Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Monday, March 7, 2011

Kudos to Congressman Langevin

The other day Rep. Jim Langevin, who represents Rhode Island's other congressional district, announced a policy shift on marriage equality. This is an important step, as the congressman had formerly resisted calls for full equality.

Throughout my career in public service, I have strongly opposed discrimination based on sexual orientation at both the state and federal level, co-sponsoring the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and hate crimes legislation, and supporting efforts to repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

While those topics have been controversial, they never elicited the intensely passionate and emotional debate that occurred as our nation began struggling with the question of same-sex marriage. For many years, I supported civil unions as a reasonable way to achieve consensus on a divisive issue, providing rights and protections to same-sex couples while respecting the deeply held beliefs of those not comfortable with the idea of marriage rights.

Then, three years ago, I attended the commitment ceremony of a longtime staff member and his partner of nine years. Before their friends and family, they professed their love, commitment and respect for each other. Their sentiments were just as moving, heartfelt and sincere as any of the vows I had heard at other weddings, yet I realized that their union would not be treated the same under the law. That difference struck me as fundamentally unjust, and I began to challenge the wisdom of creating separate categories of rights for certain groups of citizens. I began to see that civil unions fell short of the equality I believed that same-sex couples deserved.

As the debate about same-sex marriage continues in Rhode Island and in Washington, I have taken time to reflect carefully on my own position. Based on my own experiences and my firm belief that all Americans should be treated equally under the law, I am now convinced that affording full marriage equality rights to same-sex couples is the only fair and responsible approach for both Rhode Island and the nation. If our nation expects to provide equal protection to all, then our civic institutions must reflect that noble goal.

Congressman Langevin deserves our thanks for his thoughtful reconsideration of this important issue. While he remains more conservative than others in Rhode Island's D.C. delegation, he has shown a willingness to work with all of his constituents and listen to their concerns.


cassporter said...

It's great to see a politician taking a step in the right direction. The "family values" fraudsters are no doubt pouring a lot of money into Rhode Island now.

Cletis L. Stump said...

"As the debate about same-sex marriage continues in Rhode Island and in Washington, I have taken time to reflect carefully on my own position." Gad, what a radical thought.