I had to read Donna Britt's Nov. 5 Metro column, "Gay Unions Put Kerry Campaign Asunder," several times before I could pinpoint why it had such a disturbing effect on me. While Britt takes great pains to burnish her own credentials of tolerance, she effectively reduces gay relationships -- and people's reaction to them -- as a question solely of "moral values" and bemoans the unfortunate timing that this pesky and apparently frivolous issue had on John Kerry's presidential aspirations.

To add insult to injury, she goes on to equate a loving relationship between gay partners with obscenities aired on public radio by shock jocks or Janet Jackson's publicity stunt. When she saw the images of gay partners joyfully getting married in California and Massachusetts, her first thought was, "This is awful for the Kerry campaign." It seems that Britt views the fight for economic equality and the recognition that comes by making marriage available to gay couples as just too inconvenient. By casting in this way an issue that for many is a real question of equal rights, Britt cedes ground to those who depicted the issue as one of "moral values" and successfully manipulated it to political ends.

Britt, in pleading with both sides to understand each other, goes on to suggest that each side must acknowledge its flaws. Yet she fails to recognize that on some issues of fundamental importance, compromise is not the right path. I can only hope she is not suggesting that the Democratic Party should abandon its support of equal rights -- including equal rights for gay couples -- in an effort to get along better. Would she make the same argument if we were talking about civil rights? And, at what point do we lay the blame at the doorstep where it belongs?

-- Amy Fraenkel

Takoma Park

*

Just like tens of millions of Americans, I am in mourning after the election. But unlike countless others, I am having to deal with being blamed for John Kerry's defeat on top of it.

Donna Britt says that gay men and women, because of their "in-your-face exuberance," are to blame for Kerry's loss.

What?

Are we supposed to hide in our homes and shelter ourselves from our apparently fragile neighbors?

Are we supposed to deny that we are anything more than roommates or just close friends?

Are we not allowed to be exuberant, Donna Britt?

I apologize for being emotional, and I do respect Britt's honesty, but I cannot continue to ignore the deep hurt caused by these attacks. It is hard enough being blamed for all of the wrongs of modern-day society, but being blamed for this election is a step too far.

I am a gay man. I have been in a loving, committed relationship for 10 years. I want nothing more than to spend the rest of my life with my spouse. I am sorry this makes people uncomfortable, but we are not to blame for Kerry's defeat. We did not thrust ourselves and our relationships on the American populace. We have simply been living our lives. In contrast, Karl Rove and the Republican Party have been using our lives and our relationships for their political advantage. We are not to blame. Rove and George Bush are.

-- Max Forrest

Washington