George Thompson's request in Florida Today for letters either favoring or deploring same-sex marriages will undoubtedly be answered by numerous respondents. As a lifetime heterosexual, married to one woman for nearly forty years, and the father of three grown, wonderful children, my immediate, visceral response was against.

However, I took the time to do a little research about the matter and found some unexpected and intellectually provoking information. My original premise was all so-called advantages accruing from marriage were sensible and justifiable. As I understood it, they were based on the need of any civilization to ensure its children were brought up healthy, educated, and able to function effectively when they became adults. The concept made sense, and I am aware of the costs to provide food, shelter, clothing, and to educate a couple's offspring through high school and, as we were able to do, college.

It seems to me that same-sex couples should not be entitled to the few financial benefits the government offers to offset a portion of those child-rearing expenses. But I have to consider the fact that lesbian couples certainly could raise a child one female conceived through artificial insemination or prior sexual intercourse. Certainly, millions of divorced or never married women are forced to raise children without benefit of fathers, many of them with either marginal or no financial assistance from the biological male parent. Shouldn't lesbian couples raising children also qualify for marriage benefits?

But the most startling information I found was that medical studies conducted by Dr. Robert Moore of the famed Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and funded by the University of Minnesota, offer the promise of male pregnancy carried to term and caesarian birth. The simple procedure looks promising for male animals, and there is no reason it might not also work for men. Clinical aspects of the procedure appear to require nothing more than standard in-vitro placement of a test-tube fertilized egg(donated with the consent of a healthy woman) into the prostate gland of a male animal. Surrounded by blood enriched tissue, the fetus grows normally until it is taken by section at full term. Since there are no birth signals from labor pains, the attending physician has to carefully observe the gestation period.

If this experimental technique can be demonstrated to work in the human male, society may sometime be faced with gay "marriages" whose members decide to bear and raise children carried to term by one of the men. Under those conditions, it seems only logical and fair to extend to gay relationships the same legal and financial protection now given to heterosexual marriages.

I find it hard to justify extending the protective shelters afforded by a marriage contract in circumstances other than the ones I mentioned: two lesbians raising a child or children together in a home environment, and the hypothetical case of two gay men raising a child one of them bore.

One final factor deserves consideration. It is possible the graying of America could provide a special rationale for offering the marriage contract to same-sex couples, that of old age. The topic would be touchy for most people, but an arbitrary age of 62 or 65 could be selected for both parties, to correlate with social security benefits. Old age can be difficult, and lonely old age must be worse. Nothing more than compassion would be involved in permitting same sex-marriages of the elderly. It could even be argued that government's costs of care for the aged would be reduced .

Sam Orr                                 
World Traveler
and Philanthrope
(Location Unknown)