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“The Pledge of Allegiance says ‘… with liberty and justice for all.’
What part of ‘all’ don’t you understand?”

Pat Schroeder, former U.S. Senator

"They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety"
Benjamin Franklin

"As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality." George Washington, 1790

Virginia Delegate David Englin , a "fighting Dem" who served in the Balkans while in the Air Force and who was in the Pentagon on September 11, gave the following speech on the floor of the Virginia Legislature. It preceded a vote to place a proposed marriage amendment on their fall ballot. Republicans and Democrats DID vote to include the amendment on their ballot this fall. It would ban civil unions, domestic partnerships and any relationship/legal arrangement that approximates marriage.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this resolution. I'm not going to talk about same-sex marriage. I'm no fool -- although others might make a different judgment about a freshman delegate rising in this chamber on the third day of session. But I understand that on the issue of marriage, I'm in the minority, perhaps even in my own caucus. I also sleep very well at night knowing that at some point in the future of this great Commonwealth, those of us of my opinion will be judged to have been on the right side of history. But let's for a moment forget about the question of same-sex marriage, because this amendment addresses much more than that. We need to be clear and honest: This amendment also outlaws civil unions and domestic partnerships and other similar private legal arrangements.

We have heard from the other side that this constitutional amendment is necessary to protect conventional marriage. I am blessed with a beautiful and brilliant wife who is the love of my life. In June, Shayna and I will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary, and I would fight with every ounce of my strength anything that would threaten my marriage. So I would like to know, how exactly civil unions and domestic partnerships and other similar arrangements threaten my marriage?

We have heard from the other side that this amendment will protect families. Shayna and I are blessed with a strong and bright six-year-old son, Caleb, and we have a strong family. My friend the gentleman from Rockingham County, Delegate Lohr, and I have discussed how we come from different backgrounds and different parts of this great Commonwealth, yet we share a deep and abiding commitment to our families. I want nothing more than to protect my family. I spent 12 years wearing the uniform of the United States Air Force to protect my family. I've been in harm's way to protect my family. So I would like to know, how exactly do civil unions and domestic partnerships and other similar arrangements threaten my family? Because if they do, I will be the first one to stand up and fight, because nobody better threaten my family.

Moreover, we have heard from the other side that this amendment must pass sooner rather than later, as if there is some kind of crisis that is more important than issues like transportation or education or health care. Why else would this be our first order of business? Yet Virginia law already makes same-sex marriage and civil unions and domestic partnerships illegal.

So if this amendment doesn't help protect my marriage, and doesn't help protect my family, and if it doesn't even change the status of same-sex marriage and civil unions and domestic partnership contracts, then what exactly does this amendment do? I submit to my fair-minded colleagues that this amendment sends a message. And that message is, if you are gay, or lesbian, or even a man and a woman living together and committed to each other who are not married, you are not welcome in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

And who are these people whom we are shutting out in the cold? They are my dear friends Karen and Sue, who have been together for years and are as loving and committed to each other as any husband and wife. They are my friend Lou, who served with me at the Pentagon, and continues to serve our country today. They are Father Mychal Judge, the gay priest who died in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 while ministering to fallen firefighters. They are Mark Bingham, a gay passenger on United Airlines Flight 93, who fought back against Al Queda hijackers and sacrificed his life to save others. They are Ronald Gamboa and his partner Dan Brandhorst, who, along with their 3 year old son David, were killed when Al Quaeda flew United Airlines Flight 175 into the World Trade Center. They are David Charlebois, the co-pilot of American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon when Al Qaeda tried to kill me and my comrades who were on duty inside the Pentagon at the time. They are friends and neighbors and teachers and doctors and soldiers and loving parents who want nothing more than to live life without fear that the government will tear their families apart.

I'm a student of history, and I find our Founding Fathers to be a great source of wisdom on many matters, so I want to close my remarks by reading from a letter that great Virginian named George Washington wrote more than two centuries ago:

"The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for giving to Mankind . . . a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens.

May the Children of the Stock of Abraham who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid."

Ladies and gentlemen, I implore you, be strong and of good courage and vote down this resolution.

Detroit Leaders Announce Opposition to Proposal 2
Detroit elected officials along with leaders of labor and civil rights organizations came together today at a news conference to oppose Proposal 2, the Michigan constitutional ban on civil unions, domestic partnerships and same-sex marriage.

Congressman John Conyers and Detroit City Council President MaryAnn Mahaffey joined Metro Detroit AFL-CIO President Donald Boggs and Michigan ACLU Executive Director Kary Moss to describe how passage of the proposal will harm every citizen of Michigan - both gay and straight.

