|I came to Missouri to be free ... free from the hateful treatment I grew up with in a small town in Indiana. I vowed, when I came here, that I would never hide or be ashamed of who I was again. For the most part, I have held true to that promise for the past 20 years.
I am writing...because I personally know or have met people in your community who do not have the freedom that I have claimed for myself. I remember, and I hope that I can be a voice for those who cannot or will not speak up for themselves.
On March 1, 2004, the Missouri Senate passed and sent to the House, a bill calling for a change to the Missouri Constitution to ban gay marriage. My Senator, Maida Coleman, was one of only six to vote against this.
The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says:
"... No State shall ... deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws ..."
During the height of the AIDS crisis, I saw many times, families who barred lifelong companions from being at their love's bedside as they died. It broke my heart every time. For all the freedom I imagined I had, it was at times like these when I realized that as a gay person, I do not really enjoy equal protection under the law.
The Human Rights Campaign estimates that there are at least 1000 inequalities in the law which stem from the ban on gay marriage.
Personally, I believe that government at all levels should simply abandon the term "marriage" for everyone. Let government establish civil contracts between partners, and let "marriage" be a religious act separate from the government entirely. It seems to me that this would satisfy both the equal protection clause, and maintain the separation of church and state. It seems this year's actions in Vermont, Massachusetts and San Francisco have, however, led to a completely irrational mob mentality in response.
I beg you...to take pause and consider the sorrow that passing this divisive amendment would bring.
St. Louis, MO