The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 7, 2005

A solution to the gay marriage issue

To the Editor:

I propose a simple solution to the gay marriage issue:

Remove the government entirely from the "marriage business" by authorizing it to issue only "civil union" licenses.

These licensed civil unions would include all of the legal benefits and responsibilities currently created by today's marriage licenses. And, equally important, all individuals would be treated uniformly by the government regardless of their sexual orientation.

Marriage is generally viewed as a religious sacrament and this solution would place it under the sole purview of religion... as it should be. Religious organizations would be free to confer the sacrament of marriage upon civil union couples in accordance with organizational and personal beliefs. However, this action would carry no civil significance... nor should it.

This could totally negate today's divisive gay marriage issue. As dictated by our Constitution, all individuals would be equal in all areas of governmental concerns and free to practice religious beliefs of their own choosing without governmental interference.

Of course, the sensibility, sensitivity, and simplicity of this solution are sure to doom its adoption.

Al Powers
East Street

Keep children out of the debate

To the Editor:

The debate over same-sex marriage sometimes includes references to research showing that children of same-sex parents are at risk for developing problems — and that there is a deterioration of family life and family values when same-sex marriage is condoned. But there is no such research, period. To be sure, there are claims made by persons with doctorates, but the claims are not based on research, at least not on research following the commonly accepted guidelines of the scientific community and living up to the agreed-upon standards found in peer reviewed journals. On the contrary, there is a good deal of evidence already gathered that the sexual orientation of parents is not what matters when it comes to raising children and having a good family. What matters is that there is parenting that is stable and loving — and for that, gay couples are just as able and willing as the rest. For an example of good research on this issue, see the work of Ellen Perrin, Tufts professor of pediatric medicine. So, when debating this issue, let's leave out the children and vague references to the deterioration of the family.

George Scarlett
Faculty, Tufts University Department of Child Development
Partridge Lane

Writer refutes anti-gay statements

To the Editor:

I respect Madeleine Prendergast's and Sally Naumann's right to express their opinions against gay marriage, as they did in the Mosquito's September 30 issue. I believe they are sincere but misguided.

Ms. Prendergast is right that homosexuality hasn't been proved to be genetic or immutable. However, scientists involved in research into homosexuality's origins have said much evidence suggests it's genetic. certainly empirical evidence supports that. I didn't "choose" to be gay, and I don't know anyone who did.

Exodus International has had some success in changing gay people's behavior, but not their sexual orientation. Many people have emerged from Exodus severely depressed or suicidal. The American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association (both of whom urge support of gay marriage) have stated that ex-gay programs are harmful.

There are African-American clergy and laypeople on both sides of the gay marriage/civil rights issue. Corretta Scott King, Carol Moseley Braun, Julian Bond, and other prominent African-Americans support gay marriage.

Sally Naumann erroneously states, "Scandinavia (Norway and Sweden) have already tried same-sex marriage."

Actually, what they've tried, for about 10 years, is a form of civil union. She quotes a 2004 Boston Globe op-ed article by conservative scholar Stanley Kurtz, claiming that Scandinavia's registered partnerships prove gay marriage threatens straight marriage. But University of Mass. Amherst economics professor M.V. Lee Badgett has pointed out that since the advent of registered partnerships, divorce rates and out-of-wedlock births in Scandinavia haven't risen, and marriage rates have either stayed the same or increased. These rates, she writes, have been changing in Europe, the US, and Scandinavia for 30 years, with no connection between them and the presence or absence of legally recognized same-sex unions.

I respect traditional marriage. I wonder if either Ms. Prendergast or Ms. Naumann can imagine the joy my partner and I — and some 6,500 other gay and lesbian couples in this state — have felt at finally being able to legally enter into that tradition. I hope future loving couples here will be able to do the same.

Nancy Garden
Ember Lane

We are no less guilty if we discriminate simply because others do

To the Editor:

The basis of Madeleine Prendergast's argument is that homosexuality has never been proven to be genetic or immutable. As to whether it is genetic or not, Neil Swidey wrote a good survey on this for the Globe on August 14. After examining the latest researches on this subject, here is the conclusion: While post-birth development may well play a supporting role, the roots of homosexuality, at least in men, appear to be in place by the time a child is born. "Sexual orientation is something we are born with and not 'acquired' from our social environment."

Ms. Prendergast cited the Exodus-international sources to suggest that homosexuality is changeable. However, their practice has been roundly denounced by the scientific society. Homosexuality was taken off the list of psychological diseases many years ago. Ms. Prendergast implies that if gays are not willing to go through those dubious traumatic experiments, they must be gay by choice, consequently deserving discrimination.

