MarriageThe original decision of Williamson County, Texas...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

December 13, 1993

Marriage

The original decision of Williamson County, Texas, to deny tax benefits to Apple Computer Inc. because the computer maker provides benefits to unmarried domestic partners of its employees, generated a lot of discussion, and the decision was then reversed. Gay rights groups were particularly upset, even though most of the beneficiaries of Apple's benefit policies are heterosexual.

I oppose discrimination against gays and lesbians, but I find myself sympathizing with the Williamson County commissioners. Their first decision may have been partly driven by prejudice, but it is high time that we seriously considered the long term implications of domestic partner benefits like those offered by Apple.

People are increasingly concerned about the continued decline in the marriage rate and the growing number of children born to single mothers. Policies that discourage marriage are a major cause of this trend. The biggest disincentive is probably the tax code, with most married couple paying significantly higher taxes than they would if unmarried, and President Clinton's tax bill actually worsens the marriage penalty.

Meanwhile, the few advantages to marriage are disappearing, with major corporations like Apple, and cities like New York and Austin, offering fringe benefits to unmarried domestic partners. Socioeconomic analyses like those done by Nobel laureate Gary Becker strongly suggest that these policies will accelerate the decay of the institution of marriage.

If most of us feel comfortable with this decline in the married state, then we need do nothing. If however, we believe that marriage is important to our society, then we should, at the very least, remove penalties against marriage and perhaps provide incentives to encourage it. This would affect mainly heterosexual couples, but if gay rights groups feel that it discriminates against them, they should be fighting to have homosexual marriage legalized, as has already happened in Hawaii. Then they would have the same advantages and disadvantages as married heterosexuals.

A. V. Aiyengar

Baltimore

Replace McLean

I am writing in response to the excellent reporting by Kim Clark and Joanna Daemmrich regarding the gross violation of the public trust by Comptroller Jacqueline McLean (Dec. 4).

As you observed on your editorial page in conjunction with the story, municipal government and particularly the office of comptroller, have been free of clouds of doubt regarding the handling of city funds.

The municipal memory of our citizens just has to recall that comptrollers such as Dr. R. Walter Graham, Hyman A. Pressman and deputy comptrollers such as A. Dell and Richard Lidinsky exemplified the highest trust and selfless public service. Viewing this current lease circus against such a proud tradition of that office in city government is particularly shocking and sad.

Two other observations need to be made. First, it is bothersome but perhaps characteristic of Mrs. McLean's lack of public duty that she showed no remorse in her comments -- indeed only arrogance that makes one worry when the next scandal will occur.

Second, unless the City Council has the courage to move and replace her, the citizens of this overtaxed city face the prospect of her in office for two more years doing who knows what to our hard-earned tax dollars.

J. Levay

Baltimore

Bank Class

I'd like to correct a misimpression that your readers may have gotten from Sandra Crockett's Nov. 21 People section article, ''Kid Cents: Money Generate Plenty of Interest,'' on a ''financial seminar'' (as she described it) for a class of fifth graders at Owings Mills Elementary School.

The story erroneously attributed sponsorship of the classroom program to Neale Godfrey, a noted children's financial expert and author of ''The Kids' Money Book.''

I must point out, however, that the session (one of a series that we also presented to elementary schools in Havre De Grace and Frostburg) was entirely sponsored by Key Federal Savings Bank.

As part of our bank's commitment to consumer education -- about personal financial responsibility, in general, and responsibly managing one's credit, in particular -- we organized this special educational program as a community service to introduce children to money and banking and to help the schools meet their mandate to teach consumer ''survival skills,'' as required by the Maryland State Board of Education.

Key Federal engaged Ms. Godfrey to assist in presenting the classroom lectures.

We underwrote all the costs of the program, including donating a copy of Ms. Godfrey's book, a set of practice checks and a specially-imprinted pencil to each student; an oversize, re-usable demonstration'' check (along with a re-usable marker) and a complete semester-long lesson plan to the teacher of each class; and an additional two copies of Ms. Godfrey's book to each school's library.

I trust this information will set the record straight.

Jill Brader

Havre de Grace

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