A few UNITED VOICES are featured below. Please check out the individual pages of politics, civil rights, faith, arts & media and we the people of this section for much more!
Pledge of Allegiance says ‘… with liberty and justice
What part of ‘all’ don’t you understand?”
Pat Schroeder, former U.S. Senator
"As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will
be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as
worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the
protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America
among the foremost nations of justice and liberality."
George Washington, 1790
Virginia Delegate David Englin , a "fighting Dem" who served in the Balkans while in the Air Force and who was in the Pentagon on September 11, gave the following speech on the floor of the Virginia Legislature. It preceded a vote to place a proposed marriage amendment on their fall ballot. Republicans and Democrats DID vote to include the amendment on their ballot this fall. It would ban civil unions, domestic partnerships and any relationship/legal arrangement that approximates marriage.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this resolution. I'm not going to talk about same-sex marriage. I'm no fool -- although others might make a different judgment about a freshman delegate rising in this chamber on the third day of session. But I understand that on the issue of marriage, I'm in the minority, perhaps even in my own caucus. I also sleep very well at night knowing that at some point in the future of this great Commonwealth, those of us of my opinion will be judged to have been on the right side of history. But let's for a moment forget about the question of same-sex marriage, because this amendment addresses much more than that. We need to be clear and honest: This amendment also outlaws civil unions and domestic partnerships and other similar private legal arrangements.
We have heard from the other side that this constitutional amendment is necessary to protect conventional marriage. I am blessed with a beautiful and brilliant wife who is the love of my life. In June, Shayna and I will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary, and I would fight with every ounce of my strength anything that would threaten my marriage. So I would like to know, how exactly civil unions and domestic partnerships and other similar arrangements threaten my marriage?
We have heard from the other side that this amendment will protect families. Shayna and I are blessed with a strong and bright six-year-old son, Caleb, and we have a strong family. My friend the gentleman from Rockingham County, Delegate Lohr, and I have discussed how we come from different backgrounds and different parts of this great Commonwealth, yet we share a deep and abiding commitment to our families. I want nothing more than to protect my family. I spent 12 years wearing the uniform of the United States Air Force to protect my family. I've been in harm's way to protect my family. So I would like to know, how exactly do civil unions and domestic partnerships and other similar arrangements threaten my family? Because if they do, I will be the first one to stand up and fight, because nobody better threaten my family.
Moreover, we have heard from the other side that this amendment must pass sooner rather than later, as if there is some kind of crisis that is more important than issues like transportation or education or health care. Why else would this be our first order of business? Yet Virginia law already makes same-sex marriage and civil unions and domestic partnerships illegal.
So if this amendment doesn't help protect my marriage, and doesn't help protect my family, and if it doesn't even change the status of same-sex marriage and civil unions and domestic partnership contracts, then what exactly does this amendment do? I submit to my fair-minded colleagues that this amendment sends a message. And that message is, if you are gay, or lesbian, or even a man and a woman living together and committed to each other who are not married, you are not welcome in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
And who are these people whom we are shutting out in the cold? They are my dear friends Karen and Sue, who have been together for years and are as loving and committed to each other as any husband and wife. They are my friend Lou, who served with me at the Pentagon, and continues to serve our country today. They are Father Mychal Judge, the gay priest who died in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 while ministering to fallen firefighters. They are Mark Bingham, a gay passenger on United Airlines Flight 93, who fought back against Al Queda hijackers and sacrificed his life to save others. They are Ronald Gamboa and his partner Dan Brandhorst, who, along with their 3 year old son David, were killed when Al Quaeda flew United Airlines Flight 175 into the World Trade Center. They are David Charlebois, the co-pilot of American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon when Al Qaeda tried to kill me and my comrades who were on duty inside the Pentagon at the time. They are friends and neighbors and teachers and doctors and soldiers and loving parents who want nothing more than to live life without fear that the government will tear their families apart.
I'm a student of history, and I find our Founding Fathers to be a great source of wisdom on many matters, so I want to close my remarks by reading from a letter that great Virginian named George Washington wrote more than two centuries ago:
"The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for giving to Mankind . . . a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens.
May the Children of the Stock of Abraham who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid."
Ladies and gentlemen, I implore you, be strong and of good courage and vote down this resolution.
Detroit Leaders Announce Opposition to Proposal 2
Detroit elected officials along with leaders of labor and civil
rights organizations came together today at a news conference
to oppose Proposal 2, the Michigan constitutional ban on civil
unions, domestic partnerships and same-sex marriage.
Congressman John Conyers and Detroit City Council President
MaryAnn Mahaffey joined Metro Detroit AFL-CIO President Donald
Boggs and Michigan ACLU Executive Director Kary Moss to describe
how passage of the proposal will harm every citizen of Michigan
- both gay and straight.
