The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Make the Call on Marriage

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, or just happened by from another link, I have a favor to ask of you. I need you to make a phone call for me. The number is 202-224-3121, and the phone call actually isn’t just for me. It’s for my family, and for thousands of families like mine.

You see, the phone number above is for calling your Senator. Tomorrow (Monday) the Senate will start debating the Federal Marriage Amendment. The amendment would effectively make families like mine second class citizens by constitutionally denying even the possibility of accessing right’s and protections that you and your family probably take for granted.

Here’s a brief rundown from an email sent by the Family Pride Coalition.

Marriage rights and responsibilities protect our children in a myriad of ways. Marriage confers 1,138 federal policies and protections such as:

  • Social Security survivor benefits
  • family medical leave
  • passing on of inheritances
  • being eligible for visitation rights and child support obligations should parents separate
  • immigration policy
  • joint federal taxation

But if you want more you’ll find a detailed explanation here as well as a link to the full 1,040+ rights and protections listed by the GAO as based on marital status. And before you dismiss the above by saying that our families can simply draw up legal documents to give us some of the same rights and protections, here are a few things to consider.

Consider that, like I said before, those legal documents at best give us a tenuous hold on two or three of those rights and/or protections because there’s no guarantee they’ll be recognized.

Consider that sometimes those legal arrangements are ignored as they were in the case of Bill Flanigan, who was kept away from his partner Robert Daniel’s bedside in the hospital, despite having a medical power of attorney, and was thus denied a chance to say goodbye before Robert died.

Consider that sometimes we’re barred from even making those arrangements, or denied access to alternative arrangements as in Laurel Hester’s case. Consider that states like Michigan and Colorado are attempting to outlaw even domestic partnership arrangements.

Consider that states like Georgia and Virginia are working over time to not only prohibit same-sex marriage, but to prohibit even those legal arrangements that just barely give us access to even a few of those 1,040 rights and protections.

Consider that states like Oklahoma and Virginia (again) are working to legislate our families out of existence.

And if all that’s not enough, consider that some of the state laws mentioned above are having negative impacts on heterosexuals too. Consider Ohio, where the state’s anti-gay marriage amendment ended up barring non-married heterosexuals from filing domestic violence charges. Consider that the day may come when such laws affect you and your family, even though you’re not gay.

Take all that into consideration and then pick up the phone and call your Senator to urge him or her to vote against the FMA. If you’re part of a gay family, I’m going to guess that you have an idea what you might say to your Senator. If you’re heterosexual and want to make the call, here’s a brief statement adapted from Family Pride.

“As a constituent, I believe that discrimination does not belong in the Constitution. This is not about gay or straight, it’s about family. Stand up for equality and treat all families fairly. I urge the Senator to vote NO on the Federal Marriage Amendment.”

And it doesn’t matter whether, as conventional wisdom seems to hold, that the amendment stands little chance of passing the Senate. It doesn’t matter whether you’re 99.9% certain your Senator will vote against it. They still need to hear from their constituents on this issue.

So please, make the call.

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