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House of Representatives H-232, The Capitol Washington, DC 20515 The Honorable Kevin McCarthy, Majority Whip U.S. House of Representatives H-107, The Capitol Washington, D.C. 20515
The Honorable Eric Cantor, Majority Leader U.S. House of Representatives H-329, The Capitol Washington, DC 20515
December 18, 2012
Dear Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Cantor and Majority Whip McCarthy: With the election behind us, the American people are ready for our leaders in Washington to work together responsibly on behalf of the nation’s best interests. As you welcome the start of a new Congress, there is much to be done to ensure America’s future is as bright as its shining past, serving as a beacon of hope for all who wish to pursue the dream of freedom, prosperity and happiness. And as leaders of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) advocacy organizations, we wanted to take this opportunity to write about one major way you can ensure the House efficiently serves the American people: by ending its unpopular and costly defense of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Despite the enormous economic challenges our country is facing, the House of Representatives recently decided to increase government spending to defend this discriminatory law – a law that intentionally harms thousands of Americans who are legally married. Exit polls from last month’s election indicate that the economy was overwhelmingly the number one concern for voters, with nearly 60 percent saying it was the most important issue facing lawmakers. The deficit and foreign policy also proved top of mind for voters, 34 percent of whom said their financial situation was worse off today than it was four years ago. To that end, a 2004 report from the Congressional Budget Office estimates federal individual income and estate tax revenues would actually increase $700 million per year if DOMA did not mandate the nonrecognition of marriages of same-sex couples. At the same time, voters in three states approved marriage equality and, in Minnesota, rejected writing a marriage ban into their state’s constitution. A strong majority of Americans support marriage for loving, committed same-sex couples – including an increasing number of conservatives. With more states allowing committed same-sex couples to obtain civil marriage licenses, DOMA imposes burdens on hard working, tax paying citizens. There’s no good reason to treat couples who have taken on the commitment of marriage as single, and deny them spousal protections like Social Security survival benefits, family health and federal pension benefits, and the ability to take unpaid leave to care for a sick or injured spouse. It’s not surprising that recent polling from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner found that a majority of Americans oppose DOMA and the Republicans’ defense of it in court. Americans have sent a clear message that they want lawmakers to focus on strengthening our economy, creating jobs, and securing a bright future for generations to come. Spending $2 million – and counting – on harming LGBT people and wasting precious time and resources that should be spent on more important issues is not the way to best serve the interests of the American people. We strongly urge you to take a leadership role on this critical issue and stop pouring taxpayer dollars into a law that discriminates against Americans.
Our country is facing major challenges that we will only solve by standing united. It’s time for us to collectively focus on how we can make our great nation even stronger, and leave behind the archaic laws that exist simply to divide us. To that end, we encourage you to end your taxpayer-funded contract for outside legal services defending discrimination. Sincerely,
Chad Griffin, President Human Rights Campaign
Allyson Robinson, Executive Director Outserve-SLDN
Rea Carey, Executive Director National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund
Justin Nelson, President & Co-Founder National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
Winnie Stachelberg, Executive Vice President, External Affairs Center for American Progress
Rachel Tiven, Executive Director Immigration Equality Action Fund
Terry Stone, Executive Director CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
Selisse Berry, Founding Executive Director Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
Hector Vargas, Executive Director GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality
Michael Munson, Executive Director FORGE, Inc