Question: I have some apartments for rent and received a call from a young woman with a baby crying in the background. She had her boyfriend and baby (I don't know if the child was his) and wanted to rent my place.

I told her she should consider moving in with her family or marry the boyfriend. I told her that it sounds like an unstable situation and that as a landlord, I would not risk a broken lease since there are no marriage vows to cement the relationship. I told her that I could not imagine why she would risk having a baby with only a lease as a commitment. She was dumbfounded. What do you think of this situation?- Aspen, Colo.

Dr. Laura: What worries me is whether that young woman might try to sue on some basis of discrimination. I've never understood why shack-up situations (where the people have a choice in marrying and where their behavior does make other commitments less predictable and trustworthy) are sometimes grouped with issues of race (where people have no choice and skin color does not predict any stereotyped behavior). They are just not in the same category! This is just one of many efforts to undermine the basic foundation of a civilized, functional society: the family.

Question: I just read that Rep. Frank Riggs, R-Calif., was the sponsor of a bill that passed the House of Representatives calling for the elimination of domestic partnership benefits. What is your sense of this? Will it pass the Senate?

- Los Angeles, Calif.

Dr. Laura: I am wholly in support of his bill and his rationale. Rep. Riggs was quoted as saying, "It is wrong to elevate a domestic relationship, whether heterosexual or homosexual, to the same status as the sacred union, marriage, between a man and a woman."

Unfortunately, it will probably fail because of politics. What amuses me is the accusation of the gay and lesbian advocacy groups that those opposed to domestic partnership and marriage between homosexuals, are "forcing their morality on others."

In San Francisco, organizations such as Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army were pressured by the city to offer domestic partner benefits to their employees, although the policy is clearly contrary to their religious values. If this isn't forcing moral values on others, I don't know what is.

The truth is that all laws designate a morality: right and wrong. I have always been sensitive and compassionate to gay and lesbian callers and patients in the almost 25 years of my career, first as a therapist, and then as a talk-show host. Nonetheless, I believe that the steady erosion of oft-denigrated "family values" has resulted in a disaster for our children and society.

Never before have we had so many children in broken or never-made homes; children into drugs, violence and sex; children killing themselves and others; children raised by institutions instead of by parents; children killing their own infants; children being molested by mom's many boyfriends; children not doing well academically and children lost emotionally.

You have to be in serious denial not to see the connection between these maladies and the undermining of what structure best supports the raising of children.

On my program, for example, I've seen terrible trends of people getting married, having children and then deciding they are gay and abandoning their obligations, or women becoming single mothers by choice or having a stupid hopefulness that the guy in the situation will marry them. Now these so-called alternatives are deemed "acceptable" and children are not protected by public opinion, much less personal morality.

When words like "family values," "commitment," "morality" and "religion" become denigrated, and people protecting these concepts are condemned as phobic and hate-filled, the society is doomed.