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Anti-Gay Marriage Hearings

Via Million for Marriage, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights held a hearing last week entitled, "What is Needed to Defend the Bipartisan Defense of Marriage Act of 1996?", called by its Chariman, Senator John Cornyn (R.-TX). Four witnesses were allowed to speak in favor of a Constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage and civil union, while two witnesses were allowed to speak against it.

The first speaker was an African-American pastor from Massachusetts:

The American family is in serious trouble today. At present, a historically unprecedented percentage of families with children in our nation are fatherless. In fact, over 25 million American children (more than 1-in-3) are being raised in a family with no father present in the home. This represents a dramatic tripling of the level of fatherlessness in America over the past thirty years.

Unfortunately, there is an overwhelming body of social science research data which shows that the epidemic level of fatherlessness in America represents a disaster for children and society...

As compelling as the empirical evidence may be, I do not need to consult social science research studies in order to conclude that the African-American community in particular has paid a heavy price for the modern epidemic of family disintegration.

Of course, the problems of America's urban neighborhoods are well known. But the modern epidemic of family breakdown means that an increasing number of children in America are growing up under similarly difficult conditions. Indeed, for several decades, our nation has been wandering in a wilderness of social problems caused by family disintegration...

Tragically, as bad as our current situation may be, it could soon become dramatically worse. This is because the courts in America are poised to erase the legal road map to marriage and the family from American law. In fact, the weakening of the legal status of marriage in America at the hands of the courts has already begun.

This process represents nothing less than a social revolution -- advancing apart from the democratic process and against the will of a clear majority of the American people. If allowed to continue, this revolution will deprive future generations of Americans of the legal road map they will need to have a fighting chance to find their way out of the social wilderness of family disintegration.

Marriage as the union of male and female is the most multicultural social institution in the world -- it cuts across all racial, cultural and religious lines.

Significantly, this common sense understanding of marriage as the union of male and female is so fundamental to the African-American community that over 70% of all African-Americans in the United States would currently favor a constitutional amendment to protect the legal status of marriage. Indeed, polls consistently show that the African-American community -- along with other communities of color in the United States -- lead the way in their support for a Federal Marriage Amendment to protect the legal status of marriage in America for future generations.

Of course, no one involved in the Alliance For Marriage believes that saving the legal status of marriage in America will alone be sufficient to stem the tide of family disintegration in our country. But we are convinced that protecting the legal status of marriage is a necessary condition for the renewal of a marriage-based culture in the United States.

The good news in all of this is that family breakdown is a completely curable social disease. This is one of the greatest and most prosperous nations in the world. And we can do better than accept historically unprecedented levels of youth crime and child poverty because more than one-third of our nation's children are being raised without the benefit of a married family made up of a mother and a father.

We can -- and we must -- rebuild a culture of marriage and intact families in this country while we still have time.

Let me see if I can translate and condense that:

The family is in serious trouble. Fatherlessness is an epidemic and a disaster. Family disintegration has been especially hard on the African-American community. Now, I can't draw any connection whatsoever between gay marriage on the one hand and fatherlessness and family disintegration on the other, but most African-Americans are against gay marriage, as am I, so I think we should ban it.
Thankfully, this rhetorical know-nothing nonsense was balanced by the eloquent testimony of a man whose partner of 11 years was an attendant on one of the hijacked 9/11 flights:
Jeff and I had exchanged rings and we were married in our hearts. Legally, it was another matter entirely.

After his death, I was faced not only with my grief over losing Jeff -- who was indeed my better half -- but with the painful task of proving the authenticity of our relationship over and over again. With no marriage license to prove our relationship existed, even something as fundamental as obtaining his death certificate became a monumental task...

During the years we were together, Jeff paid taxes and had social security deducted from his paycheck like all other Americans do. But without a civil marriage license, I am denied benefits that married couples and their families receive as a matter of routine.

Jeff died without a will, which meant that while I dealt with losing him, I also had huge anxiety about maintaining the home we shared together. Without a marriage license to prove I was Jeff's next of kin, even inheriting basic household possessions became a legal nightmare.

Married couples have a legal safety net of rights and protections that gay Americans are currently denied. Until Jeff died, I had no idea just how vulnerable we were -- where married couples have security and protection, gay couples are left without a net...

The terrorists who attacked this country killed people not because they were gay or straight -- but because they were Americans. It is heart wrenching that our own government does not protect its citizens equally, gay and straight, simply because they are Americans.

Two years ago we were all united against the common threat of terrorism. Now, less than two years later I am sitting here and being told that my relationship was a threat to our country.

Jeff and I only sought to love and take care of each other. I do not understand why that is a threat to some people, and I cannot understand why the leaders of this country would hold a hearing on the best way to prevent that from happening.

In closing, I would like to read an excerpt from a letter that Jeff wrote to me on our last anniversary:

"Keith, we've been through much the past 11 years. Our lives haven't always been easy, but through it all, our undeniable love for each other has carried us through! I love you -- don't ever forget that! When you're feeling lonely and I'm not home with you, just pull out this letter and read my words to you once again and know how much you will always mean to me! With loving thoughts of you now and forever, Jeff."

I truly believe I have learned the meaning of the phrase -- Love is Eternal.

How someone could listen to that testimony, to such an obviously heartfelt expression of love and caring -- to the story of a family, in the truest sense of the word, stricken with tragedy -- and then go on to talk abstractedly of "protecting the legal status of marriage is a necessary condition for the renewal of a marriage-based culture in the United States" is utterly and completely beyond me. It bespeaks a lack of empathy, a self-centeredness, a moral righteousness that I hope I am never able to comprehend.

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