Same-sex marriage strengthens and invigorates the institution

October 04, 2012

I am writing in response to Eric Lee's op-ed piece of Oct.2 opposing Question 6, the Marriage Equality Act ("Opposing gay marriage: It's not about hate"). Like many people I know, I will be voting for Question 6. I am a heterosexual woman who has been married to the same husband for 51 years. At the Episcopal church of which I am an active member, there are many same-sex couples in long-term committed relationships who embody the same vows I took so many years ago: to love and to cherish in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, and to be faithful until death. These are people who are active in church and community, hold responsible jobs, and are in every way contributing members of society. Their commitment to one another supports them in their lives the way my marriage does in mine, and deserves to be similarly honored.

Like Mr. Lee, I believe in marriage as an institution fundamental to the strength of our culture. His portrait of ideal marriage is one to which we should all aspire. But perhaps the question we need to be asking is why so many heterosexual marriages fall so far short of that ideal, ending in infidelity or divorce, or continuing in mutually inflicted misery. Or why so many young people no longer seem to feel the need to be married at all. We should all be dedicating ourselves to supporting those qualities in marriage that make it the "beautiful institution" that Mr. Lee refers to, rather than denying legitimacy to homosexual couples who are living out those qualities.

The reference to vegetarianism is a bit facile; we are dealing with the lives of real people, not hamburgers. But it does raise a useful point. I wouldn't dream of insisting that Mr. Lee eat a hamburger, but I would strongly object to his attempt to prevent me from eating one. Mr. Lee is still free to order a veggie burger, or to find another restaurant. I'm afraid that opposition to marriage equality feels to me like one group's effort to impose their belief system on everyone else.

In the course of this controversy there have been many references to Biblical passages that appear to reject homosexuality. But I like Genesis 1:31 — "And God saw everything that HE had made and indeed it was very good." Surely that includes the estimated 10 percent of the population that are biologically attracted to the same sex. Did the Holy One intend for them to be deprived of the blessing that marriage can be to the rest of us?

I would like to thank Mr. Lee for the civilized tone of his article, and I also include a shout-out to Ravens Matt Birk and Brendon Ayanbadejo who, in spite of the violent and adversarial nature of their profession, seem to have found a respectful way to disagree on the issue.

Finally, to those who oppose marriage equality for what seem to them to be very strong reasons, it may be that in the future there will be someone, perhaps a good friend or a family member, who is in a loving committed relationship with a person of the same sex. When an issue wears the face of someone you know and care about, hearts and minds can change.

Dale E. Balfour, Owings Mills

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