Joyworks Library

Correspondence between JT & Senator Lieberman

Concerning the proposed Marriage Amendment to the Constitution

A letter was sent to both Senators Lieberman and Dodd in support of defeating the proposed Amendment to the Constitution defining marriage via their web email interface. This is Senator Lieberman's response and JT's reply.

Subject: Correspondence From Senator Lieberman
Date: Thursday, 22 July 2004 09:52:34 -0400

Dear Ms. Thomas:

Thank you for contacting me regarding your concerns about same-sex marriages. It is good to hear from you.

Whether to enable same-sex couples in long-term, committed relationships to assume some or all of the legal obligations and benefits provided by marriage is an extraordinarily challenging and important issue. I have long believed that marriage is a time-honored sacred institution, to be shared by one man and one woman, [break]

I respect your beliefs, the choices you make in order to live by those beliefs and your right to share those beliefs with your children and family.

which is why I supported the Defense of Marriage Act. That legislation, signed into law by former President Bill Clinton in 1996, defines marriage for the purposes of federal laws as a union between a man and a woman and makes clear that no state should have to recognize same-sex marriages authorized in other states.

But, marriage should not be something defined one way or the other by ANY government, federal or state. Marriage is a word that carries great connotations for each of us. But, I believe that marriage as a religious act should not impose on the legal definition/terms of "marriage" as a legal joining or partnership.

If I could effect a resolution to this issue, I would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act immediately. Perhaps, what we need to do is strengthen and clarify the joining of two people together in a committed partnership as something, some other word, other than marriage.

In other words, any act that any US government, local, state, county or federal, is involved in or supports or recognizes in any fashion, should be defined purely in it's legal and "partnership" terms. Because the term "marriage" is so imbued with the connotations of a religious act, and because, it's very unlikely Americans are going to "let-go" of the feelings wrapped around this interpretation of "marriage", I believe "marriage" should not be used in any government act, law, document etc.

The most recent legislation regarding same-sex marriage was the Federal Marriage Amendment (S. J. Res. 40) introduced by my colleague, Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO). As you may know, the Federal Marriage Amendment was defeated on a procedural motion on July 14, 2004, by a vote of 48-50. Although I do not support gay marriage, I believe that states have the right to adopt for themselves laws that allow same-sex unions, which is why I do not support the amendment as drafted since it precludes states from adopting all such arrangements.

So, let's call for "Domestic Partnerships" or "Legal Unions". Let's get the US governments out of this debate about what "marriage" should look like.

I believe that same-sex couples in long-term, committed relationships should have the option to assume some of the legal benefits and obligations conferred by civil marriage. This, in my view, is a reflection of the basic American ideals of fairness and equality, which demand that we take concrete steps to end discrimination against gay men and lesbians. That is why I am a cosponsor of the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act (S. 1252), introduced by Senator Mark Dayton (D-MN), which would extend job-related benefits such as health insurance, retirement benefits, and life insurance to domestic partners of federal employees.

I am also a long-time leading cosponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (S.1705), sponsored by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), which would outlaw workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.

I also believe that we must evaluate the numerous benefits, rights, and privileges afforded to married couples under federal law in order to determine whether to extend them to same-sex couples in long-term, committed relationships.

Ok. But, too bad we can't make it simpler - and just treat each individual American citizen as an individual. Period. No "marriage" as a legal term. No special benefits for two adults who chose to commit to a legal arrangement we'll call "domestic partnership".

However, when any adult, single or a partner in a domestic partnership, makes a commitment to become a child's parent - either by giving birth (and not giving the child up for adoption) or acknowledging paternity or accepting legal responsibility of a child born to a domestic partner or through adoption, some economic assistance to that child may be all our US governments need to provide. That "economic assistance" might best come as equal public education regardless of where the child lives, guaranteed equal medical care regardless of the child's parents income, clean, safe shelter and guaranteed access to food that supplies for all basic nutritious needs of that child. Period.

Imagine.. . . every child born into a land where they will, without qualification, without question, receive basic nutrition, basic medical care, a quality education and live in a safe place. Wow!

Imagine . . . every child born or brought into a family where one or more adults has actively chosen to, has purposefully committed to being that child's parent. To care for, to protect and to nurture that child - forever. Wow!

Imagine . . . every child growing up with their basic needs automatically provided for, growing up without fear of being hungry, fear of being unwanted, knowing that they can depend on all the adults in their life - their parent(s), their community and their country. Safe, secure, fed, cared for and educated. Wow!

I remain ever hopeful, JT

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