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In recent years (notably in California in 2008) the religious right has adopted the strategy of diverting attention from the merits of same-sex marriage--the social stability benefits, personal rights, absence of harm to others, and so forth--to the age-old concept of "marriage" By promoting public election referenda defining marriage as only between man and woman, the strategy is succeeding and will continue to succeed.

Being lured into such a debate is a grave error. Rather, the uniform, sustained effort should be concentrated on legislation defining same-sex rights, including social security support, inheritance, visitation, adoption, and so on, defining legal "Civil Unions Similar to Marriage" and thus transforming the question/issue.

John Tomasin, Esq.

West New York, NJ

In his January/February 2009 column ("Freedom for Me but Not for Thee: Marriage and Mormons in California"), Rob Boston concludes: "We simply can't have a situation where people in certain states, prodded by religious groups with regressive views, are permitted to strip a certain segment of the population of an increasing number of rights."

I sympathize, but I don't agree. He sees this as a civil rights issue. I see another side--the effort to protect the rapidly deteriorating institution of marriage. I see marriage as a means of forcing men and women to cooperate for the common good. The common good being to raise the children they produce to become good citizens. Even with today's weakened institution, sociological studies can be conducted to determine whether marriages actually work in producing a new generation of good citizens. Take a look at teenage pregnancies and run-ins with the law and see what percentage of that population come from stable marriages. I'll hazard a guess that a good 80 percent or more come from single-parent homes, unmarried parents, or failed a marriage.

I hope you'll do people like me a favor. I know we're a very small minority of the humanist population, but if humanists are truly committed to the idea that "we derive our principles from science and reason" we should be able to take a look at this overly emotional matter of marriage with a scientific outlook.

Laverne Rison

Albuquerque, NM

Rob Boston responds:

I have never understood the argument that gay people must be punished or denied civil rights because some heterosexuals have failed to keep their families intact. Marriage is about two people committing publicly to one another and does not necessarily implicate child-rearing. Of course, many couples who marry do go on to have children. If we want to boost the odds that those children will be raised in a two-parent home, it would make sense to expand the right of marriage to same-sex couples. Many of them have children, after all.

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Title Annotation:Letters
Author:Tomasin, John; Rison, Laverne
Publication:The Humanist
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2009
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