Letter to the Editor: Gay people have right to marry


Same-sex marriage has a new champion in Attorney General Mark Herring. He’s making his supporters proud!

Some of us fought the constitutional amendment adopted not long ago that made such marriages illegal in Virginia. Opposition to the measure was, for many, based upon the scientific finding that homosexual individuals are born that way. If that finding is accepted, the issue at hand is a matter of civil rights. It is, in principle, identical to the issue of whether people born black are entitled to the same rights as people born white. The answer to both is obvious — at least to many, and, if polls are to be believed, to most.

It is understandable why some resist recognizing same sex marriage. Ancient religious texts have passages that frown on it. For centuries, comparable passages were invoked in justification for slavery and, until very recently, segregation. Sexual orientation was once widely thought to be a matter of choice, and long established customs and mores give way reluctantly.

However, changing demographics such as the views of younger people, determinations of science, and the ringing phrases of freedom in the U.S. Constitution have resulted in change.

Whether by vote or court rulings, a rapidly growing list of states and the federal government show that gay people, like their straight neighbors, have the right to marry and enjoy families.

Virginia need not be, as it was in the disgrace ended by the Supreme Court in overturning its law forbidding blacks and whites to marry, a reluctant holdout in denying thousands of its people a basic civil (and human) right.

No one put it better than that hero in countless major legal battles on behalf of the Republican Party, attorney Theodore B. Olson:

“This is a great day for the commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia’s marriage laws are needlessly mean-spirited and cause harsh and gratuitous pain and humiliation to gay and lesbian Virginians and their families. Attorney General Herring’s actions have brought Virginia that much closer to the quintessential American ideals of equality under the law and the freedom to pursue happiness.”

Bob Lowerre, Woodstock