Friday, February 17, 2012

Decision Time on Marriage Equality

As a vote nears on marriage equality in Maryland it remains unclear whether the votes are there to pass the measure.

I offer the following as encouragement to wavering Democrats and Republicans.

For Democrats:
Writing in 2003 Rep. John Lewis, one of America's greatest heroes of the Civil Rights movement, declared in no uncertain terms “I have fought too hard and for too long against discrimination based on race and color not to stand up against discrimination based on sexual orientation. I’ve heard the reasons for opposing civil marriage for same-sex couples. Cut through the distractions, and they stink of the same fear, hatred and intolerance I have known in racism and in bigotry.”

For Republicans:
Ted Olson, Solicitor General under George W. Bush wrote this in 2010 "Many of my fellow conservatives have an almost knee-jerk hostility toward gay marriage. This does not make sense, because same-sex unions promote the values conservatives prize. Marriage is one of the basic building blocks of our neighborhoods and our nation. At its best, it is a stable bond between two individuals who work to create a loving household and a social and economic partnership. We encourage couples to marry because the commitments they make to one another provide benefits not only to themselves but also to their families and communities. Marriage requires thinking beyond one's own needs. It transforms two individuals into a union based on shared aspirations, and in doing so establishes a formal investment in the well-being of society. The fact that individuals who happen to be gay want to share in this vital social institution is evidence that conservative ideals enjoy widespread acceptance. Conservatives should celebrate this, rather than lament it."

Even Dick Cheney support same-sex marriage!

For Democrats and Republicans:
Fifty years ago, many states declared that African-Americans were not free to marry the person of their choosing. For a reason as arbitrary as the color of one's skin, a basic civil right was denied. Today, even more states deny the right to marry based on sexual orientation - is that truly any less arbitrary?

In Loving v Virginia, the 1967 Supreme Court decision that outlawed bans on interracial marriage in the U.S., the court declared marriage to be a fundamental civil right. I would ask every delegate two simple questions - Will you stand up for equality? Will you support this fundamental civil right?

The 14th Amendment to the Constitution states "no State shall... deny to any person the equal protection of the laws." Your vote today will determine whether that amendment has any meaning.