Cheers and jeers for the proposed gay-marriage ban
Regarding the June 1 article "Gay marriage looms as 'battle of our times' ": Contrary to the claims of some, gay marriage is neither about "equality" nor "religious liberty." Rather, it is about the expression of natural law. I commend President Bush for recently backing a resolution to amend the Constitution to prohibit states from recognizing same-sex marriages.
The family is the fundamental cell of society. The family - and through it, all human society - has its source and origin in marriage. Marriage is ordered to the procreation and education of offspring.
As the basic expression of man's social nature, marriage truly exists solely between a man and a woman. The human development and mutual personal growth of the spouses and the proper nurturing of children, who are the fruit of such unions, make an immense contribution to the common good of society. One does not need to have any particular religion or belong to a particular political party to recognize this, or that the family based on marriage is the best way to bring up happy, productive children.
In defending traditional marriage and family, one does not limit, but, rather, defends personal freedom and dignity - as these qualities are realistically and authentically understood. Hopefully Republicans, Democrats, and Independents will come together to support this amendment.
The June 1 article about gay marriage being the battle of our times framed this issue as equality vs. religious liberty. But religious liberty is at stake on both sides. I grew up Quaker, a Christian sect that performs same-sex marriages, even though they are not recognized by the state. There are other sects - Jewish and Christian - that perform marriages or commitment ceremonies, and that even ordain gay clergy.
Each church should be able to decide how it wants to handle this issue, and it should not be dictated to by the state. The state should not be preferring the marriage rites of one church over another.
As a developmental-behavioral pediatrician, I must clarify a few points in the June 1 article on gay marriage. Medical and psychological research has consistently shown that children who grow up in gay or lesbian families show no measurable differences in mental health, socialization, or quality of relationships with parents when compared with other children. In 2005, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a report concluding "same-gender marriage harms no one, whereas prohibiting civil marriage for gays and lesbians harms these couples and their children."
What does pose a real threat to children is the Federal Marriage Amendment. If passed, this legislation would strip gay and lesbian families of legal protections guaranteed to other American families. In the area of healthcare alone, that would result in limited visitation rights, inadequate insurance coverage, inadequate protection in the event of the disability or death of one parent, and other obstacles to fair, equal medical treatment for children in families with gay and lesbian parents.
I hope that when they cast their votes on this amendment, senators will remember that they are not just voting about adult relationships: Their decisions will also affect the welfare and happiness of children whose parents just happen to be gay.
Ellen C. Perrin
Professor of pediatrics,
Tufts University School of Medicine
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