Saturday Mailbox


March 13, 2004

Gay marriages pose real threat to the rule of the law

No doubt Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, never thought his name would be associated with the likes of Orval Faubus, Lester Maddox and George Wallace. However, Mr. Newsom has a lot more in common with those men than he probably would like to admit ("Backing same-sex marriage," March 8).

All four men served in the executive branch of governments and, as such, swore oaths to uphold and enforce the laws. Despite these oaths, all apparently came to believe that because they were bigger than the law, their defiance of it was justified.

All four men stopped enforcing the law in accordance with their oaths and instead began interpreting and rewriting the law in accordance with their own views of fairness, morality and constitutionality, thereby invading the province of the courts and the legislatures.

For their efforts, all four men managed to find enough supporters to feed their egos and to convince them of the justness of their actions, despite opposition from a majority of Americans.

Of course, presiding over gay marriages in the face of a clear and unambiguous law to the contrary bears little resemblance to blocking schoolhouse doors to minorities and supporting segregation.

However, the ends are irrelevant. We live in a country where the means matter as much as the ends, and the rule of law must be respected for our system of government to function properly.

Thus, regardless of where one comes down on gay marriage or any other issue, Mr. Newsom's actions must be rejected by fair-minded and law-abiding citizens.

Mark W. Carmean

Chesapeake Beach

Base moral claims on human needs

I suppose one shouldn't expect fairness or balance from a columnist, but perhaps a column headlined "Fairness doctrine" (Opinion

Commentary, March 3) should be held to a higher standard.

Cal Thomas suggests there are only two possibilities for the basis of moral claims: objective, external, religiously rooted universal laws and subjective, individual, relativistic suggestions (which, he says, cannot be considered moral at all). I suspect Mr. Thomas knows better; there is a long history of inquiry into the basis of universal, objective, secular moral claims.

Here's one possibility: Moral standards can be rooted in the universal requirements of human personhood and the obligations we have to provide a space for (or at least refrain from interfering with) human flourishing.

And if it is true that loving, committed, adult relationships are an important ingredient of human flourishing (and who disagrees with that?), then this implies that we should provide a space for (or at least refrain from interfering with) adult homosexual unions.

Likewise, since abusive, unequal relationships (a few examples of which Mr. Thomas mentions as being on a moral par with homosexuality) interfere with the development of human persons, they should be deplored.

Naturally, in applying this standard, we are called upon to make our all-things-considered best judgment of what it entails.

But this is true when applying religious standards, as well; even with the help of revelation, it can be difficult to know what God requires of us.

Michael L. Anderson


Keep tobacco money funding public health

Recent Sun articles have highlighted the innovative cancer-related research coming from Maryland scientists ("Hopkins scientists link protein to colon cancer," Feb 4, and "Pollutants in 3 areas triple EPA estimates, study says," March 3).

What readers may not know is that this research was made possible through Maryland's tobacco settlement. These funds are playing a significant role in Maryland's emergence as a national leader in cancer prevention and control. Unfortunately, the budget woes facing our state make these funds a target for other initiatives.

As the General Assembly deliberates over next year's budget, I urge it to continue to use the Cigarette Restitution Fund to support important research and statewide public health programs.

This partnership between the state, its communities and its two leading cancer research institutions is essential to facilitate today's therapies and tomorrow's cures.

Dr. Martin D. Abeloff


The writer is director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Johns Hopkins University.

Change the gun laws to boost public safety

My congratulations to The Sun for its insightful and thoughtful stance on the reasonable gun safety bills before legislators, both nationally and statewide ("Assault time," editorial, Feb. 27, and "Guns and politics," editorial, March 4).

It is difficult to imagine how these bills could fail, particularly Senate Bill 288, the state assault weapons ban, given the public support shown in recent polls, as well as plain-old common sense.

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