Tuesday, June 06, 2006


A Shameful Political Ploy

Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 07:59:13 AM PDT

The federal marriage amendment, which would write discrimination into the Constitution, is an obvious attempt to change the subject from topics that the Congress should be addressing to a hot button social issue intended to appeal to certain factions. On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Frist plans to hold a vote on this mean-spirited proposal. It has no chance of receiving the two-thirds majority required for constitutional amendments. The only thing bringing it up now will accomplish is to push Congress further away from the issues it should be addressing and engage the Senate of the United States in a shameful political ploy.

The last thing we should be doing right now is playing politics with the Constitution, or with the lives of gay and lesbian Americans, who see this proposal for what it is - discrimination, pure and simple. Gay and lesbian Americans are our friends, our family members, our neighbors, and our colleagues. They should not be used as pawns in a political exercise.

Backers of the proposal say they want to support marriage. But this debate is not about supporting marriage. Everyone agrees that good and strong marriages should be supported and celebrated. The debate in the Senate is also not about whether states should permit same sex marriage. I happen to believe that two adults who love each other and want to make a lifelong commitment to each other with all of the responsibilities that commitment entails should be able to do so. Others may disagree. But the Senate debate is about whether we should amend the Constitution of the United States to try to define marriage, and restrict, rather than expand, the rights of our citizens. The answer to that question has to be "no."

It's deeply disappointing to see the Senate consider this proposed constitutional amendment, and for such cynical reasons. But it's not enough to just shake our heads at what the Republicans are doing here. I applaud people in the online community for standing up and speaking out against this proposal. This attempt to pass this constitutional amendment isn't about values. It's an attempt to stir up prejudice and fear, but I think it's going to stir up something else - outrage at Republican leaders. The proposal itself is an outrage, and so is its consideration at the expense of so many other important issues, from health care to gasoline prices to Iraq.

A colleague of mine asked me if I was taking a lot of heat for announcing my support for the right of gays and lesbians to marry. And, frankly, the question doesn't surprise me because I suppose many of my colleagues might be wary of taking a strong stand on an issue meant to divide Americans. The Washington Post today called this "a tricky issue for Democrats" but it doesn't have to be. All Americans should stand up and say no to the federal marriage amendment, no to discrimination targeted at some of our finest citizens, and no to this narrow-minded attempt to score political points in an election year.

Thanks for the opportunity to pass on some of my thoughts on this issue. I look forward to reading your comments.

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