Council President MaryAnn Mahaffey is convinced that this proposal
is a smoke-screen. In the press conference, she pointed out
that Detroiters care about real issues, not political schemes
used to distract voters from important issues like education,
jobs, health care, the security of local families, and the war
Others at the news conference today agreed that, if passed,
Proposal 2 would ultimately take health benefits away from Detroit
families who currently receive domestic partner benefits from
employers, eliminate these benefits from union contracts, and
limit the rights of local governments and public colleges and
universities to set their own policies.
Metro Detroit AFL-CIO President Donald Boggs, said at the conference,
"Proposal 2 is bad for organized labor because it will
undermine existing negotiated agreements. The AFL-CIO urges
all of its membership to vote NO on Proposal 2."
Many believe that the proposal is unnecessary. Kary Moss, ACLU
of Michigan Executive Director, said, "There is already
a law in Michigan that bans same-sex marriage. Proposal 2 goes
too far and is too broad. By also prohibiting domestic partnership
benefits and civil unions, it denies gays and lesbians the legal
rights that heterosexuals are afforded."
Additionally, State Representative Bill McConico and State Senators
Buzz Thomas, Hansen Clarke, and Burton Leland have come out
in opposition to Proposal 2. Detroit City Council Members JoAnn
Watson, Sharon McPhail, and Alberta Tinsley-Talabi were scheduled
to appear at the event but were detained by today's Council
STATEMENT FROM SENATOR BUZZ THOMAS
"I do not support this discriminatory and divisive proposal.
Residents of Detroit need to be careful that they are not duped
into voting for the measure based on the misleading advertising
paid for by out-of-state interests. As we continue to build
one Michigan, I encourage residents to oppose Proposal 2 and
continue to support tolerance."
STATEMENT FROM SENATOR HANSEN CLARKE
"While a previous commitment prevents me from joining you
at today's event, I wish to make clear my continued opposition
to Proposal 2, the ballot measure designated to ban the recognition
of same-sex marriages.
"Proposal 2 is drafted too broadly and would allow the
amendment to be used to take away health benefits from gay and
straight families that receive domestic partner benefits from
employers, eliminate these benefits from unions collective bargaining
agreements, and limit the rights of local governments and public
colleges and universities to set their own policies. I feel
this ballot measure is entirely unnecessary under the law and
will be hurtful and divisive for our state.
"In the state of Michigan, marriage is already defined
by statute as a union between a man and a woman. Furthermore,
the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 already "protects"
Michigan from being required to grant a same-sex marriage performed
in another state any of the benefits of a traditional marriage.
The Defense of Marriage Act provides that states cannot be required
to grant full faith and credit to same-sex marriages, unless
the states' own laws and definitions require it. For this reason,
Proposal 2 is unnecessary.
"I feel this ballot measure has been driven by misguided
politics, not good public policy, and sends a message of intolerance
toward members of the Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender
communities. The LGBT community has long faced harassment, discrimination,
and in many cases, violence based solely on their sexual orientation
and gender identity. This measure only exacerbates those problems
and promotes an image of intolerance for our state.
"For these reasons, and many others, I remain opposed to
Proposal 2 and urge its defeat."
"Freedom means freedom for everyone,"
Vice President Dick Cheney
ON THE RECORD
President Gerald R. Ford
In October 2001, former President Gerald Ford was asked his
position on lesbian and gay families and marriage. He declared,
"I think they ought to be treated equally. Period."
Asked whether gay couples should get the same Social Security,
tax and other federal benefits as married couples, the Republican
replied, "I don't see why they shouldn't. I think that's
a proper goal."
SOURCE: Deb Price,"Gerald Ford: Treat Gay Couples Equally,"
Detroit News, 10/29
"Our Constitution is about expanding and defining rights
and liberties, not limiting them. Lawmakers who support a sweeping
federal mandate to keep same-sex couples from the legal rights
inherent in civil marriage are pandering to prejudice. This
stems from the same narrow-minded and bigoted perspective that
fueled miscegenation laws. In the 1960's, the civil rights movement
fought for interracial couples have marriage rights--and won.
We're fighting for marriage rights again, this time for same-sex
couples. We'll win this struggle too."
Kim Gandy, President of theNational Organization for Women
I think it is not an issue any more of just marriage. This is
an issue of human rights. And I think it is dangerous to give
states the right to deal with human rights questions. That's
how we ended up with slavery and segregation going forward a
long time. I, under no circumstances, believe we ought to give
states rights to gay and lesbians' human rights. Whatever my
personal feelings may be about gay and lesbian marriages, unless
you are prepared to say gays and lesbians are not human beings,
they should have the same constitutional right of any other
Reverend Al Sharpton, Presidential candidate
"How is my marriage under attack if two gays or lesbians
down the street want to make a lifelong commitment to themselves?
