Letters To The Editor - Language does matter in legislation

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The U-B Jan. 20 took the editorial position that the word "marriage" should be stretched to include any "committed, long-term legal relationship."

Surely this editorial was composed and published in great haste, perhaps to meet a deadline. After all, the editor had just written, "Language does matter."

Yes, for a newspaper, language is everything. So, too, for legislation, language is everything. It's regrettable that a newspaper should appear so careless about legislation that so many care about so fiercely.

Yet, a "devil-may-care" nonchalance is the paper's tone: "Sure, some people are opposed on religious or moral grounds, but the majority of people take a live-and-let live approach" to what counts as a marriage. Who are the apathetic majority? Who are the caring minority?

Perhaps the paper is implicitly addressing the state's Catholic bishops. Their Jan. 19 statement, "Marriage and the Common Good," offered a newsworthy counterpoint just the day before: dioceseofspokane.org/news

Refreshingly, the statement doesn't mention same-sex attraction, says nothing negative about gays or lesbians and maintains an entirely affirmative tone.

Its key argument appeals to "reason and the experience of society" rather than religion: "Married couples who bring children into the world make particular sacrifices and take on unique risks and obligations for the good of society. For this reason the state has long understood that it has a compelling interest in recognizing and supporting these mothers and fathers through a distinct category of laws. Were the definition of marriage to change, there would be no special laws to support and recognize the irreplaceable contribution that these married couples make to society and to the common good by bringing to life the next generation."

This statement and the editorial are about the same length. They are worth reading side-by-side.

David H. Carey
Walla Walla

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