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Friday, June 22, 2007

Rights of Minorities Not Subject to Vote

Letter published in Baltimore Sun--June 22, 2007

The Massachusetts legislature, with the full-throttled support of Governor Deval Patrick, was correct in defeating a move to overturn the state's existing marriage law that includes same-sex couples (Challenge to gay marriage in Massachusetts falls short, June 15).

The backers of the proposed constitutional amendment to reverse the 2004 court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage are lamenting the outcome because they prefer the voters to decide on who should be entitled to the rights, benefits and responsibilities of marriage.

The problem with that position is that it would put minority rights up for a popular vote, which historically would be un-American. Had such a vote taken place in the past, interracial couples would not likely be allowed to be legally married today.

These same opponents have argued that expanding marriage to include same-sex couples would destroy marriage as an institution. Approximately 8,500 same-sex couples in Massachusetts have been married since 2004, and the state maintains its position as having the lowest divorce rate of the 50 states.

It is fair to conclude, based on that fact, that same-sex marriage does nothing to harm the institution, but in fact strengthens it by allowing a broader portion of the population to participate. The sky did not fall as many of same-sex marriage opponents had feared.

Steve Charing

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