Personal Voices: Uniting, Not Dividing

Human Rights

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Bush:

I would like to address your new and admirable abandonment of the "states' rights" doctrine so often advocated de facto or de jure by you and those who think like you. I would like to do so ... but I don't know if I can.

Would you now propose and support a Constitutional amendment guaranteeing every American citizen the right to vote? This amendment would be inclusive, have greater authority than contravening state laws, help to ensure that recounts in Presidential elections would be handled in a fair and equitable manner, and give the Supreme Court the constitutional basis for hearing lawsuits regarding the infringement of voting rights.

I didn't think so.

Would you now propose and support a constitutional amendment guaranteeing every American the right to quality and affordable health care? This amendment would be inclusive and would force the 50 separate and disparate state health care delivery systems to guarantee an acceptable minimum level of affordable care, something that the current Medicaid and Medicare systems almost provide for portions of our populace. There would be increased efficiency and possibly decreased costs for both the public and private sectors.

(By the way, we could apply the same approach to education and really leave no child behind.)

I didn't think so.

Would you now propose and support a constitutional amendment that supports every citizen's right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work, to protection against unemployment, to equal pay for equal work, to just and favorable remuneration, and to form and join trade unions? This amendment would be inclusive and provide so many Americans with a sense of pride and dignity through meaningful employment and stronger federal standards for their rights as workers. This amendment would help to address many social issues, including education and crime.

I didn't think so.

Would now you propose and support an amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing all citizens of the United States the right to a clean, safe, and sustainable environment? This amendment would be inclusive and enable us to tackle serious issues both at home and abroad. This amendment would help to ensure that our children will enjoy a future that will reflect in some way the natural wonders enjoyed by our parents and ourselves.

I didn't think so.

Need I go on?

Yet, Mr. President, you would now pursue an amendment to our constitution that does nothing but dehumanize at least ten percent of Americans and divide our nation in the ugliest way. The test of our democracy is not how we handle the will of the majority, but how we support the rights of the minority.

The word "marriage" is written into our legal system. No one is asking any religious denomination to adopt the concept of same-sex marriage if it is incompatible with the theology of that denomination. But I am asking why any American must endure discrimination under the law. This is particularly galling when we are talking about attacking people who wish to support each other through love, to simply be acknowledged as loving couples, and to build families. These are indeed "family values." Other nations understand this; why can't we?

If you and those who think like you cannot accept the concept of "marriage" as applying to people of the same sex, then why not propose an amendment that removes the word "marriage" from our legal world and substitutes the phrase "partnership" and the word "spouse" for "husband" or "wife?" Then everyone would at least be equal under the law.

Short of that, each citizen's right to equal protection under the law is the ultimate test of the American democratic experiment. By supporting such an amendment, you are once again attacking fundamental American values and undermining our Constitution as a living document.

You are again attempting to destroy that which makes America great and the world's leader.

You will not succeed, Mr. Bush. Your cynical move may be politically expedient, but it graphically illustrates the moral bankruptcy that permeates your administration and the philosophical emptiness of the "states' rights" and "New Federalism" movements.

Even when threatened by terrorists, this nation has a much bigger heart and a far greater history than you will ever understand.


Chris Owens

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