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To the editor: I wish to take issue with your Feb. 10 editorial, "Partner Mandate Still a Bad Idea."

The basis of your argument seems to be that governments have no right to force social issues to the forefront. I wonder how many African-Americans would agree with your position?

Our country's history has clearly shown that social issues are often addressed only when a few brave souls are willing to take a stand and force our legal and judicial systems to right a social wrong. Would we be able to live today with a policy that said Jewish married couples are not entitled to the same benefits as those of any other race or creed? Yet there was a time in history when such prejudice and differences in laws were accepted.

There are still those out there who insist gays and lesbians do not deserve "special rights." I wholeheartedly agree. What we do deserve are "basic rights." I would gladly give up any request for "special rights" if our government would only give us the opportunity to make a conscientious decision to "legalize" our relationship.

I have more problems with heterosexual couples who want the same rights as "married couples." Why should they? They have made a conscientious decision to not legalize their relationship. I have no problem with there being consequences to that decision. I only wish I could make that same conscientious decision. Until then, I have no problem whatsoever with forward-thinking governmental bodies forcing the issue on my behalf.

Richard L. Smith


Editor's note: The Feb. 10 editorial, which opposed a proposed New York City mandate for city contractors to offer domestic partner benefits, expressed Business Insurance's view that each employer must be free to determine which benefits best meet the needs of the company's employees.