WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today after President Obama’s comments yesterday in support of marriage equality:
“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.”