COURSEY: In defense of all marriages

My first marriage was blown apart by mental health and substance abuse issues. My second marriage was killed by cancer.

So pardon my skepticism about the arguments being made this week in Washington, D.C., that marriage needs to be protected from the scourge of homosexuality.

Today the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments for and against the federal Defense of Marriage Act. What a crock. Marriage may need defending from such threats as illness, financial disaster, infidelity and indifference, but how is it threatened by the love and commitment of two people who want to spend their lives together – even if they happen to be the same gender?

On Tuesday the court took up the question of California's Proposition 8, by which the state's voters outlawed same-sex marriage in 2008. That law has since been thrown out by a federal judge and an appeals court, but proponents want it reinstated, particularly considering "society's interest in responsible procreation," according to Charles Cooper, who argued the case in favor of Prop. 8.

Really? If government had an interest in "responsible procreation" we wouldn't still be arguing about "abstinence-only" sex education and distributing condoms in schools.

Besides, who says marriage needs to be about procreation? Kids are created every day without marriage being involved. And many of them – like 12-year-old Daniel Martinez-Leffew of Santa Rosa, who was featured on Page 1 of Tuesday's Press Democrat – end up being raised by married couples who are unable to have children of their own. In Daniel's case, that couple happens to be his dad, Bryan Leffew, and his other dad, Jay Leffew.

Would Daniel (and his sister, Selena, 8) be better off if his adoptive parents were denied the same rights and opportunities of other married couples? Would "society's interests" be better protected? Would other marriages be safer?

The answer to all of the above is clearly "no."

But these questions and arguments are really beside the point, because the real issue in this debate is equality.

The federal Defense of Marriage Act affects a range of benefits to federal employees, denying same-sex couples such things as tax breaks, survivor benefits and health insurance for spouses. Defenders of DOMA say it is necessary so all employees will be treated the same no matter where they live, whether that state allows same-sex marriage or not.

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