Gay Rights Go to Court

I am gay and have been a big fan of reason for many years, so I was disappointed to see Cathy Young spend two pages on a discussion of "gay rights" ("Gay Rights Go to Court," June). Since when do groups have "rights"? Only individuals have rights. Anti-sodomy laws violate the rights of individuals in serious and fundamental ways. But when did a marriage license become a basic human right for anyone?

A marriage license documents the state's sanction of a romantic and sexual relationship between two people. That sanction, in turn, subjects the terms and conditions of that relationship and the rights and responsibilities of its participants to legislation and regulation prescribed by the state. I despair that so many gay people miss the point that the state's refusal to grant them a marriage license is an exemption from the intrusion of that state into their personal lives.

Nothing in the law prevents gay couples from owning property jointly, creating enforceable partnership agreements, powers of attorney, medical proxies, or any number of other legally binding agreements that define and document the nature of the relationship. We should follow the example of the thousands of practicing polygamous families who, rather than lobbying for polygamist "rights," simply live their lives in peace, love, and innocence -- happy to be excluded from the repressive mainstream.

John H. Northrup
Littleton, CO


I've just finished reading Jacob Sullum's "H: The Surprising Truth About Heroin and Addiction" (June) and am not at all impressed. I find it interesting that while Sullum quotes a sociologist who wrote that "narcotic addicts tend to 'mature out' of the habit in their 30s," every example of a "successful addict" (save one) in the article was 40 or older. How did he come to that conclusion? If he surmised that people in their 30s stopped using heroin because of a lack of criminal or corrections-related activity, he overlooked the possibility that many of them moved or died.

As a law enforcement officer who has seen firsthand the tragic results of heroin addiction, I can tell you that they are that bad, and that frequent. The fact that heroin kills is incontrovertible. Any attempt to minimize this fact, or to try to legalize or normalize or rationalize its use, demonstrates a profound irresponsibility, a profound stupidity, or perhaps both.

Stephen K. Hancox
Flemington, NJ

Thank you for the article. In the 19th century, heroin was considered a "gentle painkiller." Anyone who has enough physical pain to justify morphine use might just as well use heroin. If heroin were legalized, the drug companies that produce morphine would have to compete with low -cost overseas producers of heroin, to the benefit of the consumer. Heroin was actually used to help people get off morphine addiction, as it was considered the less addictive of the two. There is no logical basis for its demonization.

Kirk Gray
Los Angeles

What tripe! I held my dying sister in my arms on the way to the hospital after she overdosed on this "harmless" drug. She had already vomited frothy, blood-specked foam, lost control of her bowels and bladder all over me, convulsed, and died before we could get her to the hospital. I think the New York Times story referenced in the article was fiction, as many of their articles have proven to be, and I think it is very harmful in justifying a filthy, deadly habit.

As my sister yielded more and more of her once beautiful self to this addiction, I tried to help her by intervention, forcing her to go into drug treatment, only to see her time and again sink back into her addiction. Tell the two children my sister left behind that heroin is just a harmless thing.

J. Turner
New Orleans, LA

I just finished reading Jacob Sullum's article; he is partially right and partially wrong.

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