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Across California today, in mass public weddings and in small,
private services, gay and lesbian couples will exchange official
vows of undying love and wedlock. With the sanction of the state
Supreme Court, these couples stand together as full citizens at
last.
Across California today, in mass public weddings and in small, private services, gay and lesbian couples will exchange official vows of undying love and wedlock. With the sanction of the state Supreme Court, these couples stand together as full citizens at last.

Their long odyssey to reach this day serves to remind us why people marry at all, especially in an era of casual relationships. As any married person can attest, marriage is significant precisely because it is difficult. True, it confers certain public protections, but even more, it requires personal sacrifices. If mutual affection and appreciation were enough to sustain relationships across the years, there would be no need for solemn vows of fidelity. Those vows protect many a marriage through many a rough patch; when two people agree to enter into such a union, it by rights should carry the name and honor of marriage, whether it’s between people of opposite sex or between a man and a man, or a woman and a woman.

Opponents of same-sex marriage often deplore this expansion of the meaning of marriage because they view it as threatening to traditional unions. As they use this day as a rallying point for a proposed amendment to the state Constitution to ban such marriages, it’s time to ask them directly: How does marriage of one type threaten others? Why do many heterosexuals feel that the beauty of their own marriage vows is in no way changed by today’s weddings, while others feel theirs have somehow been diminished?

Perhaps the next few months will ease these fears, as same-sex couples begin their married lives together. Those couples will settle into communities without disorder or threat; they will bring legal protection to their bonds of love. Those bonds can only be good for society – children gain from being raised by married parents, and communities are stronger when residents are legally committed to one another. As more and more Californians marry, society will grow stronger, not weaker.

This editorial first appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.

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