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Must Marriage Be Based on Procreation?

March 16, 2004

Re "Family Matters," Opinion, March 14: In arguing that gays do not deserve the right to marry because they cannot procreate, Douglas Kmiec nevertheless defends the right of childless straights to wed because they are "the exception," saying that legislatures "don't write laws based on the exception." But it is the exception that proves the fallacy of his logic.

The state endorses marriage not to promote procreation (nature has taken care of that) but to ensure that any children who emerge are born into stable households. Gay marriage does nothing to undermine this social objective, while doing much to strengthen it for the small number of children who do have gay parents. Any logic that justifies sterile straight marriages also justifies gay marriages -- unless your real objective is simply to keep marriage "for straights only."

Nathaniel Frank

Brooklyn, N.Y.

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Kmiec's column explained the legal issues of gay marriage quite well. Sex is a union of male with female. As such, gays do not have sex. They can only engage in sex play. If the polarity is missing, the act is not sex; and a union between like genetic material is impossible.

I might want, with all my heart, to play center for the Lakers. But I'm too old, too short, female and a terrible athlete. It would be ridiculous for me to suggest I am entitled to play with the Lakers because I have the same rights as any human.

Gays are entitled to form unions that meet their needs and give them full protection under the law. But they need to do so without trying to redefine sex and marriage.

Rosemary Patterson

Los Angeles

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Perhaps the most offensive assumption in Kmiec's piece is the following: "Same-sex relationships are largely self-regarding.... Gay partners cannot fulfill the duties and obligations long expected of marriage." This is the peak of heterosexual conceit.

Thousands of gay men and women have loved for decades, cared for sick and dying partners and shared responsibility for children and aging parents. What is "marriage" if not that?

Clint Trout

West Hollywood

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Kmiec makes the sweeping generalization that single-parent households and their statistical child-rearing problems would be repeated in gay-parent households, without any evidence. But even more heinous is the suggestion in his statement, "Some researchers

Kmiec wants to present a calm, logical argument against gay marriage, and then suddenly he starts tossing in hysterical allegations about exactly why gays shouldn't be allowed to raise children. I have yet to hear a single reason that I can agree with for denying homosexual couples the right to marry.

Kevin Bannerman

Los Angeles

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Bravo for publishing a lengthy, well-thought-out argument against gay marriage -- one that is restrained in its emotions and well reasoned in both the historical and the current need for strong heterosexual marriage. Bravo for allowing Kmiec the space to adequately present his explanation.

Jeff Combe

Temple City

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I have a question: My husband and I are in our 70s. When one of us dies would the other, no longer capable of procreation, be barred from remarriage?

Phyllis Schoen

Los Angeles

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Kmiec argues that marriage is based on procreation, and that is the obvious reason it should be reserved for a man and woman only. Given that most of the world's problems, shortages and disparities are due to overpopulation, maybe it's time to outlaw marriage.

Jim Kalin

Los Angeles

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