Council President MaryAnn Mahaffey is convinced that this proposal is a smoke-screen. In the press conference, she pointed out that Detroiters care about real issues, not political schemes used to distract voters from important issues like education, jobs, health care, the security of local families, and the war in Iraq.

Others at the news conference today agreed that, if passed, Proposal 2 would ultimately take health benefits away from Detroit families who currently receive domestic partner benefits from employers, eliminate these benefits from union contracts, and limit the rights of local governments and public colleges and universities to set their own policies.

Metro Detroit AFL-CIO President Donald Boggs, said at the conference, "Proposal 2 is bad for organized labor because it will undermine existing negotiated agreements. The AFL-CIO urges all of its membership to vote NO on Proposal 2."

Many believe that the proposal is unnecessary. Kary Moss, ACLU of Michigan Executive Director, said, "There is already a law in Michigan that bans same-sex marriage. Proposal 2 goes too far and is too broad. By also prohibiting domestic partnership benefits and civil unions, it denies gays and lesbians the legal rights that heterosexuals are afforded."

Additionally, State Representative Bill McConico and State Senators Buzz Thomas, Hansen Clarke, and Burton Leland have come out in opposition to Proposal 2. Detroit City Council Members JoAnn Watson, Sharon McPhail, and Alberta Tinsley-Talabi were scheduled to appear at the event but were detained by today's Council business.

"I do not support this discriminatory and divisive proposal. Residents of Detroit need to be careful that they are not duped into voting for the measure based on the misleading advertising paid for by out-of-state interests. As we continue to build one Michigan, I encourage residents to oppose Proposal 2 and continue to support tolerance."

"While a previous commitment prevents me from joining you at today's event, I wish to make clear my continued opposition to Proposal 2, the ballot measure designated to ban the recognition of same-sex marriages.

"Proposal 2 is drafted too broadly and would allow the amendment to be used to take away health benefits from gay and straight families that receive domestic partner benefits from employers, eliminate these benefits from unions collective bargaining agreements, and limit the rights of local governments and public colleges and universities to set their own policies. I feel this ballot measure is entirely unnecessary under the law and will be hurtful and divisive for our state.

"In the state of Michigan, marriage is already defined by statute as a union between a man and a woman. Furthermore, the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 already "protects" Michigan from being required to grant a same-sex marriage performed in another state any of the benefits of a traditional marriage. The Defense of Marriage Act provides that states cannot be required to grant full faith and credit to same-sex marriages, unless the states' own laws and definitions require it. For this reason, Proposal 2 is unnecessary.

"I feel this ballot measure has been driven by misguided politics, not good public policy, and sends a message of intolerance toward members of the Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender communities. The LGBT community has long faced harassment, discrimination, and in many cases, violence based solely on their sexual orientation and gender identity. This measure only exacerbates those problems and promotes an image of intolerance for our state.

"For these reasons, and many others, I remain opposed to Proposal 2 and urge its defeat."

"Freedom means freedom for everyone,"
Vice President Dick Cheney

President Gerald R. Ford
In October 2001, former President Gerald Ford was asked his position on lesbian and gay families and marriage. He declared, "I think they ought to be treated equally. Period." Asked whether gay couples should get the same Social Security, tax and other federal benefits as married couples, the Republican replied, "I don't see why they shouldn't. I think that's a proper goal."
SOURCE: Deb Price,"Gerald Ford: Treat Gay Couples Equally," Detroit News, 10/29

"Our Constitution is about expanding and defining rights and liberties, not limiting them. Lawmakers who support a sweeping federal mandate to keep same-sex couples from the legal rights inherent in civil marriage are pandering to prejudice. This stems from the same narrow-minded and bigoted perspective that fueled miscegenation laws. In the 1960's, the civil rights movement fought for interracial couples have marriage rights--and won. We're fighting for marriage rights again, this time for same-sex couples. We'll win this struggle too."
Kim Gandy, President of the National Organization for Women

I think it is not an issue any more of just marriage. This is an issue of human rights. And I think it is dangerous to give states the right to deal with human rights questions. That's how we ended up with slavery and segregation going forward a long time. I, under no circumstances, believe we ought to give states rights to gay and lesbians' human rights. Whatever my personal feelings may be about gay and lesbian marriages, unless you are prepared to say gays and lesbians are not human beings, they should have the same constitutional right of any other human being.
Reverend Al Sharpton, Presidential candidate

"How is my marriage under attack if two gays or lesbians down the street want to make a lifelong commitment to themselves? Love is bigger than government. Think about that."
Jesse Ventura, former Minnesota Governor

