ALERT: Speak Out for Equality

You didn’t believe that the fight over the anti-GLBT Federal Marriage Amendment was over, did you? It isn’t, even if the Shrub did not include the item in an administration priority list publicized Tuesday at his first solo press conference since May. Dubya may have been silent on the issue of marriage equality, but Republicans on Capitol Hill are continuing their push to enshrine their bigotry in the US Constitution.

The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Property Rights is holding hearings on the subject today at 2 p.m. Witnesses representing both sides of the issue will state their cases before the panel.

Make no mistake, right-wing Senate and many Red Staters desperately want the Constitution to exclude gay and lesbian couples from civil marriage. As Kelly J. Shackelford, president of the arch-conservative Free Market Foundation told Baptist Press, “An amendment is the only way to take it out of the hands of judges and leave it in the hands of the people.”

And some right-wingers are losing patience with Dubya Bush’s seemingly nonchalant attitude toward the measure. “If the president were to spend as much time securing a federal marriage amendment as he has on Social Security reform,” writes American Values policy analyst Daniel Allott in the Oct. 19 Washington Examiner, “he would not only be able to address an issue close to the hearts of many Americans – and especially his increasingly disenchanted base – but also help revive an institution in even worse shape than our pensions system.”

(Of course, Allott himself notes that in yesterday’s press conference, Dubya essentially declared Social Security reform dead.)

For those seeking true equality for all in the US, there is some good news: The few media outlets reporting on today’s subcommittee hearing note that Dr. Christopher Harris, M.D., assistant professor of Pediatrics at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, is among those who will testify against the proposed amendment.

From AScribe Newswire:

Harris, who is a gay African-American, has a 3-year-old daughter and has been a pediatrician for almost 20 years. Harris says he agrees with the findings of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that there are no relevant studies of the effect of parental sexual orientation on children that show any measurable effect on the quality of parent-child relationships or the children’s mental health and successful socialization.

An analysis of the issue prepared for the AAP board of directors in July 2005, concluded, in part, that “Civil marriage is a social institution that promotes healthy families by conferring of a powerful set of rights, benefits and protections that cannot be obtained by other means. Civil marriage can help foster psychosocial stability and financial and legal security as well as an augmented sense of societal acceptance and support. Legal recognition of a spouse can increase the ability of adult couples to provide and care for one another and fosters a more nurturing and secure environment for their children.”

Harris has joined more than 750 pediatricians across the nation who are opposed to the Federal Marriage Amendment, and who are part of a grassroots coalition called Pro-Family Pediatricians.

So, there is hope that justice ultimately will prevail. In fact, there is opportunity here. The media so far have not given the hearing much coverage. That makes right now a perfect moment to take action.

I encourage all those who believe the US should live up to its promise of equality for all under law to contact committee members and tell them how a Federal Marriage Amendment, in fact, would hurt American families.

The Senate subcommittee is chaired by Sam Brownback (R-KS.). The other members are Russell Feingold (D-WI), Ted Kennedy (D-MA.), John Cornyn (R-TX), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Arlen Specter (R-PA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Tom Coburn (R-OK). It is urgent that you call these lawmakers TODAY — if Bush continues his silence on the issue, you can expect anti-gay, anti-justice right-wingers to react the same way in which many are dealing with the Harriet Miers Supreme Court nomination. So, get busy: You can reach Senate offices via the Capitol Hill Switchboard, (202) 224-3121.

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