Statement of Michael Cooper, 15, Springfield, VA on the Federal Marriage Amendment

March 23, 2004

 Michael Cooper

Michael Cooper

Photo Courtesy of Family Pride Coalition

Hello.  My name is Michael and I am 15 years old and a sophomore at West Springfield High School.  I live in Springfield with my mother, who is a lesbian.  I wanted to thank you for being here because a lot of people have been talking about ""gay marriage"" and the proposed amendment banning it.  All too often, this discussion focuses on abstract ideas, and I think more people - including members of Congress need to understand that there are people, real people-that this amendment would affect.

The people who wrote this amendment are basically saying that families that have gay and lesbian parents - like mine - aren't real families.  Not only are they not real families - but the supporters of the amendment want to take away the few rights and protections that our families might obtain through local governments.  That makes no sense, and it isn't fair.  It isn't right.  It isn't what living in America is about. And seeing as history is one of my favorite subjects, I should know.  

In history, I've listened for years about how America was founded on basic ideas of freedom and independence.  Somehow it just doesn't seem very free to say gay and lesbian couples can't have a family because they are gay.  I remember Loving v. Virginia, where black people and white people weren't allowed to marry in many states until the Supreme Court stepped in and said that it was wrong to deny them those marriage rights.  Back then, people wanted to deny marriage rights to interracial couples just as much as they want to deny them to committed gay and lesbian couples today.

Some people who support this amendment say they do so for the children.  Well, let me say this - they're not doing it for this child.  I've turned out pretty normal - Like most teenagers, I love music.  I am involved in a lot of activities at school, including, the Young Liberals Club and Japanese Club.  I am also president of the school's Gay/Straight Alliance (called SAGE for Straight and Gay Equality). 

I became active in SAGE and in COLAGE, Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere, because I saw something I believed in and I wanted to get involved in it.  I wanted to add my voice to the debate about an issue I care about and that affects me directly everyday.  And that is why I am here today, because I believe in America and the freedoms with which the country was founded. The Constitution was written by the people, for the people and some of those people are gay.  Writing discrimination into the Constitution is simply wrong and goes against the spirit of the document. That's not what America is about.  It's about freedom, and I for one, think every family should have the freedom and the right to be a family.  

Thank you.

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