As a mother and president of a national organization of parents, I asked Barbara Bush to express her support for some basic principles of fairness and family love. It is ironic that her warm and generous reply has become a target of political attack.

In her letter to me, Mrs. Bush wrote that "we cannot tolerate discrimination against any individuals or groups in our country." Now, according to your columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak {"Bush and the Gay Lobby," op-ed, May 25}, this simple commitment to fair play has caused some Republican leaders -- because I wrote on behalf of parents of gay children -- to fear a political reaction from the religious right.

If these partisan concerns are justified, the religious right plainly has something to learn from the First Lady about basic family values of love and acceptance.

I wrote to Mrs. Bush as one mother to another, asking her to "speak kind words to some 24 million gay Americans and their families, to help heal wounds and to keep those families in loving relationships." She graciously replied, as noted by Evans and Novak, that she "appreciated so much . . . your encouraging me to help change attitudes."

The columnists are therefore misinformed when they describe me as "a representative of the gay lobby" and as a "gay-lobby activist." I am simply the mother of two wonderful children, one of whom happens to be gay, and a volunteer in an organization dedicated to keeping families together.

It was in those roles that I wrote Mrs. Bush, and she responded in a caring and nonpolitical vein. She apparently realizes that it is society's discrimination against our kids -- and not their innate sexual orientation -- that truly threatens family structures.

We have all grown up with many myths and misconceptions about homosexuality. But, as I wrote Mrs. Bush, we who have lifted the veil of ignorance know that our gay and lesbian children are fine, responsible, contributing members of our communities. They deserve our love and support -- as well as the respect and full human and civil rights -- accorded other citizens.

I have looked up to Mrs. Bush as a loving and compassionate mother, and as a powerful, genuine and refreshingly open role model. Her response has validated my instincts in this regard. If it is true that the religious right is offended by her declaration of fair play, I can only conclude that their reaction in this instance is anti-family.

-- Paulette Goodman The writer is president of the Federation of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Inc.