The AIDS Quilt
Shame on The Sun. Such a big event as the displaying of the AIDS quilt in its entirety for the first time since 1989 rated only a single photograph on page 3A of the Oct. 11 edition, showing a lone person strolling the panels.
No story, merely a small paragraph. And the facts weren't even right.
By contrast, the Washington Post carried a front page photo and article which spanned three pages and included two additional photographs.
Why does the AIDS quilt warrant more attention than The Sun has seen fit to give it? Do the names of 26,988 people who have died, and were to be read aloud during the display, mean anything?
Their response of love and caring from bereaved family and friends equates in size to 12 football fields (361,000 square feet) and includes 20,064 panels filled with photographs, momentos, tributes and intensely personal and loving messages commemorating those who died. It weighs 30 tons. And it grows daily, as new panels are added and new deaths occur. Historically, there hasn't been anything like it . . .
The quilt is twice as big as it was in 1989. Soon it is likely to be too big to be shown in its entirety, and will mean in the future it will be displayed in sections.
For those who've never seen it, it can be an emotional experience, even if you do not personally know someone with AIDS.
It is difficult not to grieve with those who so eloquently and plainly express their love for their children, women and men who
have died of this terrible disease.
Thomas L. Ditty III
I have never written a letter to the editor before, but I am compelled to write today to tell you that I found the picture on the front page of the Oct. 10 Sun, under the headline "Unfurling America's Quilt to AIDS," repulsive and foolish.
We might have expected, with a headline such as this, to see a picture of the quilt or maybe a couple mentioned who lost a son to AIDS. But instead, once again, the American media was more concerned with furthering a liberal agenda than accurately, credibly covering a news story.
We hear enough today about supposed "homophobia," the politically correct term for virtually anyone opposed to homosexuality. But we never hear anything said about homopropaganda or homopromotion such as this photo: Two homosexual men embracing under a shared umbrella, one short-haired and the other long-haired, just the model homosexual husband and wife.
We might gather from their somber expressions that their lifestyle has caused one or both of them to be infected by AIDS, or maybe they've recently lost friends or loved ones to this killer disease.
But who are you helping by showing such a photo with a story about the AIDS quilt? My understanding, at least from the AIDS activists' point of view, is that AIDS is not just a homosexual disease. I thought this was an AIDS quilt, not a homosexual quilt.
I find it regrettable that anyone who speaks out against %o homosexuality is viewed as "homophobic" or a hater of $l homosexuals. I neither fear nor hate homosexuals. I have friends that I know are involved in the homosexual perversion.
I am afraid of the HIV virus, however, and I must admit I hate homosexuality. I hate it even more now that I see what it is doing to those involved in it.
These people aren't dying because the government isn't pouring enough money into AIDS research; they're dying because they continued practicing a lifestyle they knew might kill them.
Using the same logic as some AIDS activists use, we should deal with the teen-age suicide problem by pouring billions of dollars into massive brain trauma research, so when teen-agers shoot themselves, we can somehow save their lives.
Obviously, the better solution in both cases is to try to end the destructive behavior, which would prevent the tragic results. Of course there is the occasional "innocent victim" -- the wife whose husband was doing things she either didn't know about or just tolerated, or the child with hemophilia.
But even in cases such as these, the cause of the infection can almost always be traced to someone's immoral conduct; even if you have to trace it to the perversion of the blood donor who subsequently infected the innocent child.
Innocent people die as a result of almost every other evil in our society, however, so it shouldn't be too surprising that the result of our immorality affects innocents, too.
AIDS is indeed a national tragedy. But what makes the AIDS epidemic even more tragic is that we know how to put a stop to it, but we're so obsessed with deviant sexual gratification, we won't do it.
It's like watching someone with chronic emphysema sucking greedily on a cigarette, then coughing for 45 seconds, only to anxiously take another puff, refusing to give up the thing that's killing him.
The homosexual perversion is killing millions in this country. Your newspaper, by printing photos which try to show homosexual relationships as normal, while failing to point out the real cause of this calamity, is its accomplice.
Matthew C. Sherrard
New Medicaid Eligibility: "Something Is Wrong'
A problem of serious local and state-wide proportions is developing rapidly and receiving inadequate official and general attention. The problem has to do with health care, and can be best described by the following essentially complete presentation of an actual case, leaving out names for reasons of privacy.
Ms. X, now 94 years old, is a retired employee of the state with some 40 years of service. She has no living ancestors, descendants or siblings, and only one collateral relative, a niece whom we will designate as Ms. Y.
In June, 1989, Ms. X, then an elderly woman with serious health problems requiring continuous medical and nursing care, was admitted to a highly responsible, well-operated, local nonprofit "nursing home," more technically known as a health care center, herein called the facility.
At that time, Ms. X had accumulated savings approximating $75,000 and was receiving Social Security and state pensions totaling about $1,510 a month. She was medically predicted to have very brief survival potential.
