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Bringing the message home

By |2013-04-05T09:00:00-04:00April 5th, 2013|Uncategorized|

By Jay Kaplan

Mothers Day just passed, but between now and Father’s Day (June 20th), a coalition that includes the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Campaign, PFLAG, COLAGE, and the National Black Justice Coalition is asking our community and our allies to do something that every citizen has the right to do: seek a personal visit with your federal Representatives and Senators in their district offices. The Memorial Day congressional recess falls between these two dates, and is the perfect time to seek a face-to-face meeting. It is important that our elected officials see for themselves the face of LGBT families, and hear from our friends and allies who support us. There is nothing more powerful.
In Michigan, we’ve spent a lot of effort and time defeating passage of a Michigan constitutional amendment that would ban any form of legal recognition of same-sex relationships: marriage, civil unions, and domestic partner benefits. The measure failed to pass the State House of Representatives, but is now part of a petition drive. If a sufficient number of signatures is obtained by July 6, 2004, it will be on the November ballot. To become part of our State constitution, it has to be passed by a majority of Michigan voters (unlike the legislature, where a two-thirds vote is needed for passage). Now is the time to make sure that our friends, our neighbors, and our family decline to sign this petition.
What hasn’t received as much attention is a proposal introduced in the United States Senate and House of Representatives to amend our Federal Constitution. The language of this proposed amendment states:
Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.
There are some very important things to note about this proposed amendment. First, the United States Constitution is the highest authority regarding the interpretation of laws. It supersedes state laws and policies. Second, the term “the legal incidents thereof” means that this amendment could cover far more than just marriage. It could include (like Michigan’s proposed amendment) civil unions, domestic partner benefits and a host of other legal recognitions for same-sex couples. The amendment would prohibit any constitutional challenge to the denial of equality for same-sex couples. It also means that Vermont could no longer provide for civil unions. States like Hawaii, New Jersey, and California which currently provide various domestic partner benefits would be prohibited from doing so.
If that’s not bad enough, what President Bush and currently 117 United States Representatives and 13 United States Senators are proposing is a very radical and very drastic idea. They are proposing to write discrimination into the Constitution, singling out LGBT people for less than equal treatment, while at the same time denying all states the right to decide who can get married. Nothing compassionate nor conservative here.
Our United States Constitution is the bedrock for democracy in this country. In its 214 year history, it was first amended to include the Bill of Rights in 1791; since then, the Constitution has only been amended 17 times. When it has been amended it has been to expand and protect the rights and liberties of American people. It has been amended to abolish slavery and give women and young people the right to vote. It has never been used to single out a group of people for discriminatory treatment.
Some supporters of this amendment contend that they are “pro-family” and that they are “pro-children.” If so, how can they justify their support for an amendment that would deny LGBT families and their children fundamental protections such as hospital visitation rights, inheritance rights, health care benefits, and financial support? Nothing pro-family or pro-children about that.
One has to wonder if some of these politicians have thought about the legacy they will leave for generations to come. Is this how they want to be remembered by history?
This is a gratuitous anti-gay amendment and if we have learned nothing more in a post-September 11th world, we know that animus and hate towards people do not make a safer, better world. So in honor of your mother, your father, your children and our community’s future, make an appointment with your federal legislators and tell them to oppose this amendment.
{ITAL Michigan’s U.S. Senators are Carl Levin (Phone: 313-226-6020, web site: http://levin.senate.gov, email: senator@levin.senate.gov) and Debbie Stabenow (Phone: 313-961-4330, web site:
http://stabenow.senate.gov, email: senator@stabenow.senate.gov). For a list of Michigan’s U.S. Representatives visit http://levin.senate.gov/michigan/house.html.}

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.