The Iraqi quagmire, prisoner abuse, nuclear proliferation, global warming, Aids epidemics, soaring deficits, health care crisis, unfunded mandates, too many children left behind. A small sample of the daunting issues facing federal and state governments and their elected leaders.

Hard to understand why so much time and energy is being expended by these same officials to deprive committed individuals of their right to sanctify and legalize their relationships. The institutions of marriage and family have been under severe pressure, witnessed by the staggering divorce rate (nearly 40%), increase in spousal abuse, juvenile crime and delinquency and broken homes. It could be argued that happily married couples and well adjusted families are in the minority.

Notwithstanding the collective pique of the evangelical right and its spokesmen – G.W. Bush, Rush Limbaugh, Tom DeLay, Bill Bennett, John Ashcroft, Pat Robertson, Billy Graham and the like, nearly 10% of the world’s population is homosexual, not suffering from a curable disease, not morally reprehensible, but simply preferring intimate contact with members of their own sex.

No amount of repression, restrictions, discrimination or persecution will change this. If the percentages hold true, there are over a million gay men and women serving in militaries around the world, not to mention driving trucks, teaching school, playing football, flying planes and preaching sermons. It is very difficult to see why a heterosexual sniper should be any better shot than his gay counterpart.

A childless heterosexual marriage is sacred, a homosexual union with children is not. The marriage of a sadomasochistic pervert to a dominatrix is sacred. A union between missionaries of the same sex is not. The marriage of an adultress promiscuous heterosexual couple who stay together is sacred. The union of a monogamous homosexual couple is not. How in God’s name does the marriage of two committed men or women endanger the institution and why should good citizens be denied basic rights because of their sexual orientation?

Even more astounding, the compassionate conservative President of the United States in the wake of the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision to allow gay marriages, promotes a constitutional amendment for the first time in our history to deny American citizens rights and privileges accorded to other citizens because of their sexual orientation.

Grow up in New England in the 50’s a mixed marriage, virtually unheard of, was an abomination and in the south at the same time a hanging offense, notwithstanding the fact that Strom Thurman was fathering a child with a black woman. Protestants dating Catholics was frowned upon. The Vatican forbade church weddings and refused to marry a Catholic and a divorced man or woman. Christians just couldn’t marry Jews.

Fifty years later the Catholic Church continues to forbid male priests to have sex, marry or masturbate – creating the world’s largest number of sexually repressed pedophiles who in turn denounce homosexuality as a mortal sin, and want to deny communion to any Catholic who is pro-choice. As fewer and fewer Catholic couples breed like rabbits, it stands to reason that many, if not most, practice birth control, also a mortal sin. If communion were denied every Catholic guilty of taking precautions, there would be a world-wide glut of wafers and wine.

Marriage is the ultimate commitment as it envisions forever. Committed couples, marrying, strengthen the fabric of our society, whether they be of mixed race, different religions or of the same sex. Abusive relationship, married couples who cheat on their vows, neglect their children or tend to claim some unique God-given prerogative because of the path they chose to achieve orgasm is at odds with our undeniable rights as Americans to pursue happiness.

Those God-fearing bigots who hung black men for looking at a white woman, supported felony convictions for those who engaged in oral sex and selected Charlton Heston to lead the NRA, continue to have, for some inexplicable reason, the support of our president and most of his core constituents. This commitment seems to be far more repugnant and damaging than two committed men or women seeking to spend their lives together as a married couple. No harm, no foul.