"Dear Abby" chastises couple for shunning gay neighbors

Author Jeanne Phillips, the daughter of the original advice columnist Dear Abby poses for a photo at a hotel in Century City in Los Angeles, Friday, Oct. 5, 2007. Dear Abby is publicly declaring her support for same-sex marriage next week in Washington, D.C. She has hinted at this in past columns, but plans to step it up in the future. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes) Damian Dovarganes, AP

A letter about a couple unhappy with their gay neighbors in Tampa got little sympathy from "Dear Abby" in a column published on Wednesday.

"Gay people don't choose to be gay; they are born that way," Jeanne Phillips, the current author of the syndicated advice column, wrote. "They can't change being gay any more than you can change being heterosexual."

In the letter from "Unhappy in Tampa," a woman complains of being excluded from neighborhood gatherings over her refusal to extend an invitation to two gay couples.

"While they are nice enough, my husband and I did not include them when it was our turn to host because we do not approve of their lifestyle choices," the letter read. "Since then, we have been excluded from neighborhood gatherings, and someone even suggested that we are bigots!"

The letter, which has sparked interest on social media sites, says "Unhappy in Tampa" and her husband were welcomed quickly by their neighbors after moving to Florida from a conservative community, but did not think they should compromise their values to win their neighbors' approval.

"But really, who is the true bigot here?" it asked. "Would you like to weigh in?"

Phillips, who under the pen name Abigail Van Buren took over the original column from her mother, responded that the couple would apparently be happier in a neighborhood surrounded by people who thought the way that they did.

"But if you interact only with people like yourselves, you will have missed a chance for growth, which is what you have been offered here," concluded Phillips, who in 2007 announced that she supported gay marriage. "Please don't blow it."


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