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Marriage Rights for Gays

LETTERS TO THE TIMES

November 29, 2003

Re "Activists Look for Ways to Establish Gay Marriage in California," Nov. 23: My partner and I are registered as domestic partners, but still there are reminders everywhere that we are not married. When we applied for health insurance for my partner our request was denied twice and delayed for nine months -- despite the fact that my employer voluntarily agreed to include her on the company policy -- because domestic partners are not automatically recognized by the insurance provider.

We finally got it straightened out, but only after my partner was rushed to the emergency room after a car accident with no health insurance. It was a terrifying moment.

Some people say that we are pushing too fast for our rights. When I am working alongside others, paying taxes and contributing to the strength of my community, I don't believe I should have to wait patiently to have the same rights as other people. For my partner and me, one day is too long to wait.

Amy Wilder Drake

Los Angeles

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Charlotte Allen's "Some Folks Just Shouldn't Get Married" (Opinion, Nov. 23) embodies the misperceptions about gay marriage that have been rife on the right. They are, no doubt, expecting to use this as a wedge issue in the elections, but what the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts decided was that the state could not limit the legal institution of marriage to "man and woman," that a gay or lesbian couple qualify for the same legal rights and obligations as a heterosexual couple. This is not to say that Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims or Buddhists are required to sanctify the union, only that the state must apply what is essentially civil contract law to grant the gay couple a legal framework of respect and protection.

A religion can make the requirement that a man and a woman be involved. A religion can say that both bride and groom must be believers in the same religion to have their union blessed by God; but that blessing is out of the province of the state's authority.

Conservatives say that if gays are allowed to make their unions legal, that somehow invalidates traditional marriage. Thus the shibboleth that is always mentioned in this line of attack: Why, if two men can marry, why not a man and his dog? Think of contract law. If two businessmen can draw up a contract, why can't a man and his dog? Because a dog cannot give consent. Only legal equals can sign contracts. An adult cannot marry a child, because a child cannot give consent. An invalid contract is not legally binding. Many clergymen from smaller churches are willing to bless gay marriages. Would Allen be saying that some churches' positions on the question should be endorsed legally but other religions' positions should not? Is that "freedom of religion"?

Jim Hassinger

Glendale

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In paragraph four, Allen offers these reasons: Keeping sexual activity within the family; stable emotional and financial conditions best for raising children; focusing energy and resources upon offspring and each other; financial and emotional protection after the passing of peak sexual attractiveness; powerful kinship networks; incentives for the accumulation and orderly transmission of property.

Thank you, Charlotte Allen. You only thought you were writing against gay marriage. Instead, you've just laid out the best reasons to support it!

Ryan R. Sanderson

Los Angeles

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In my opinion, Allen has it all wrong: It is not the prospect that "gay marriage" will unravel the fabric of this country that is the problem; the problem is that the fabric of homophobia and heterosexist privilege justifies socially permissible discrimination against 10% of the population.

Anne K. Guenther

Valley Village

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