write to the attorney general

(via b!X) Governor Ted Kulongoski has asked the State Attorney General Hardy Myers for an opinion on the legality of same sex marriage in Oregon. Myers has released a list of the questions on which he will focus and provided a comment form through which residents can provide feedback. My letter to the Attorney General is below.
Update: today’s Oregonian reports that Myers will not finalize his opinion until tomorrow at the earliest — so get writing!
Dear Attorney General Myers:
thank you for this opportunity to comment on such a vital issue. I am not a lawyer, and so cannot speak to the legal complexities before you. At the bottom of all of the argument over same sex marriage, however, lies what I believe to be a simple question: do we want America to be a country in which gays and lesbians are officially second class citizens?
For that is exactly what we will be accepting, if we deny gay and lesbian citizens the right to marry. Civil unions and domestic partnership registries and all the other “separate but equal” paraphernalia are merely another way of saying “these people are different in the eyes of the law”. Even if civil unions offered the exact same privileges and immunities as marriage — which they do not — such provisions amount to nothing short of apartheid. Forcing same-sex couples to formalize their commitment by a separate process will no more constitute equal treatment than separate schools constituted equal treatment for African-Americans in the middle of the last century.
I have heard, as I am sure you have, a great many arguments against same sex marriage. Many of these are identical to arguments that were put forth against racial integration or inter-racial marriage, and the most honest of them amount to no more than reflexive rejection of change; many are a thin disguise for prejudice.
Marriage is what society decides it is; the institution has a history of change, after all, since women are no longer chattels and inter-racial marriage is commonplace. Children do not define marriage — for instance, my wife and I have, and will have, no children. In any case, several decades’ worth of research has found no inkling of a reason why gay couples should not adopt (see, for example, the references listed below). There is no theological barrier to same sex marriage, because no scripture gives a definitive answer and for every clerical opponent of gay marriage there is another, often of the same denomination, who has performed such marriages him- or herself. The much-bruited idea that same sex marriage will somehow make heterosexual marriage “less meaningful” is simply ridiculous. No marriage, be the couple gay or heterosexual, has any means of impact on the value or quality of any other marriage. As for the institution, I dare say it will only benefit from an influx of many thousands of couples and families eager to join, celebrate and consecrate it.
I write, then, to ask you to keep justice foremost in your thoughts as you wrestle with the law. As it was in earlier civil rights debates, so it is now the role of the courts to see clearly which way lies justice, and to light that way for the people they serve.
sincerely,
Bill.
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References on children in gay families:
from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
PEDIATRICS Vol. 109 No. 2 February 2002, pp. 339-340 (link)
PEDIATRICS Vol. 109 No. 2 February 2002, pp. 341-344 (link)
Anderssen, N et al. Outcomes for children with lesbian or gay parents. A review of studies from 1978 to 2000. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology Volume 43 Issue 4 Page 335 September 2002 (link)
Allen M, Burrell N. Comparing the impact of homosexual and heterosexual parents on children: meta-analysis of existing research. J Homosex. 1996; vol 32 number 2 pp. 19-35 (link)
Patterson CJ. Children of lesbian and gay parents. Child Dev. 1992 vol 63 number 5 pp. 1025-42.
Hunfeld JA, et al. Child development and quality of parenting in lesbian families: no psychosocial indications for a-priori withholding of infertility treatment. A systematic review. Hum Reprod Update. 2002 vol 8 number 6 pp. 579-90.