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Letter to Senator Patrick Toomey
On October 14, 2020
Philadelphia − October 14, 2020 − The following letter has been sent to Senator Patrick J. Toomey to express concerns for our rights and the rights of our children, our families, our friends, and other Pennsylvanians:
October 14, 2020
The Honorable Patrick J. Toomey, Junior
United States Senator
248 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, District of Columbia 20510
Dear Senator Toomey:
We write to you today as constituents desperately concerned for our rights and the rights of our children, our families, our friends, and other Pennsylvanians.
We advocate because, for most of the history of our great nation, all were not considered equal. Just as our Constitution has evolved to recognize that rights accrue not only to white male landowners, but to all Americans, so too have our courts evolved.
When the Supreme Court decided on June 26, 2015, that marriage is a fundamental right guaranteed to all Americans by the Constitution, the Obergefell decision did not take away the rights of others, it recognized that LGBTQ citizens deserve those same rights. Religions were not required to solemnize unions of those not practicing the same faith, nor were they forced to open their doors to any who did not adhere to their doctrines. The separation of church and state remained—upheld and confirmed by this decision. This was not a ruling made in haste. Prior to Obergefell marriage equality had already been established by law, court ruling, and voter initiative in 36 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam.
Despite this ruling, and the many others that uphold the separation of church and state, our basic rights as individuals are once again under siege. Our marriages, our families, and our children are at risk.
As your constituents, we implore you to consider our fundamental rights—as the Court did those of our African American brothers and sisters prior to the Loving v. Virginia decision in 1967—before moving forward to confirm any Justices to the bench. The right to visit our spouses in the hospital, to be with our children in sickness and in health, and to share a home without being dispossessed upon death is a basic, yet fragile right. The Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause both support our rights, as well. Denying us the fundamental rights that other Americans take for granted caused us substantial and continuing harm in the past and will again in the future, if the Court should turn its back on us.
As Justice Kennedy wrote for the Court:
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.
The confirmation of a Justice who has already made clear her opposition to this decision jeopardizes the hard-won rights of your constituents, endangers our families, and threatens our marriages and the future marriages of all LGBTQ Americans.
Please uphold the principle of separation between church and state. Defend our rights as your constituents, your community members, and your fellow Americans.
The Greater Erie Alliance for Equality
The Pennsylvania Commission on LGBT Affairs (statewide)
NWPA Pride Alliance, Incorporated (Erie)
TransFamily of NWPA (Erie)
Erie Gay News
Philadelphia Gay News
Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center (Allentown)
Keystone Business Alliance (Harrisburg)
The LGBT Center of Greater Reading
William Way LGBT Center (Philadelphia)
PA Youth Congress (statewide)
Centre LGBTQA Support Network (State College)
Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition (Lancaster)
LGBT Elder Initiative (Philadelphia)
Mark Barbee, Mayor of Bridgeport
Pennsylvania State Senator Larry Farnese
Pennsylvania State Representative Brian Sims
Pride at Work-Pennsylvania Chapter (statewide)
Triversity Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity (Milford)
LGBTQ+ Council of the City of Erie
cc: The Honorable Robert P. Casey, Junior; United States Senator
The Honorable Tom Wolf, Governor of Pennsylvania