She made no effort to reduce her assets by gift or otherwise in order to become eligible for Medicaid assistance. Her monthly costs at the facility came to about $3,000, which she covered by application of her pension receipts and invasion of her savings.
Ms. X has long ceased to be ambulatory. In due course, her savings were totally exhausted in payment of charges for her care at the facility.
Since the pensions were insufficient to cover the monthly costs, application was made for supplemental Medicaid benefits to reduce or make up the shortage. The aid was granted, and the facility undertook to continue her care based on a combination of her pensions and the Medicaid payment. At the time, Ms. X was eligible for Medicaid assistance only because her personal assets were less than $2,500. Her monthly income (the pensions) did not stand in the way.
Ms. Y supports herself by means of a full-time job at which she earns a modest income, sufficient for one person. Her employment includes living quarters adequate for a single person, but she has no right to bring another person there to live.
She has no legal obligation to care for Ms. X, although as a collateral relative she has helped Ms. X manage her affairs for some years. There is no way she could take care of Ms. X (who requires a full range of nursing services such as the facility is designed to provide), even if she had the necessary nursing skills and training, and still hold a job and support herself.
On Sept. 30, the Maryland Board of Public Works approved a proposal by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene sharply restricting eligibility for Medicaid. It would eliminate coverage for anyone having a monthly income exceeding $1,055, or assets above $2,000.
By a moderate margin, Ms. X would not presently meet these requirements. If she were to lose her Medicaid assistance, she would be threatened with bed-ridden homelessness (literally an impossible state of affairs), absent voluntary charity of some kind.
The legislature is not in session, and its Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislature Review (AELR) has the authority and responsibility to review, reject, modify or approve the proposed change, among many others, in implementation of the recently approved state budget.
No hearings on the issue have been announced, although in the event of request by appropriate political officials, some opportunity for public discussion would presumably be afforded. Final action is expected in November, possibly retroactive to the first of the month but in any case to be in effect by Dec. 1.
Cases such as that of Ms. X are not unusual and, of course, are not confined to state employees. At least 2,000 are presently believed to exist statewide.
The total budget savings represented by the proposed change is in response to a budgetary mandate to decrease provision of medical assistance to the indigent by this amount.
However, it appears that a tiny fractional decrease in Medicaid assistance to all would provide the mandated savings without attacking the elderly poor or creating a single hardship case, a consequence of spreading the savings over an immensely broader base.
At the very least, this matter should be closely scrutinized for basic equity before the AELR acts, and full opportunity for a public hearing afforded.
Time is of the essence. A great deal of fairness in the application of public funds is at stake. Any and all interested parties (the number of people potentially exposed to this flaw in the system is very large) should be raising questions as to proper and equitable treatment of the issue, supporting open procedures in its determination.
In particular, every state senator and delegate should be looking into the situation and seeking to protect those who are not equipped to protect themselves.
Ms. X worked most of her adult life for the state, earned its pension allowance and Social Security old age protection, saved her money and has continued to contribute to the reduction of Medicaid expense by applying all her pensions and assets to the facility's charges.
Now the state is saying it is providing her with too much, though it is clearly too little, and is preparing to turn her out on the &L; street. Something is fundamentally wrong.
Brady O. Bryson
You counsel us on abortion. You steer us on gun control. About taxes and judicial appointments, you are bursting with advice.
For the City Council, for the legislature, for the Senate and the House, you press good candidates on us, cautioning against bad ones. You are our watchful political nanny, Sunpapers. Generously, you parcel out conscientious guidance every day, morning and evening.
Now, what's this? Now that the contest for the highest elective office in the world -- president of the United States -- turns sticky and blurred, what does our good nanny do?
Primly, she turns her back on us. We'll make up our own minds how to vote for president, she says, no matter what the Sunpapers say. And so, perhaps to punish us, she just won't bring up the subject.
Now that's really not good enough, Sunpapers. It's not just that we want to hear your editorial voice when the question gets tough. It's not just that we want to see how you add up the pros and cons, how you make a judgment. It's more than that.
What we want to know, Sunpapers, is very simple. We want to know what you're made of yourselves.
The writer was editorial page editor of The Evening Sun from 1968 to 1978, a period during which his newspapers endorsed Richard Nixon twice and Gerald Ford once.
Opposition to Homosexuality
The Oct. 14 Sun reprinted an article from The Nation magazine written by Donna Minkowitz, in which she defended the gay and lesbian community against attacks from the religious and political right.
I present the following to explain that much of the public opposition to the gay and lesbian community is not simply a matter of bigotry or unthinking bias.
Although no one is entirely certain what causes homosexuality, a careful study of history shows that homosexuality manifests itself more often in some societies and in particular environments.
This proves that homosexual behavior can be learned and unlearned regardless of whether or not there is an inborn predisposition toward homosexuality in some individuals.
