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QUOTATION: People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing. - Walter H. Judd

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2004-07-01 - 3:43 p.m.

...And Justice for All

Who would believe that in a country with a divorce rate of over 50%, people would continue to argue sanctity of marriage? If marriage is so sacred, why has it become a spectator sport on TV? It may have started with Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire, but it is far from ended there. ABC is “looking to spin off its fall reality season, “Wife Swap” with “Husband Swap” and “Boss Swap.” FOX has announced its “Trading Spouses,” a reality series chronicling mothers and fathers as they swap families.” So much for the sanctity of marriage.

According to a 1997 study by the General Accounting Office, there are at least 1,049 protections, benefits and responsibilities extended to married couples under federal law. Gay and lesbian couples in lifelong relationships pay higher taxes and are denied basic protections under the law. They receive no Social Security benefits upon the death of a partner, and are denied family leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. They must pay all estate taxes when a partner dies. They often pay significant tax penalties when they inherit a 401(k) from their partner. And in the case of a young man whose poem I read today, he continues to grieve because he had no influence to carry out his partner’s wishes to be cremated instead of buried. Members of his "family" made that decision.

Maggi Gallagher, the editor of Marriage Debate.com and the co-author of “The Case for Marriage,” argues speciously that “we need men and women to marry and make babies for our society to survive. We have no similar public stake in any other family form – in the union of same-sex couples or the singleness of single moms.” When last I checked, the world is becoming vastly overpopulated and the human species is in no danger of extinction even if not one of the same-sex couple ever procreate in the future. If you follow Ms Gallagher’s logic to its natural conclusion, post-menopausal or infertile women should not be allowed to marry either. She states, however, in her equally logical way that even when a man marries an older woman and they do not adopt, his marriage helps protect children in that if he keeps his vows, he will not produce out-of-wedlock children. She does not doubt the sincerity of people like me, people who argue for allowing gay marriages in the name of justice, compassion, and fairness, but considers it morally callous and socially irresponsible. She argues that marriage is the place where having children is not only tolerated but welcomed and encouraged, because it gives children mothers and fathers.”

Who would believe we would have such a difficult time passing legislation banning assault weapons in a country where children are so valued? I argue that the Constitution promises liberty and justice to all Americans, not just the majority…and not just for children either...and certainly not just for the NRA.

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