Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

We don't much care that President Obama has publicly expressed his support for gay marriage. Or that Mitt Romney has publicly denounced it.

Our response to Obama's announcement last week is tepid because the issue of gay marriage, though a contentious social issue and one worthy of respectful debate, is neither vital to the nation's future nor a matter under Obama's (or Romney's) bailiwick.

Whether same-sex couples can legally marry is a question rightfully reserved for the voters in each state.

The president's endorsement, and Romney's response, fueled a predictable, emotional response and created a fundraising opportunity for both candidates.

We hope, though, that the polarizing issue of gay marriage does not divert attention from more pressing matters - the sluggish economy foremost among them - that should dominate the debate as the campaign plods on toward Election Day, Nov. 6.

We'd prefer Obama and Romney focus on explaining what they intend to do to revive the economy.

That said, we agree with the president on gay marriage, and we're perplexed as to why some opponents believe the practice poses a dire threat to the sanctity of marriage as an institution.

As a religious institution, marriage is based on fundamental concepts such as love, respect and fidelity.

Based on those standards, the real besmirching of marriage comes from such things as domestic violence and adultery, neither of which, sadly, is rare in heterosexual marriages.

By contrast, the idea that two men or two women who love each other would want to formalize their relationship hardly seems likely to undermine society.