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OT: 'Dear Abby' Says She's for Gay Marriage

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    Dear Abby Says She s for Gay Marriage By LISA LEFF – 17 hours ago SAN FRANCISCO (AP) ­ For years, rumblings have surfaced on the Internet, conjecture
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 10, 2007
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      'Dear Abby' Says She's for Gay Marriage

      By LISA LEFF – 17 hours ago

      SAN FRANCISCO (AP) ­ For years, rumblings have
      surfaced on the Internet, conjecture about her
      casual references to "sexual orientation" and
      "respect." Now, Dear Abby is ready to say it
      flatly: She supports same-sex marriage.

      "I believe if two people want to commit to each
      other, God bless 'em," the syndicated advice
      columnist told The Associated Press. "That is the
      highest form of commitment, for heaven's sake."

      What Jeanne Phillips, aka Abigail Van Buren,
      finds offensive and misguided are homophobic
      jokes, phrases like "That's so gay," and parents
      who reject or try to reform their children when they come out of the closet.

      Her views are the reason she's being honored this
      week by Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays,
      a national advocacy group that provides support
      for gay people and their families. The original
      Abby, Phillips' 89-year-old mother, Pauline,
      helped put PFLAG on the map in 1984 when she
      first referred a distraught parent to the organization.

      Jeanne Phillips, who formally took over the
      column when her mother was diagnosed with
      Alzheimer's disease five years ago, has continued
      plugging the group, as well as its affiliate for
      parents with children who identify as
      transgender, and a suicide hot line aimed at gay teenagers.

      "I'm trying to tell kids if they are gay, it's OK
      to be gay. I've tried to tell families if they
      have a gay family member to accept them and love
      them as they always have," she said Friday.

      PFLAG director Jody Huckaby said Abby is the
      perfect choice for the first "Straight for
      Equality" award, part of the group's new campaign
      to engage more heterosexuals as allies.

      "She is such a mainstream voice," Huckaby said.
      "If Dear Abby is talking about it, it gives other
      people permission to talk about it."

      Alert "Dear Abby" readers may have noticed that
      the youthful attitude Phillips promised to bring
      to the column includes a decidedly gay-friendly take on most matters.

      In a March 2005 column that touched a nerve with
      some readers, for instance, Phillips came down
      unequivocally on the side of scientists who say
      sexual orientation is a matter of genetics, not
      personal choice. She advised a mother who had
      cautioned her 14-year-old daughter to keep her
      feelings for other girls secret to "come to terms
      with your own feelings about homosexuality."

      Last year, addressing a groom whose gay brother
      refused to serve as best man or even attend the
      wedding because he did not have the right to
      marry, she made it clear her sympathies lay with the boycotting brother.

      "Accepting the status quo is not always the best
      thing to do," she wrote. "Women were once
      considered chattel, and slavery was regarded as
      sanctioned in the Bible. However, western society
      grew to recognize that neither was just. Canada,
      Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain have
      recognized gay marriage, and one day, perhaps, our country will, too."

      Phillips, who lives in Los Angeles, said she
      isn't worried that aligning herself with gay
      rights advocates will cause newspapers to censor
      or cancel the column, which appears in about 1,400 newspapers.

      Her outspokenness on gay rights issues has never
      caused a strong backlash, said Kathie Kerr, a
      spokeswoman for Universal Press Syndicate, which
      distributes the column. It's possible some
      editors choose not to run the segments dealing
      with homosexuality, but if so they have not
      complained to the syndicate, Kerr said.

      "We get brouhahas all the time, and they haven't
      been about Dear Abby," Kerr said.

      Phillips realizes not everyone agrees with her on
      gay rights; she and her husband "argue about this
      continually," she said. He thinks civil unions
      and domestic partnerships "would be less
      threatening to people who feel marriage is just a
      religious rite." She thinks anything less than
      full marriage amounts to second-class citizenship.

      "If gay Americans are not allowed to get married
      and have all the benefits that American citizens
      are entitled to by the Bill of Rights, they
      should get one hell of a tax break. That is my
      opinion," said Phillips, who speaks with the
      no-nonsense tone of someone who is used to settling debates.

      Right now, Abby, as Phillips prefers to be
      called, is working on a reply to a woman who
      wanted to know whether she should include
      childhood photographs of her transgender
      brother-in-law in a family album. The woman is
      worried what she will tell her children when they
      see pictures of their uncle as a little girl.

      Phillips' guidance to Worried Reader will be
      simple, she said: Include the photos, of course.
      Silence is the enemy. Answer any questions the
      kids have honestly ­ Uncle John was born with a
      body of the wrong sex, so even when he was called
      Jane he was really John inside.

      Phillips said that while it might be tempting to
      devote an entire column to why she thinks jokes
      invoking homosexual slurs are in poor taste, she
      does not plan to spell out her views on gay
      marriage in print any more directly than she has already.

      "If they are my readers, they know how I feel on
      the subject," she said. "I don't think I'm a
      flaming radical. I'm for civility in life. I'm
      for treating each other with respect, trying to do the best you can."

      Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press.

      http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iLasfA2JW5S-lvsKnqYcb9_81_FQD8S60KT00

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