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The m word. (reader forum).

The Advocate proudly proclaims "As governor of Vermont, Howard Dean signed a law giving equal rights to same-sex couples" on its cover only to have Chris Bull rip the man for not supporting gay marriage ["Pro-Peace, Pro-Health Care, Pro-Gay," April 1]. Dean understands what the gay rights movement does not: The word marriage is taboo. Our religious-based heterosexual society will balk at any attempt by homosexuals to have equal marriage rights. In my book, a civil union is the same as marriage; it just doesn't carry the same name. I thought we wanted to be different from straight society, but more and more we want to be just like them. Why?

Kurt S. Sauer, Allentown, Pa.

Howard Dean is to be commended for his role in obtaining civil unions for same-sex couples. However, civil unions are only a step forward in the march toward full equality for gays--equality can be achieved only through same-sex marriage. I am disappointed in Dean's failure to endorse full equality.

Marriage Equality New York, which works to obtain same-sex civil marriage, has successfully persuaded a number of elected officials to publicly endorse marriage equality for LGBT families, including four Republicans. We have found that support for same-sex marriage dramatically increases when we properly educate officials and citizens. There are persuasive arguments to be made to adherents of political ideologies across the board.

Timothy W. Cravens, board member

Marriage Equality New York

Peekskill, N.Y.

As a Vermonter who is "party to a civil union," there is much I could bemoan about how civil unions are not truly equal to marriage. On the other hand, knowing that I can go to the emergency room with my partner and be treated the same as a spouse in a straight couple makes the problems with civil unions seem small. There are only about 500 of us couples in Vermont, a state with only 600,000 people, so we are truly a minority among minorities.

Thank you for giving Governor Dean the boost he deserves on his road to the White House.

Christopher Byrne, Shoreham, Vt.

I applaud Howard Dean for having the most progressive stance on gay rights of all the Democratic field at this stage. That said, I do have one concern. He seems to see civil unions as the perfect solution for equal marriage rights. Dean forgets that "separate but equal" has been viewed by our courts as inherently unequal, and denying gay people the word marriage continues the falsehood that marriage needs protection from our participation. He views civil unions as granting the exact same rights because a gay Vermont couple in a union has the same rights he does in his marriage. But when Dean and others who have been married in Vermont cross the state line, what rights do they lose?

Kim Siegel, Newark, Del.

How appropriate that Chris Bull's interview with Howard Dean appeared in the April 1 issue. Only on April Fool's Day could a man claim to be our community's friend after personally ensuring that Vermonters with AIDS who use medical marijuana continue to face arrest and jail.

A medical marijuana bill passed the Republican-controlled Vermont house last year only to be killed by Dean's arm-twisting. The governor justified his actions to the gay press with a succession of whoppers: First, he claimed that the bill would have allowed patients to possess three pounds of marijuana (actually it was three ounces); then he insisted that state medical marijuana laws somehow undermine FDA drug approval. Memo to Dr. Dean: The FDA doesn't jail people for using unapproved drugs, as the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association and many others explained as they pleaded with you not to kill the bill.

I got involved in this issue because I have friends with AIDS who literally would be dead without medical marijuana--people who cannot keep their anti-HIV pills down without marijuana to curb the nausea. Being in a civil union is wonderful, but it's of little value if you're dead.

Bruce Mirken, communications

director, Marijuana Policy Project

Washington, D.C.
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Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Apr 29, 2003
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