Proposed amendment misses the real threats to marriage

About 20 years ago when I was working at Children's Hospital, I met a gay man named Roger. It so happened that we had gone to theological seminary at about the same time (in the middle 1960s), and because of that point of connection, we became good friends. Through my friendship with Roger, I met his partner, Larry. Larry and Roger had been together 10 years when I got to know them. They had just moved from Philadelphia because of Roger's job offer at Children's Hospital.

In the course of time, Roger developed heart trouble. When I went to the hospital to visit Roger, Larry was in the room, nursing him back to health. Several months passed. Larry developed hip problems and had surgery. When I went to visit Larry, Roger was there, nursing Larry back to health.

For the life of me I can't see who is harmed by this relationship. I am baffled why anyone would object to two men who were in a permanent and faithful relationship helping each other recover from an illness, or for that matter setting up a household together. Certainly my wife's and my marriage hasn't been harmed. Neither have the marriages of our children been harmed, nor will the ability of our grandchildren to bond with another later in life be harmed because they have grown up in welcoming and affirming households.

If the issue behind the so-called gay marriage amendment is a desire to protect marriage, then we ought to address the conditions that threaten marriage, such as poverty, infidelity, spousal abuse and excess stress at the workplace, all well-known contributors to marital breakup.

If the issue behind the amendment is to look out for the well-being of children, then I would ask whether it is better for a child to languish in a foster home or a group home (or as often is the case in several foster homes), or to be adopted by loving parents who just happen to be of the same sex.

Through our church we know several loving and committed gay couples. Some of these couples do not have children. Some do. Those with children are exemplary parents, and their children are very lucky, indeed. And those of us in conventional marriages are happy to know these families.

Timberlake is a lecturer in Civil and Environmental Engineering and an ordained Presbyterian minister.

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