Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 26, 2004

It's intolerance that threatens to ruin marriage

What is striking about Gregory Kane's column arguing against same-sex marriage is how little he has to say in it about same-sex marriage ("Barring same-sex unions is in the state's best interest," July 21).

Mr. Kane asks if there isn't a compelling state interest in preserving the nuclear family unit of husband, wife and children. What he doesn't say is how equal marriage rights for same-sex couples would destabilize those marriages.

He argues that polygamy was once found to violate compelling state interests. But if the stability of families is the issue, polygamy is categorically different from same-sex marriage.

A marriage means the individuals are bound by oath and law to stop looking for other partners. A polygamous union may allow for remarriage at will, bringing new people into the household at any time.

You can debate the effect this has on families. But you can't deny that this makes polygamy a fundamentally different thing from same-sex marriage.

Mr. Kane says it was not heterosexuals but the left's "culture of whoopee" that ruined the institution or marriage. But it was not the left that made moral seriousness laughable. It is the right that has encouraged people to turn away from moral concerns by making morality a byword for small-minded prejudice.

I disagree that marriage is in ruins, but if it ever becomes that way, it would be in large measure because of the efforts of conservatives such as Mr. Kane to turn it from a celebration of love and mutual commitment into a ritual of intolerance and exclusion.

Bruce Garrett

Baltimore

State doesn't belong in marriage business

I was saddened and disappointed to read Gregory Kane's column against extending the benefits of marriage to same-sex couples ("Barring same-sex unions is in the state's best interest," July 21). It seems to me that the existence of children in the families of same-sex couples provides a compelling state interest for legalizing their parents' relationship.

Gregory Kane says, "Yes, we can argue that if two people go down to any City Hall in the country and apply for a marriage license, then it's no business of the government if those two people are a man and a woman, or two men or two women. But what if the man and woman are brother and sister?"

Well, as it happens I lost my favorite spinster aunt a few years ago. Although she spent years in the work force, she quit to nurse her brother, a life-long bachelor, through a terminal illness. When he died, she was ineligible for the benefits that would have accrued to his wife.

I think our system is broken when someone can't opt to add someone to their benefits just because their life decisions are nonstandard ones.

Perhaps what would please everyone is for the state to get out of the marriage business. Perhaps the state could issue licenses that would legally bind two people together, and would take legal action to undo - and then we could leave the marriage ceremonies for churches.

That way, no religion would be forced to sanction a relationship it doesn't condone, but families could receive the legal protections a marriage now offers, such as survivors' benefits and ensuring legal custody of children.

Eva Whitley

Westminster

How can Bush criticize judges?

Just about every time he speaks against gay marriage, President Bush criticizes "activist" judges who disregard the will of the majority.

I don't understand this. Doesn't he owe his presidency to such judges?

Robert Payne

Frederick

Iraqi atrocities aim at pushing U.S. out

In his column "Bracing for the next atrocity in Iraq" (Opinion

Commentary, July 20), Nathaniel Fick writes that "we should expect to witness the televised butchering of an American solider. The intent of this shock tactic would be twofold: to provoke an irrational response by our troops and to demoralize the American public."

Mr. Fick misses the obvious: The Iraqis could commit such acts because they don't want U.S. troops in their country.

Michael Melick

Baltimore

Carelessness isn't limited to Democrats

In her column "Berger might have had a good reason to swipe documents" (Opinion * Commentary, July 22), Linda Chavez chides former aides to President Bill Clinton, in particular former National Security Adviser Samuel R. Berger, for their lack of seriousness in handling classified material. She implies that this is a trait only of the Clinton administration.

As a former government employee, she must know that this laxity predates Mr. Clinton's presidency. During the Reagan era, I held a security clearance in connection with my job for a defense contractor. It never ceased to amaze me, a liberal Democrat, how cavalier folks were about classified material.

One day I hand-delivered a proposal to the Navy. Without looking up, the gentleman in charge of the room instructed me to place the document on the table on the right if it was classified or on the table on the left it was not.

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