Protect all families' children

August 03, 2004|By Shaun Borsh

AS THE SAME-SEX marriage discourse heats up for election time, it appears there isn't much of a debate. Even though the Senate's procedural vote to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage failed, most politicians, as well as most Americans, oppose same-sex marriage.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist weighed in, "Will activist judges not elected by the American people destroy the institution of marriage, or will the people protect marriage as the best way to raise children? My vote is with the people."

Traditional marriage protects children.

My children are protected in the event my husband or I die. If questioned, the state of Maryland would acknowledge and defend the right of the surviving spouse to receive all of our marital assets, safeguarding our children from financial loss and hardship.

Are children of gay couples compromised by the state's succession law? Some might argue that children would benefit directly as the law does not recognize a same-sex partner as a legal spouse. The children would be next in line to receive death benefits. However, if the deceased parent is neither the biological parent nor on record as an adoptive parent, the children are not legally guarded.

Our family is protected by an employer-sponsored health insurance plan. The children's sick visits and annual checkups, including all immunizations, are covered by our medical insurance. In the event of an emergency room visit, our children are protected, without question, by our family medical package.

Is it right that children of gays and lesbians may not receive the medical and health benefits provided by an employer's insurance program because their family is, in fact, not legal?

In addition to the financial welfare of children, there are social indicators and cultural events that universally identify a family, marriage among them. Counting anniversaries and scrutinizing official documents give credence to the notion that we are an ongoing entity, a family. The mementos of birth and marriage certificates and notices acknowledge that a couple is recognized, with their children, as a component within our society.

Do we deny a child of a same-sex couple legal authenticity because his or her family is not traditional?

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has stated, "Traditional marriage, in my view and in the view of the vast majority of Marylanders and Americans, is the cornerstone of society. That used to be common sense. I look forward to the day when that returns to the category of common sense."

Is it common sense for a state, and its manager, to legally exclude children from the cornerstone of society? What value, traditional or otherwise, does that place on children whose parents cannot legally marry?

In our society, it is the responsibility of adults, including adult lawmakers, to care for and advocate for all children. As the political dialogue on same-sex marriage continues, consider all children. If marriage protects children, then to deny any child his parent's legal marriage is, at best, hypocritical.

Shaun Borsh lives in Columbia.

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