From Crain's New York Businesses' Columnist Alair Townsend's commentary, "Defy the haters; pass gay marriage" (subscription)
A family functioning at its best provides financial support, planning for the future, care for its sick members, and a nourishing and sustaining envelope of love.
These are basic things we all seek. Yet we [in New York] and most of the country deny a sizable minority of our neighbors these basics because some find the idea of same-sex partnerships abhorrent and fear that recognizing them legally will somehow affect their own relationships.
I understand that some religions consider gay relationships unnatural and that adherents of those faiths object strenuously to formalizing the unions. But as [New York] Gov. [David] Paterson pointedly reminded us, this is a civil government. Government cannot and should not compel any church to perform rites it deems immoral. Government can, however, provide the legal framework for the unions.
What I cannot understand is the fear that legalizing same-sex partnerships will cheapen or degrade heterosexual unions, undermine parents' ability to impart their values to their children, or open the door for the abuse of children of same-sex couples. The national television advertising campaign by the National Organization for Marriage plays directly on such concerns, and it is disheartening and disquieting to watch.
Slowly—but, I believe, surely—gay marriage will find acceptance across the country.
A number of states have legalized civil unions, offering the protections of marriage to varying degrees, but all denying the dignity and solemnity of marriage bonds. One day, Congress will overturn the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, which withholds at least 1,138 rights and protections offered by the federal government to married heterosexuals. But today, our [i.e., New York's] state Legislature should cast off unreasoning fear, and act to protect the rights of an important minority group.