We discriminate at our own peril. If Alan Turing, the creator of modern computer science, had been known as gay when he was deciphering Nazi Germany's Enigma codes, he would have been removed from military service, the Nazi code could not have been broken, and the Allies might have lost WWII. When Turing's gay identity was revealed after the war, he lost his security clearance and was forced into hormone treatments to "cure" his gayness. Physically abused and psychologically traumatized, he killed himself at the age of 42. How many tragedies like this must we endure before conscience is restored to our society? More important, are you contributing to these tragedies? What hypocrisy: those who raise the flag of morality are the very people who advocate discrimination! If people feel uncomfortable to be called "bigot" and "homophobe", how should gays feel being labeled "subhuman"?

Citing biased anti-gay data does not make one's own anti-gay rhetoric logically valid, nor does hiding behind the false veil of "majority opinion": the majority of society once thought the earth was flat and that diseases were cured by excessive bleeding! One might feel slightly relieved for not being the only one who thought the earth was flat, yet no one is less guilty if we discriminate simply because others do.

Zhiming Chen-Hossfeld
Elsinore Street

Marriage Protection Ammendment is wrong

To the Editor:

We are here. No matter how much conservatives continue to manipulate their followers and the general public, gays and lesbians will continue to be a part of the social fabric of this country. We are doctors, lawyers, and teachers of children. We build homes, run businesses, and bag groceries. We shop at the mall, exercise at the gym, and eat at restaurants. We work hard at our jobs and pay taxes to support the programs that keep this society alive. We are a community of men and women who love ourselves and each other without shame. We cannot, nor do we desire, to be changed, Ms. Prendergast. Whether we were born this way, chose an alternative "lifestyle," or were turned gay from Saturday morning cartoons is unimportant. We are gay, born of this world, and lay equal claim to the rights and privileges of our heterosexual brothers and sisters. And while Ms. Naumann and Ms. Prendergast are probably lovely, caring women, they too are being manipulated and used by a system that perpetuates acts of hate. It is important for all of us to understand that regardless of whether it is taught from the pulpit or the White House, accepted by other minority groups or not, this type of political action that attacks civil rights is bigoted, evil and wrong.

To support the Marriage Protection Amendment is to condone prejudice. I believe that the majority of Carlisle residents are more responsible than that.

As gays and lesbians, we will honor our relationships and families with or without the support or approval of intolerant individuals. We will continue to buy homes in Carlisle and send our kids to its fine schools. We will worship in its churches and actively participate in its political system. We will educate ourselves and move into positions of political and social power in order to drive change. We are not going anywhere. Fear, ignorance and prejudice are a far greater threat to the foundation of society than the sexual preference of a group of its citizens.

Brian Shea
Brook Street

Gay marriage does not harm traditional marriage

To the Editor:

Two letters in last week's Mosquito urge Massachusetts residents to sign petitions in favor of a constitutional amendment banning both gay marriages and civil unions. Like many of the letters I have read in area papers advocating discrimination against gays, these either claim or imply that allowing homosexuals to marry is somehow going to harm heterosexual marriage, which therefore needs protection.

I have yet to read any cogent description of how traditional marriage is threatened by expanding the boundaries of this institution to admit gays. This is not a zero-sum game, where adding marriages here means subtracting them there. And gays can hardly be blamed for the dissolution of traditional marriage and the nuclear family. Places like Texas, which staunchly oppose gay unions, have some of the highest rates of divorce and teen pregnancy, while Massachusetts — the only

state thus far to allow gays to marry — is among those states with the lowest rates.

In "Marriage, a History," Stephanie Coontz points out that changes in traditional marriage and family structure began to come about when marriages arranged for mercenary reasons began to give way to those based on love matches (think Romeo and Juliet in the 16th century). More changes came about through the advent of reliable birth control and the economic independence of women. All of these changes were brought about by heterosexuals, long before gays could even dream of having their unions recognized by law.

Since May 17, 2004, I have attended several gay weddings of family friends. Far from having my marriage diminished or threatened, I have felt my relationship with my husband and with my daughter and two sons, strengthened and enriched by getting to know these loving young couples and sharing in their commitment to each other. I am immensely proud of my state for being at the forefront in this important movement.

Margaret Darling
West Street

Police force was smaller back in 1975

To the Editor:

The article about Chief Galvin and the one-room police office in the Gleason Public Library brings back a fond memory of us moving to Carlisle. We moved here in 1975 and shortly after that, I was selected by the town to jury duty. I reported to the Middlesex Courthouse in Cambridge and was selected to be in the jury for a murder trial.They immediately sequestered me and I had to call my wife, Bea, to pack a suitcase for me and a court clerk would pick it up.

Bea was working at the time so I told her to put it near the front door of our house. When the court clerk came to Carlisle to pick up the suitcase he decided not to enter somebody's house without a town officer.

He came to the police office and could not find a policeman. So he stopped at Bob Daisy's gas station in the center of town and told him his problem. Bob Daisy told him not to worry since he could call someone on his police radio.

An officer showed up and they went to my house and got the suitcase. When the clerk returned to the court house in Cambridge, within ten minutes everyone there knew that he had gone to the Carlisle Police station and no one was there!

Hal Shneider
Bingham Road

2005 The Carlisle Mosquito