To the Editor:

In a recent opinion piece, Peter Johnston asserts that advocates of same-sex civil marriage should stop skirting the question of morality (“Gay marriage question begs resolution,” 3/20). As a strong supporter of the right to marry, I am willing to take on his challenge: Extending the legal right to marry to same-sex couples is not immoral.

Many liberals, understandably, are so offended by the stentorian sanctimony of James Dobson and former U.S. Representative Bob Barr (R-Ga.), the thrice-married author of the ill-named Defense of Marriage Act, that they wish to eschew the question of morality altogether. By doing this, however, the left undermines its own arguments.

Mr. Johnston complains, “The presumptive opinion against intrusion into the lives of consenting adults does not prove the morality of [same-sex] marriage.” But this begs another question: Is it moral for the state to dictate the most private aspects of our lives? If the answer is yes, then the government should be able to pass legislation telling citizens whether they may work on the Sabbath or use contraception. It is debatable whether the government should be issuing anything with the word “marriage” on it at all, but so long as it does, it is immoral and discriminatory to deny it to certain couples.

Religious institutions reserve the right not to recognize marriages between people who are not members of their congregations, who are not of the same faith, or who have been divorced. Even if the state issues marriage licenses to two men or two women, religious institutions will not have to.

Nobody is harmed by same-sex civil marriage, but those to whom it is denied are faced with numerous legal disadvantages, to say nothing of the social stigma that such a denial entails. It’s not just that legalizing same-sex marriage is not immoral — it is in fact immoral not to do so.

Andrew Kohler ’07

March 20, 2006