"I must tell you I am ashamed when top leaders in this country and citizens of this country and even the president of the United States suggest to the people of this country that there should be an amendment to the constitution to take away rights from people rather than giving rights to people." Congressman Richard Gephardt

“Love and commitment is not exactly in surplus in this country. The main tragedy, what undermines marriage, is divorce.” — Ralph Nader

“I think culturally we're going through a huge change. I look at it in a human context because I have friends in those situations, and it's terrible. All we owe people is dignity, respect and civil rights. I think the country will evolve." — Teresa Heinz Kerry

"I believe strongly in the law that we have right now in California which respects domestic partnership rights and I think that that's a very good law. I believe in equal rights absolutely and in protecting that." — California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

Today we look back, almost disbelieving, on the time when many Americans did not tolerate marriage between Catholics and Protestants and between people of different races. Unfortunately, our laws continue to deny a basic right to marry to two adults simply because they are gay or lesbian. Now, some want to enshrine similar discrimination into the Louisiana Constitution.

American Civil Liberties Union Message Points on marriage for same-sex couples and the Federal Marriage Amendment

Michigan Republican Representatives Leon Drolet and Lorence Wenke provide explanations for their nay votes on the proposed marriage amendment - taken from the JOURNAL OF THE HOUSE.

Vermont's Lessons on Gay Marriage
By Gov. Howard Dean, M.D.
July 20, 2004
Last week's Senate discussion about gay marriage was another attempt by the Republican Party to gain political points by appealing to our worst prejudices.

In the spring of 2000, Vermont became the first state to recognize same-sex partnerships and to make sure that every right outlined in Vermont's Constitution and laws applied equally to heterosexual and homosexual Vermonters. Every right but one. Gay and lesbian Vermonters do not have the right to call their unions marriage. The fallout was the least civil public debate in the state in over a century.

Respectable church leaders railed against homosexuals and not-so-respectable ones vowed to oust any legislator who voted for the bill. Five Republican members of the House lost their seats in primaries. In the general election, Democrats lost control of the House for the first time in 14 years. My own race, for a sixth term, was the most difficult in my career.

Four years later, we wonder what the fuss was all about. The intensity of anger and hate has disappeared, replaced by an understanding that equal rights for groups previously denied them has no negative effect on those of us who have always enjoyed those rights.

In fact, the gay and lesbian community has undergone a significant adjustment. Couples who have been together for many years had to reexamine their commitments, not only in light of the full legal rights that married couples enjoy, but in light of the full legal responsibilities that also bind married couples. Same-sex couples in Vermont pay the marriage penalty when filing taxes, and are entitled to equal division of property under Vermont law if they separate. The state and other major employers no longer recognize domestic partnerships for health and other benefits since those benefits are now available for those in civil unions or marriages. Although a majority of Vermonters originally opposed the bill - that is no longer true today.

Is there a lesson here for America? Perhaps.

Just as the civil rights movement and subsequent integration began the process of removing painful stereotypes about African-Americans, so does the open declaration and subsequent demand for equal rights begin to remove stereotypes about the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community.
Contrary to the rhetoric of social conservatives, gay Americans are patriotic, serve honorably in the armed forces and die in the service of their country. One of the most extraordinary people I met when running for president was an 80-year-old gay veteran who had served on the beach in Normandy during D-day.

We also now know that there is a strong genetic component to being gay or lesbian. From a medical point of view, there is virtually no scientific evidence to support the myth that sexual orientation can be changed, although we know that throughout history, sexuality can be repressed, often with disastrous results.

While it is true that the Bible (largely the Old Testament) condemns homosexuality in a few places, it equally condemns eating shellfish. Jesus never mentions homosexuality. The bottom line is this: America is grappling with the discarding of old stereotypes about a group of people who have been part of our country since America has been a country. All Americans are diminished when we allow stereotyping to dismiss the worth of fellow Americans. All Americans are stronger and the nation is stronger, when we judge people by whom they are, not what they are.

You would think the Christian right has more pressing matters to worry about. America now has 35 million people living in poverty, many of them working poor. And Christian conservatives are up in arms about gay marriage?

Maybe they should take another look at the Bible and its admonition that we shall be judged by what we do for the least among us. Indeed, if you removed every reference to poverty in the New Testament, the Good Book would be reduced to little more than a Not Bad Pamphlet. In the words of Rev. Jim Wallis, "The Prophets would be decimated, the Psalms destroyed, and the Gospels ripped to shreds." On the other hand, there is not a single mention of gay marriage or the need to ban it.
Arianna Online

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