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Long Beach's Vote on Defining a Family

March 14, 1993

Regarding Long Beach City Council's recent vote to define a "family" by function rather than by blood or law (Times, March 4):

My cousin was married and divorced three times before her 30th birthday. By contrast, I have two gay friends who have been making a life together for 24 years. My cousin was eligible for full spousal benefits during (and after) each of her marriages. My friends have never been.

My cousin's record may look like traditional family values to some, but my friends, for my money, have a far more legitimate family.

As a single person, I've always subsidized plenty of "traditional" family benefits. My taxes pay for the education of children that are not my own, and for spousal (and family) benefits to most government employees. I have no problem with this, because I believe that the family is important to American life. However, I do not believe that the benefits of being considered a family should be awarded or withheld according to the tenets of any particular religious group.

So, I support the broader definition. Any two people who have a real and ongoing commitment to each other, regardless of the circumstances, are certainly more worthy of being called a family than are, for example, the separated-but-still-legally-married, or those who are related but so estranged they never communicate.

STAN HOFFMAN

Redondo Beach

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