Gay marriage poses no threat to the institution
According to President Bush, "If courts create their own arbitrary definition of marriage as a mere legal contract, and cut marriage off from its cultural, religious and natural roots, then the meaning of marriage is lost and the institution is weakened" ("Bush backs constitutional amendment on marriage," July 11).
I thought marriage was when two people who love each other decide they want to spend the rest of their lives together and to express that love in the ultimate statement to the world.
I don't think that definition is at all arbitrary; it just recognizes that everyone is equal. And in an age where divorce is rampant and gays are barred from marriage (in most states), perhaps the religious right ought to consider that the institution is already weakened.
Instead, it clings to old ideals and intolerance and pretends it is gays trying to tear apart the sanctity of marriage. I think the "straights" are doing a pretty good job of it already.
Strengthen it, don't redefine it
It is troubling to hear the stories highlighted by the plaintiffs in the American Civil Liberties Union's lawsuit. No one should have to face being ostracized by society or its government bureaucracies. But let's not lay the blame at the feet of marriage ("The power vested," editorial, July 8).
For all of its faults, pitfalls and shortcomings, marriage is an institution. No one can deny that marriage and the family have been the cornerstone of society. Even before there was a United States, there was an institution of marriage - which provided a basis for that other institution called parenting.
The advent of same-sex marriage, civil or religious, has done nothing more than further trivialize and degrade an institution held in high esteem for centuries. Soon, no doubt, in Maryland, a marriage license will be on par with a fishing license.
Instead of redefining what marriage is, we should focus on strengthening what we know marriage to be, and pursue other legal remedies for those choosing to be in same-sex partnerships.
Stephen H. Riegger Sr.
Any form of family can instill values
Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has said, "Traditional marriage ... is the cornerstone of society" ("Lawsuit challenges state law barring same-sex marriage," July 8).
But here's the rub. As an institution, marriage has been evolving for centuries. Who works, for how long? Who cares for children? Who obeys?
It isn't marriage that makes the world go 'round, it's family - be it one with one mother and one father, only one parent or two of one gender and none of another, or maybe some collection of aunts and uncles and grandparents.
Family teaches values to children. Family is there for you when you fall. Family is the cornerstone.
What sort of arrogance is it that determines family shall be a mother and a father and that it shall only count if the state gives permission?
Senators finally heed intelligence failures
I find no surprises in the Senate Intelligence Committee's 450-page report on the intelligence used by the Bush administration to justify invading Iraq ("Report rebukes U.S. spy agencies," July 9).
Every one of the hundreds of thousands of us who participated in the many pre-invasion anti-war marches could see clearly that the administration was wrong about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and its links to the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
All the report tells me is that a few august U.S. senators have, Rip Van Winkle-like, awakened from their long sleep.
Herman M. Heyn
Cosby's words offer kids a better chance
As a person who worked mostly in poor, largely black neighborhoods for more than 10 years (as a door-to-door insurance salesman), I totally agree with Bill Cosby ("No lull seen in furor over Cosby remarks," July 11).
I saw welfare mothers trying to outdo their neighbors by buying more and more expensive sneakers and clothing for their children.
It is high time that a well-respected person such as Mr. Cosby speaks up to give black youths a better chance of succeeding.
Right-wing radio pushes polarization
Miles Benson's article "Intense polarity of views evident in the loss of civility" (July 11) cites various factors in the rise of partisan hostility among ordinary Americans, among them Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11, a documentary that achieves the difficult feat of being both amusing and infuriating (like much of American politics from our very beginnings).
What Mr. Benson forgets to mention are the years of relentless liberal-bashing by radio's right-wing media, stretching back to the Reagan era and castigating anybody to the left of Dwight Eisenhower.
Now that the left is getting a little of its own back with Mr. Moore's flick, the howls and whines of the poor, wounded neoconservatives rival the overpowering buzz of this summer's cicada invasion.
Ah, tsk, tsk ...
Life lessons learned from autistic child
Thanks to Tom Dunkel, The Sun and the usually private B. J. and Polly Surhoff for the wonderful story "Bringing Up Mason" (July 4). What a great job sharing the rewards and challenges - yes, I said rewards - of parenting a child with autism.
As the father of my own 12-year-old son with autism, whom I also often characterize as being "wired differently," I could appreciate all of the anecdotes about Mason Surhoff that made me think of my son, and smile.
Like Mason, my son has a unique way of describing a beautiful sunset: a "sun rainbow." My son also reminds me daily of an overseas trip promised when he turns 21, not to the African Serengeti but to London.
My son is exceedingly polite, but like Mason sometimes is inclined to inappropriately verbalize thoughts, for example, about the size of a patron entering a store or restaurant: "Look at the big, fat ... "
His older sisters usually tackle him, cover his mouth and gently wrestle him out of the establishment, all of us struggling to control our laughter, so we can address the impolite comment.
Yes, parenting a child with autism provides the reward of putting life in perspective and access to daily life lessons that would otherwise be unavailable.