Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Call for West Virginia to Recognize the Common Humanity of Every Citizen

I am Asking West Virginia's Congressional Leadership to Join U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy's Drive to Repeal the Defense of Marriage Act!  ~Madison Reed

Dear Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, Congressmen David McKinley and Nick J. Rahall II, Senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin III:

Will you join Senator Patrick Leahy's drive to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and help bi-national couples like me - a native West Virginian and resident, and my European partner Dzmitry - so that gay Americans can enjoy the same bundle of rights, benefits and privileges that the "fundamental civil right" of marriage [Loving vs. Virginia 388 U.S. 1 (1967)] conveys to two committed people who love each other?

Here's an excerpt from Senator Leahy's recent statement posted to his blog and submitted to the Congressional Record:
"I have experienced profound change in my own views. I voted for the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. And today I will not hesitate to acknowledge that my views have changed for the better. My own transformation came in part from the state of Vermont’s drive toward greater equality for Vermonters. The Vermont Supreme Court’s opinion in the landmark case of Baker v. State first gave rise to legislatively-enacted civil unions in Vermont.

In Baker v. State, then-Chief Justice Jeffery Amestoy wrote that the court’s decision was grounded in Vermont’s constitution and was “a recognition of our common humanity.”

We all evolve and change over time. If any of you or your previous West Virginia colleagues in Congress voted for the enactment of the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 as Senator Leahy did, haven't you each changed as he has changed, and now understand that it's time to repeal this hateful law that destroys the lives of gay Americans like me?

I'd like to feel like America is my home that welcomes me, and wants me to be happy with my own family.  But I've never had that opportunity as a West Virginian, or as an American Citizen, because the Defense of Marriage Act adds to the discrimination against me, causing me almost unbearable personal and financial hardship, and adds to that a denial of the positive social recognition and celebration of my deeply committed love to Dzmitry, that only a legal marriage can give me.

~Madison Reed


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