Friday, February 13, 2004

San Francisco's new mayor, Gavin Newsom, has defied the state in approving the issuing of same-sex marriage licenses in the city. Yesterday, the first of these marriages took place. To me, the only question is, why did it take so long for SF to make that decision?

Years ago, when I first met Gavin Newsom at a community meeting, I really liked him. Then, over the years of his political rise, I started to think less of him personally, and put him more into the category of political weasel, something I was convinced of during the recent mayoral campaign. But with this move, I'm back in Gavin's corner.

The "defense of marriage" people have been making a big stink about how marriage is supposed to be about a man and a woman because the whole point of marriage is the creation and raising of children. I find this argument to be both culturally wrong and personally insulting.

According to these folks, my marriage doesn't qualify as "valid" because after nearly eight years, Leslie and I have still not chosen to have children. By today's standard of quickie divorces, ours is already considered a "long-term" marriage, but (according to these culture guardians) we're destroying the institution by remaining childless.

Meanwhile, I know of many same-sex couples who, without the benefit of a legal marriage certificate, are raising healthy, happy children in loving households. While Britney Spears defends marriage with a 48-hour "mistake", these honest people who are committed to their families are refused basic rights that others can take for granted.

I'm on the board of a nonprofit agency that finds adoptive and foster homes for hard-to-place children. These aren't cute babies; these are older kids and teens who have severe emotional, mental, or physical problems. They've been removed from abusive situations by the courts, and then we find them a new home. I've seen how the proper foster or adoptive parents can turn around a troubled kid who previously had no future to look forward to, and I've seen that it works with same-sex couples, as well as single parent situations.

How dare these self-appointed guardians of the moral order tell us that gays and lesbians are the reason why marriage is in danger when fewer than 50% of heterosexual marriages continue "'till death do we part." "Family" and "home" can mean many things to different people. It's not up to the state to define those terms, only to grant equal rights to all, however they chose to define commitment.

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