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Volume 69, Issue 94, Thursday, February 19, 2004

Opinion
 

Gays should enjoy 'union' benefits

By Stuart H. Clements

There's an old adage -- there are two ways to make enemies at a party: talk about religion or talk about politics.

President Bush made a lot of enemies, unassisted by booze despite Sen. Ted Kennedy's presence at the 2004 State of the Union, by combining religion and politics.

Bush is way off base claiming that it is the duty of the federal government to protect the integrity of marriage by barring same sex couples of the sacrament. Marriage, effectively, serves two purposes.

First, marriage is an affirmation before God of the commitment made between two people. Second, the marriage license is a legal document that enables married couples to enjoy the legal benefits that come with the union. For example, married couples are given tax incentives and employers who provide health insurance are required to extend the coverage to employees' spouses and families.

No government has any business regulating the former role. This is an issue between committed couples, the church and God. Government does have and should have regulation over the issuance of a legal document such as a marriage license. However, I do not approve of Bush and Congress denying committed same-sex couples a document that can bring such benefit and aid as a marriage license does.

The problem, as always, is semantics. If it is too much to handle homosexuals getting "married," then invent a new, equivalent document. Call it a "committed couple license."

Leave the issue of marriage for the church to fight with its parishioners. The real issue is protecting civil liberties.

The 14th amendment of the Constitution stipulates, "No state shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." Such legislation was spawned after much spilled blood colored the ground of the nation, and it sickens me that even the politicians continue to discriminate against categories of the population.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom understands this, and as a response has turned heads by legalizing same-sex marriages in San Francisco. He is not the only sane person left in office -- he's just the most proactive. 

President Bush would do well to keep his nose out of the bedroom, a place where government should never go. The bottom line is gay people have families too, and benefits should be extended to include them.

Clements, a columnist for The Daily Cougar, 
can be reached via dccampus@mail.uh.edu.

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