Same-sex marriage is an equal rights matter

In Mike Westfall’s April 26, 2013 letter, he contends, “Those who choose to practice homosexuality cover their political agenda with the false banner of human rights, but they have the same rights as everyone else.”

Does Mr. Westfall recall when he chose to “practice” heterosexuality? The gender one is attracted to isn’t an option you elect to exercise, like selecting an entree from a menu. Sexual orientation isn’t a choice, but an innate dictate; and same-sex intimacy is not exclusive to humans-it’s been well-documented by natural scientists across the spectrum of vertebrates – nor is it a recent addition to the variables of the human condition.

Westfall’s second claim, that gay citizens “have the same rights as everyone else,” is patently false – presently, in most states, “they” can’t marry the love of their life. Religious institutions will always be free to determine who they will join in marriage in accordance with their doctrines; legalizing marriage between any two consenting adults wouldn’t jeopardize that right. Westfall fails to differentiate between the secular social union and the one defined by the religious denomination of his choice. The secular laws of marriage afford legal standing to make medical decisions for one’s mate, inherit property and hold legal status as next-of-kin; hospital visitation rights; recognition as an equal parent to children born or adopted into the marriage; this is but a sampling of rights gay men and women are currently denied in the much of the U.S. The time has long passed that freedom to marry be made available to all consenting adults in this country, and recognized by all states and in all courts of law, regardless of the race, creed, or gender of the individuals that comprise the couple. It absolutely is an equal-rights matter – nothing more.

Phyllis Rayca