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by Abigail Van Buren

Committed Gay Couples Don't Have the Choice of Marriage

DEAR ABBY: A mother wrote asking if it was wrong to insist her gay son visit her without his partner because she did not support his lifestyle. You compared her son's lifestyle to being married with a spouse.

Sorry! This man and his partner are NOT married.

Before I was married, my husband and I did not sleep together at my parents' home. My parents were not naive, but they did not want unmarried people sharing a bedroom in their home. -- FEELS THE SAME IN WASHINGTON

DEAR FEELS THE SAME: From that, I infer you and your husband are now welcome to share accommodations in your parents' home because you are married. Until unions among committed gay couples are formally recognized, the son and his partner are as close as they can get to being "married." To discriminate against people for something they're not legally permitted is wrong. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Thank you for saying that people are born gay and don't choose to be that way. As the mother of a gay child, I know it's true. It's frustrating to continually hear that my child should be "deprogrammed" to be heterosexual or that somehow being gay was a personal choice. Nothing could be further from the truth. -- SHARON IN LEXINGTON, KY.

DEAR SHARON: Over the decades during which my mother wrote this column, she never once told me she had received a letter from -- or encountered -- anyone who told her he or she had "chosen" to be a homosexual. During the many years that I worked with my mother, neither did I. As an honorary consultant to the Group for Advancement of Psychiatry, I once asked this question at a meeting, "Is homosexuality a choice?" Not one physician said a patient had related that his or her sexual orientation was chosen. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Thanks for plugging PFLAG. Hopefully, that mother will learn she didn't lose a son; she just lost precious time with him she can never reclaim.

As the sibling of a gay person, I'm bewildered that people think someone would "choose a lifestyle" that is reviled, assaulted, denied civil rights and otherwise abused by the rest of the population. -- BOB IN ST. PETERSBURG, FLA.

DEAR BOB: You make a valid point. What I find particularly worrisome is that gay teenagers are among those at highest risk for alcoholism, drug abuse and suicide because of discrimination at a time when they are most vulnerable.

DEAR ABBY: That mother should be happy her son is honest about his gay orientation. My husband isn't. When I find him sending nude photos back and forth to guys from gay chat rooms, he lies and says he's only "curious." He also claims he's just chatting online -- and then I find he is meeting them. I ask, "Are you having safe sex?" and can't get an answer because he won't admit he's having sex.

He lies to himself, Abby, which makes it easy to lie to me, his family and his macho friends. I'm trying to find counseling for both of us and the marriage, but funds are limited. My husband refuses to admit there's a problem! -- ALONE AND ANGRY IN CINCINNATI

DEAR ALONE: Go to your computer and type in: � HYPERLINK "http://www.ssnetwk.org" ��www.ssnetwk.org�. It's the site of the Straight Spouse Network. You'll find it provides a bonanza of information, including peer support, a reading list and the locations of support groups worldwide. (A new one has just been started in Cincinnati!) You may be justifiably angry, but you are NOT alone in this problem, as you will soon discover. I wish you the best of luck.

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