May 11, 2012
Yesterday, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer announced his support for marriage equality in a statement referencing past civil rights battles surrounding marriage in America:
One of the first votes I cast as a member of the Maryland State Senate in 1967 was to repeal the anti-miscegenation statute that remained Maryland law. It was a legacy of a discriminatory history of prejudice and segregation. It was my feeling then and now that individuals have a right to choose their partners, and society must accord them that freedom.
We now confront a variation of that miscegenation issue, and that has been what to call the relationship between two people of the same gender. The word ‘marriage’ has held a specific meaning for centuries as the union between a man and a woman. But it has also meant, in a broader sense, a commitment of one person to another, recognized by each of them and by society.
I have believed that the phrase “civil union” was an appropriate definition of a relationship that is both different and the same between two people of the same sex. And I have believed strongly that such couples must be treated equally under the law.
Because I believe that equal treatment is a central tenet of our nation, I believe that extending the definition of marriage to committed relationships between two people, irrespective of their sex, is the right thing to do and will not, in any way, undermine the institution of marriage so important to our society nor impose a threat to any individual marriage. It will, however, extend the respect due to every one of our fellow citizens that we would want for ourselves and our children.
Also yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid clarified his earlier statement supporting marriage equality, where he stated that believed personally that marriage was between a man and a woman but that the government should allow all couples to marry. When asked by reporters if he would vote for a ballot measure Nevada legalizing marriage equality, he responded that he would.
As Metro Weekly notes, all of the Democratic Party’s elected leaders now support marriage equality.