I was highly amused to read Peter Johnston’s column in the News yesterday (“Gay marriage question begs resolution,” 3/20). He challenges his fellow students to explain why gay marriage is moral. Ironically, the strongest argument in favor of the morality of gay relationships and gay marriage was made earlier by Johnston himself on this very page (“Love, not tolerance, makes one righteous,” 1/9).

In the earlier column, Johnston rightly calls love the “standard of righteousness.” Gay marriage is, at its essence, society conferring the benefits of marriage on any two people who love each other deeply, regardless of the fact that they have the same gender.

I’ve heard it argued, most notably by Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) on the floor of the Senate, that gay couples cannot truly love each other. I have observed this to be completely false. In my life at and outside Yale, I have witnessed many relationships, both gay and straight, and I cannot find a fundamental difference between gay and straight couples, other than gender. I know gay couples that are as loving as any straight couple.

If Johnston, or anyone else, does not believe me on that point, I strongly suggest he go out and talk to gay people and gay couples in an honest, non-confrontational manner. He would find that gay relationships have the same joys and the same sorrows as straight relationships. If someone had asked me my position on gay marriage as a senior in high school, I do not know how I would have answered. But as a senior in college, I have seen more than enough evidence to make up my mind.

Almost four years at Yale have cleared me of any stereotypes I might have had about gay people, and it is mostly on these misconceptions that opposition to gay marriage is based. For instance, I cannot take seriously the canard that gay people are more promiscuous than straight people. I know many promiscuous straight people, many promiscuous gay people, many prudish straight people and many prudish gay people. More importantly, the experiences of Massachusetts and Connecticut show that gay couples take the benefits and responsibilities of marriage as seriously, if not more seriously, than straight couples.

Loving relationships are the very basis of morality: a point on which Johnston would seemingly agree with me. Thus, gay relationships and gay marriage are moral, by the very code that Johnston laid out.

There are those who argue that marriage between two people of the same gender degrades marriage between people of opposite genders. As a Congressional intern during the summer of 2004, I found this argument to be the most common given in favor of the Marriage Protection Act, which was being debated at the time. (On a side note, I find it a highly Orwellian assertion that marriage needs to be protected from people and not for people.) In its most coherent form, it argues that gay marriage erodes traditional gender roles, which are held in esteem. Usually, it consists of some vague notion of making marriage “less special.”

However, empirical evidence shows this argument is not just false but backwards. Massachusetts, the only state to allow gay marriage, also perennially has the lowest divorce rate. Connecticut, which recently voted to allow legally indistinguishable civil unions, is often second. I do not believe that gay marriage lowers divorce rates, but I do believe that people in societies that encourage loving relationships — all loving relationships — form more lasting relationships.

Rather than be infuriated by the question, “Is gay marriage moral?” I am delighted by it. It gives me the chance to answer: a resounding yes. True love, no matter whom it’s between, is moral.

Aaron Margolis is a senior in Berkeley College.