Yesterday, I joined a group of summer interns to lobby Congress (specifically, the House) against the politically motivated Federal Marriage Amendment (H.J. Res 88, introduced by one of the Colorado representatives, Marilyn Musgrave) which reads:
Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.
My representative, Thaddeus McCotter, is a co-sponsor of this hateful bill. I wanted to understand why. So, in my meeting with the legislative assistant (LA), Andrea Waldock, to whom he's assigned this issue I concentrated my questioning on that. Her response was that the representative co-sponsored the initiative for three principal reasons:
1) The majority of opinions that he has received from his constituents say that they support such a Constitutional Amendment,
2) He believes this is an issue that should be resolved at the various States' level and not by the federal government,
3) He holds a deep seated belief that marriage is and should be a union of one man and one woman.
I never got a satisfactory answer to how #2 is consistent with his position as a co-sponsor of an amendment to constitutionalize this issue. She merely mumbled something about how this has no chance of passing and then it will be returned to the states where it belongs. Huh?
I then told her how weak I thought #1 was -- a representative should do more then provide a mouthpiece for under informed constituents; he should lead. If his electorate doesn't like his stand on something, it is up to him to educate them as to why his position is correct. So, saying he stands for something merely because that's what his constituents wants is just shorthand for saying, "hey, I got this job and now I want to keep it, regardless."
So, we turned to #3, the real crux of the issue. Why, I asked, does he believe that marriage should be a union of one man and one woman? HOW does same-sex marriage affect, in any way, opposite-sex marriage? HOW does providing for the children of a same-sex couple detract from the children of opposite-sex couples? HOW does hurting me and my spouse help someone else? After a couple of minutes sparring she finally blurted the truth: it was his personal belief (which I support him having!), informed by his religion and supported by the views of most religions and religious groups.
How does this square with our 1st Amendment, I wanted to know? How does this square with the freedom to believe differently from the majority? Do we live in a sectarian state? Isn't that what our Founders fought against? She had no answers. She said -- as any good LA would -- that she understood my points and could see my side, but that the representative believed as he believed.
I thanked her for her time, promised her that I would do what I could to see that he failed in his bid for re-election and said good-bye. It was a very frustrating meeting.