- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 4, 2001

Where is the harm in same-sex marriage?

I scanned Marriage Law Project staff attorney Wendy Herdlein's letter to The Washington Times for direct evidence of the purported damage that will be inflicted by the legal recognition of same-sex marriages ("The damage of same-sex marriage," Aug. 1). I found everything but.

Ms. Herdlein argues that same-sex marriage would damage marriage because divorce and cohabitation damage marriage. Have opponents of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples simply given up on any pretense of logical progression? Have they decided that merely listing same-sex marriage as part of a longer list of horribles is enough of an argument? How, exactly, does the acceptance by a same-sex couple of the commitment and responsibility of civil marriage equate to divorce and cohabitation?

Ms. Herdlein writes, "Many same-sex 'marriage' advocates are forthright about using gay 'marriage' to change the way society views marriage or even to abolish marriage altogether." She must know that this claim is untrue, or at least a half-truth. Advocates of same-sex marriage believe that the "change" wrought in marriage by same-sex partners will be to provide an example of equality and sharing between the partners in those marriages. How that represents a threat is beyond my powers of cognition.

Nor do advocates of same-sex marriage believe that achievement of their goal will end in the abolishment of marriage. Ms. Herdlein surely must know that it is not the advocates of same-sex marriage who believe marriage to be a failed institution. Those advocates regularly find themselves debating members of their own communities who argue that marriage is not a worthy goal. Marriage critics, not marriage advocates, claim that marriage is a failed institution.

What possible interpretation can I draw from her claim other than that she either fails to understand the diversity of opinion among lesbian and gay groups and individuals or that she is willing to misrepresent that diversity of opinion?

I urge Ms. Herdlein and her organization to rethink their attack on people who should not be opponents but natural allies in speaking about the positive aspects of marriage and in making marriage desirable and possible for more people.

Ms. Herdlein may not realize it, but she's shooting at her own troops.


JOHN WILKINSON

Seattle




Wendy Herdlein of the Marriage Law Project writes about the fact that same-sex marriage will "tragically weaken the very concept of marriage." She fails to demonstrate how and why this weakening will occur.

She further asserts that government should be "discouraging the harmful" in reviewing what our laws are saying about marriage. For the life of me, I cannot understand how my long-term committed and monogamous relationship is harmful to marriage or married people. It seems to me that if those like Ms. Herdlein would tend to their own relationships and leave mine alone, we'd all be much better off.


MICHAEL E. ARMENTROUT

Washington

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