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Marriage, children: For heterosexuals only?

Date published: 4/28/2013

Marriage, children: For heterosexuals only?

Having read Mary Walsh's op-ed on marriage, "Love forever: Till death do us part" [Viewpoints, April 14], I feel sorry for her son held captive in the backseat of her car as she drives her narrow-minded opinions around town. Her vision of marriage is a fairy-tale view of the world of relationships that in the story's end, from my professional experience, gets many couples into a lot of unnecessary and avoidable trouble. These fantasies about marriage eventually devolve into feelings of disillusionment and resentment. Often (just look at the divorce rate) they end up steering folks into ultimately miserable relationships and marriages. As one of my favorite cartoons in The New Yorker says, "Gay marriage? Haven't these people suffered enough?"

While Walsh is entitled to her belief system, let's be clear that her views do not reflect any factual or scientific rationale regarding the purpose, quality, and definition of marriage. If marriage's primary purpose is procreation, then why not deny it to those who decide not to have children, or those who are past the childbearing age, or to people who already have children and remarry? This would be as ridiculous and blatantly discriminatory as the basis of Walsh's views about one woman, one man marriage are.

The God argument, as Walsh uses it, is specious, and based on her own personal collection, or arsenal, of beliefs. Essentially she is proclaiming, "Drive my car, and drive it my way!" Marital love, relationship, personal commitment, spending a life together forever, and, yes, even having children, are not the sole province of heterosexuals. They are fundamental to being human. Yet Walsh suggests that only the passengers in her car--a car of privilege, heterosexism, and religious dogma--should be deigned fit to marry.

Many same-sex couples have long-term, enduring, and committed relationships. Many also have children. According to the American Psychological Association, "Beliefs that lesbian and gay adults are not fit parents likewise have no empirical foundation. Lesbian and heterosexual women have not been found to differ markedly either in their overall mental health or in their approaches to child-rearing."

My guess is that Walsh has no firsthand experience with same-sex couples--otherwise, she might be driving a convertible with the top down, offering her son a broader and healthier view. She is welcome to drive over for a visit to our house. My partner Byron and I will soon celebrate 30 years together, and our son is about to graduate college, magna cum laude. He is a happy, healthy, warm, loving human being. And, he drives his own car.

Don Chiappinelli


Mr. Chiappinelli is a licensed clinical social worker.