Try as I might — and I really have tried because I've wanted to see this issue from the other side — I just don't understand how anyone's marriage, much less a same-sex one, threatens anyone else's marriage, anyone else's way of life, anyone else's family, or anyone else's religion.

And let's get one thing out of the way: Same-sex couples are not trying to force religious faiths to make the sacrament of marriage available to them. They are petitioning the government to recognize the validity of same-sex unions and accord them the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples. That's it. That recognition doesn't come with the right to have the union recognized in or by any religious faith; if your church is marrying same-sex couples, and you don't like that, take it up with them, not the state.

We live in a time when more than half of all so-called traditional marriages end in divorce, where millions of children live in single-parent homes, or shuttle between custodial parents. This is a country where non-custodial parents fail on a regular basis to provide for the support of the children they brought into the world within traditional marriages.

And speaking of children, if opponents of same-sex marriage want to make the argument that traditional marriage is all about the children and family, they need to open a new branch of opposition because there are a lot of people getting married today who are either too old to have children or have chosen not to have them. Hey, it might even dovetail nicely with the opposition to abortion — you know, "unless you have that child, we're going to invalidate your marriage." Sounds far-fetched, but I can almost see the wheels turning in some people's heads. Pretty sure Todd Akin would love it.

Perhaps those who are devoting so much time, energy and money fighting against the right of same-sex couples to have legally-recognized unions would be better served by spending more time and energy on their own marriages, their own families, their own lives; they might end up better people for it, and might even recognize that the real threats to marriage do not come from other people's marriages.

So, it's pretty much come down to this for me — and I say this as a woman married to a man for 32 years, with whom I have two children — if you don't believe in same-sex relationships or unions or marriages, don't have one. Yes, it really is that simple. If you're a person of faith, maybe it's time you trusted your deity of choice enough to leave it in His hands. And whether you are or you aren't, you might want to consider that some day, it could be your basic rights and privileges that come up for a vote by people who don't see things as you do. And before you tell me the issue of same-sex unions is different, I'd like to be on the record as saying, "no, it's really not."

Anne G. Schoonmaker, Sparks