OK, so I was mad when I hit "send." Really mad. Mad because I got a form letter that was NOT addressing my actual concern. [To be fair, however, it's better than the last time I wrote to the Governor about these issues and got a reply about my comments on farm machinery...go figure.] Mad because of all of the apologetic double-speak in this letter. [Again, to be fair, I THINK Harkin might actually be on my side, just wrong in his suppositions about marriage rights.] And especially mad that we are not making progress in gaining federal rights of marriage in large part because even our elected officials do not understand the law and are not educated on matters of the rights of marriage. Marriage is not a state-level issue because it carries federal-level rights.
At any rate, below is my reply to Senator Harkin followed by his letter to me when I asked if he supported the "Respect for Marriage Act" that would repeal DOMA.
Thank you for your reply. I was NOT, however, contacting you regarding the DC decision. I WAS contacting you to consider support for the "Respect for Marriage Act" that would repeal DOMA.
You are wrong. Marriage is not an issue of state determination because there are 1,138 rights of marriage (including social security survivorship, etc.) that come from the federal government and will only be granted with federal recognition of marriage for same sex couples.
PLEASE consider: 1) not sending out form letters that insult the intelligence of folks, and 2) supporting the federal repeal of DOMA. Marriage is fundamentally an assemblage of state and federal rights.
Thank you, Me.
April 29, 2010
Thank you for contacting me. I am always glad to hear from you.
I appreciate your comments concerning the District of Columbia Council's passage of a bill regarding same-sex marriage.
Marriage licensing and regulation currently is left to the states, and I believe that is proper. It is the right of each state to interpret its own laws as it wishes. Although the Constitution gives Congress the authority to have the final say on this law, I believe the same deference we show states in establishing marriage laws should also be shown to the District of Columbia.
In 1996, I supported the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which established the federal definition of marriage as only the legal union between one man and one woman. Since that time, however, I have given the issue a great deal of thought and my views have evolved. While I've always believed that committed same-sex couples should have all the basic legal protections and benefits of marriage through civil unions, I have come to believe that the best way to guarantee these rights is through marriage equality. At the same time, I believe that questions regarding marriage as a religious sacrament are best left to individual religious denominations.
As I stated above, however, I believe the issue of marriage is best handled at the state level. Recently, as you know, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Iowa's 1998 Defense of Marriage Act violated the state constitution. In order to extend the basic legal protections and benefits of marriage to all Iowans, the Court granted same-sex couples the ability to marry. Significantly, the Court made clear that the ruling only effects civil marriages and will not impede religious groups from defining the marriages it performs as only between a man and a woman. I respect and support this decision, and I hope other Iowans will do the same.
Moreover, with few exceptions, we have changed the United States Constitution only to expand participation in our democracy or to make structural change in our system of representative government. That is why I do not support amending the United States Constitution in this area.
Again, thanks for sharing your views with me. Please don't hesitate to let me know how you feel on any issue that concerns you.
United States Senator