Love is bigger than government. Think about that."
Jesse Ventura, former Minnesota Governor
"I must tell you I am ashamed when top leaders in this
country and citizens of this country and even the president
of the United States suggest to the people of this country that
there should be an amendment to the constitution to take away
rights from people rather than giving rights to people."
Congressman Richard Gephardt
“Love and commitment is not exactly in surplus in this
country. The main tragedy, what undermines marriage, is divorce.”
— Ralph Nader
“I think culturally we're going through a huge change.
I look at it in a human context because I have friends in those
situations, and it's terrible. All we owe people is dignity,
respect and civil rights. I think the country will evolve."
— Teresa Heinz Kerry
"I believe strongly in the law that we have right now in
California which respects domestic partnership rights and I
think that that's a very good law. I believe in equal rights
absolutely and in protecting that." — California
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
we look back, almost disbelieving, on the time when many Americans
did not tolerate marriage between Catholics and Protestants
and between people of different races. Unfortunately, our laws
continue to deny a basic right to marry to two adults simply
because they are gay or lesbian. Now, some want to enshrine
similar discrimination into the Louisiana Constitution.
American Civil Liberties Union Message Points on marriage for
same-sex couples and the Federal Marriage Amendment
Vermont's Lessons on Gay Marriage
By Gov. Howard Dean, M.D.
July 20, 2004
Last week's Senate discussion about gay marriage was another
attempt by the Republican Party to gain political points by
appealing to our worst prejudices.
In the spring of 2000, Vermont became the first state to recognize
same-sex partnerships and to make sure that every right outlined
in Vermont's Constitution and laws applied equally to heterosexual
and homosexual Vermonters. Every right but one. Gay and lesbian
Vermonters do not have the right to call their unions marriage.
The fallout was the least civil public debate in the state in
over a century.
Respectable church leaders railed against homosexuals and not-so-respectable
ones vowed to oust any legislator who voted for the bill. Five
Republican members of the House lost their seats in primaries.
In the general election, Democrats lost control of the House
for the first time in 14 years. My own race, for a sixth term,
was the most difficult in my career.
Four years later, we wonder what the fuss was all about. The
intensity of anger and hate has disappeared, replaced by an
understanding that equal rights for groups previously denied
them has no negative effect on those of us who have always enjoyed
In fact, the gay and lesbian community has undergone a significant
adjustment. Couples who have been together for many years had
to reexamine their commitments, not only in light of the full
legal rights that married couples enjoy, but in light of the
full legal responsibilities that also bind married couples.
Same-sex couples in Vermont pay the marriage penalty when filing
taxes, and are entitled to equal division of property under
Vermont law if they separate. The state and other major employers
no longer recognize domestic partnerships for health and other
benefits since those benefits are now available for those in
civil unions or marriages. Although a majority of Vermonters
originally opposed the bill - that is no longer true today.
Is there a lesson here for America? Perhaps.
Just as the civil rights movement and subsequent integration
began the process of removing painful stereotypes about African-Americans,
so does the open declaration and subsequent demand for equal
rights begin to remove stereotypes about the gay, lesbian, bisexual,
and transgender community.
Contrary to the rhetoric of social conservatives, gay Americans
are patriotic, serve honorably in the armed forces and die in
the service of their country. One of the most extraordinary
people I met when running for president was an 80-year-old gay
veteran who had served on the beach in Normandy during D-day.
We also now know that there is a strong genetic component to
being gay or lesbian. From a medical point of view, there is
virtually no scientific evidence to support the myth that sexual
orientation can be changed, although we know that throughout
history, sexuality can be repressed, often with disastrous results.
While it is true that the Bible (largely the Old Testament)
condemns homosexuality in a few places, it equally condemns
eating shellfish. Jesus never mentions homosexuality. The bottom
line is this: America is grappling with the discarding of old
stereotypes about a group of people who have been part of our
country since America has been a country. All Americans are
diminished when we allow stereotyping to dismiss the worth of
fellow Americans. All Americans are stronger and the nation
is stronger, when we judge people by whom they are, not what
You would think the Christian right has more pressing matters
to worry about. America now has 35 million people living in
poverty, many of them working poor. And Christian conservatives
are up in arms about gay marriage?
Maybe they should take another look at the Bible and its admonition
that we shall be judged by what we do for the least among us.
Indeed, if you removed every reference to poverty in the New
Testament, the Good Book would be reduced to little more than
a Not Bad Pamphlet. In the words of Rev. Jim Wallis, "The
Prophets would be decimated, the Psalms destroyed, and the Gospels
ripped to shreds." On the other hand, there is not a single
mention of gay marriage or the need to ban it.