Also, most responsible scientists maintain that, though there may be an inborn sexual predisposition, there is indisputable evidence that humans are born bipotential (capable of either heterosexual or homosexual orientation), and that one's actual sexual orientation is primarily established in postnatal experiences. (My reference is the 1987 Encyclopedia Britannica entry on "Sex and Sexuality.")
Thus even those persons with an inborn predisposition toward homosexuality can be taught to function as heterosexuals and to resist their homosexual inclinations.
This may be extremely difficult, especially once a homosexual orientation is firmly established, but the alternative of living in a homosexual lifestyle often leads to even greater long-term heartache and social maladjustment for the individual.
For reasons too numerous to detail, the monogamous heterosexual lifestyle is to be preferred and promoted.
Most importantly, it is the basis of traditional family life, wherein our children are conceived, born, sheltered and nurtured.
In the families lies the future of society; and I believe that our nation, state and community must do everything possible to protect the family.
Persons with an ill-defined or weak sexual orientation can easily be influenced toward either heterosexual or homosexual/bisexual behavior.
Sexual definition is naturally weak in children and young people. For this reason, there are scientifically supportable reasons for opposing certain sorts of "homosexual sensitivity" training for school-age children and for not allowing active homosexuals to adopt children.
Also, I believe that children should be protected from schoolteachers, scoutmasters, Big Brothers, etc., who are actively and openly homosexual.
Active male homosexuals are often sexually promiscuous, and thus homosexuality is associated in the public mind with a certain licentious and destructive lifestyle.
Leaders of the gay community have done little to oppose this sort of conduct and change the public perception.
Individuals may not have control over their sexual predisposition, but every sane person is expected to have control over his/her sexual behavior.
I believe that to protect the family and for the ultimate benefit of the individual, society should set very high standards for social sexual behavior.
Even if many of us fail to make the mark, that doesn't invalidate the standards.
We must have compassion and respect for homosexuals as individuals and as human beings, and we must afford them the full protection of the law.
However, we should not regard homosexuals as a protected, privileged minority; and we should not assist them in propagating their radical sexual agenda throughout the rest of society.
Edwin S. Jordan
'A Crisis of faith'
Frank Somerville's Sept. 20 article in The Sun's Perspective section, on Episcopalians and Roman Catholics, was right on the mark -- at least regarding the Episcopal Church.
As an Episcopal priest with certain liberal leanings, I am increasingly appalled by the erosion of traditional faith in our church. In Oct. 10 letters to the editor criticizing Mr. Somerville's article, the Rev. David W. Cammack and the Rev. William P. Baxter Jr. paint rosy but misleading pictures of what is really happening within the church these days.
While creative, life-giving ministries do indeed still exist, Mr. Cammack and Mr. Baxter do not tell us the whole story.
We Episcopalians are in a crisis of faith and morals unparalleled in our history.
Mr. Cammack and Mr. Baxter do not tell us, for example, that at the 1991 General Convention of the Church meeting in Phoenix, the House of Bishops refused to affirm this uncomplicated standard: "All clergy of this church shall abstain from genital sexual relations outside of holy matrimony."
Eighty-five bishops voted for such a standard and 91 voted "no." Instead the bishops decided to "study" the matter for the next three years.
In response to this action, Bishop John Higgins of Rhode Island said: "By such a vote, these 91, in effect, renounced their consecration vows to be 'wholesome examples to the flock of Christ.' " Much of our leadership is spiritually adrift, bereft of biblical and theological grounding.
But that's not the half of it. At our local diocesan convention in 1991, the resolution that "Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God and is the Way, the Truth and the Life" came to the floor.
After extensive theological debate, the resolution failed 135-100. was this shocking action which gave birth to the Baltimore Declaration.
So Mr. Somerville is right. The resolution was not "tabled," as Mr. Cammack claims, but rather it failed, as the official record of the diocesan convention clearly shows.
Most of the clergy who do believe are afraid to speak out.
Only an aroused laity, the true guardians of the historic faith, can, by God's grace, save the Episcopal Church.
Rev. Philip Burwell Roulette
Once in a while I am forced to look elsewhere for signs of hope in the Catholic community.
You have a very courageous leader in Bishop P. Francis Murphy. The Sept. 25 Sun article by Frank Somerville, "Bishops Differ on Idea of Women Priests," is a welcome addition to the discussion that many in Rome and here in the United States would prefer not take place.
Our Catholic leadership here is more concerned with doctrinal fidelity than the human compassion and community building exemplified by Bishop Murphy and others quoted in the article.
For a good example of what a talented woman minister looks like, we only need to look to Meredith Schlow's Sept. 26 Sun piece on the Rev. Ann Lightner, "New AME Pastor in Towson."
These two articles should be sent to the Pope in Rome. As a matter of fact, I am going to send copies of these articles to Cardinal Bernard F. Law here in Boston.
Gene "Tito" Roman