Vanderbilt’s Harris tells Senate subcommittee to oppose Federal Marriage Amendment

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Christopher Harris, M.D., assistant professor of Pediatrics at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, told U.S. Senators that they should oppose any amendment to the U.S. Constitution as he testified before a Senate subcommittee about the Federal Marriage Amendment.

Harris advocated for civil marriage and told the committee that "it can help foster psychosocial stability and financial and legal security as well as an augmented sense of societal acceptance and support."

The Senate Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights listed for more than an hour to supportors and opponents during a hearing on “An Examination of the Constitutional Amendment on Marriage”. The committee is chaired by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), and the ranking democrat is Sen. Russell D. Feingold (D-Wisc.)

Also participating are: Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.); Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas); Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.); Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.); Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.); Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.); and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).

To amend the Constitution, the legislation must be passed by a two-thirds majority in the House and in Senate and then ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures.

Harris, who is a gay African-American, has a 3-year-old daughter and been a pediatrician for almost 20 years.

"As an African-American, I cannot express how strongly I feel about the prospect of adopting a discriminatory amendment into the Constitution of the United States," Harris told the Senators. "Much like the first article of the Constitution, relegating African-Americans to subhuman status, the ‘Marriage Protection Amendment’ seeks to reduce the rights of some American citizens to a fraction of those enjoyed by others. I urge the members of this subcommittee to learn from the mistakes of our past and not again condemn another class of Americans to second class citizenship for future generations to witness."

O&AN reporter Maria Gumina will have more on this story in the November issue of Out & About Newspaper.