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Exclusion stings

Editor’s note: This letter was addressed directly to Ryan Normandin. To view more commentary his July 6 column, “Gay marriage should not be made legal,” visit http://tech.mit.edu/V131/N29/normandin_cp.html.

I am in a long-term relationship with my partner of four years, and we’re registered domestic partners in California. I read your article and noted that you made some valid points. Since the government decided to get into the business of marriage hundreds of years ago, they realized it served their interest to incentivize procreation. Valid. Marriage has its regulated boundaries about marrying one’s first cousin, other relatives, etc. Also valid. However, the institution of marriage has been expanded before; it was illegal in many states to marry someone of another race until the 1970s. I think we’d all agree that society looked at that marriage restriction and realized that it was no longer appropriate or in line with America’s vision of equality, regardless of the government’s interest or secondary gain in the matter.

There are arguments to never allow same-sex couples to access the institution of marriage. It seems to me that until you have a close friend or relative in your life who is in a same-sex relationship and wants to marry the person she or he loves, you likely will never be swayed. None of my arguments will sway you, I’m certain. Know that to hear “you can’t because you’re gay” stings in a way that is indescribable. I wonder if you might feel differently about gay marriage if you had to tell a best friend, a sister, a beloved uncle that simple and painful phrase.

We’re marginalized enough, trust me. I pay $200 extra in federal taxes a month to have my partner on my health insurance plan. Yet if I had married a man, I wouldn’t have to pay any tax to have him on my plan should he need health insurance. That is just the tip of the iceberg. To tell someone I’m gay is also an instant and dramatic loss of social status, as it is an abrupt change to go from being a member of the majority to the minority. It would mean the world to me actually have the dignity of saying that I, too, am married in the eyes of my country. I’m sure I’d feel the same way had I been born a heterosexual and fallen in love with an African-American man in Mississippi 40 years ago.

Jennifer Hopping Winn