forever. I do not intend to disappear from the face of the earth because they are offended by my existence or my expectation of legal equality.
The opponents of same-sex marriage, or its legal equivalent, have never explained how the granting of equal rights -- whatever those rights are called -- deprives anyone else of his or her own rights and personal convictions.
Where are the proposals to deny straights their choice of marriage partners? Where are the proposals to force anyone, gay or straight, into a same-sex marriage? They do not exist.
Perhaps I've missed a big story out of Massachusetts, but indications are that legalized gay marriage has not caused the cancellation of traditional wedding ceremonies, the closing of churches, the breakup of heterosexual families or the abuse of a single child. In fact, Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate in the nation -- half the rate of states in which legal rights for gays are most vehemently opposed. (Divorce Rates by State)
Senator, I appeal to you, before you support anti-gay legislation, to try putting yourself into the shoes of your fellow citizens:
What if you knew that you could never, for your entire lifetime, legally marry the person you love? You could never experience any relationship that resembles marriage? You could never expect the family security that even convicted criminals take for granted? You could never adopt children, even the biological children of your life partner?
What would you do? Would you live your entire life in shame or denial? Would you accept the morality espoused by Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and Pat Robertson over your own humanity, spirituality and life experience? Or would you demand your birthright as a human being and an American citizen?
The proponents of anti-gay legislation base their arguments upon religious doctrine and personal conviction, yet they would never, under any circumstance, accept an amended Constitution reflecting my religious beliefs and my personal convictions. How, under our Constitution, did their beliefs and convictions become superior to mine?
Senator, I hope that you agree with me that we are never safe in basing laws for everyone upon the religious views of some, whether those beliefs belong to me or to the people whose goal is to destroy my rights. All of us are better served -- even in the practice of religion itself -- by laws derived not from religion or personal prejudice, but from an acceptance of equality and a respect for our differences. That is what our country's greatest document demands, both in spirit and in letter.
I beg you to resist the voices of prejudice, demagoguery and political opportunism. Please do not allow the destruction of the American dream. Not only would a Constitutional amendment damage the lives of American citizens, it would destroy the very foundation upon which our country was established.