Marriage gives children the best chance at success

Cynthia Tucker's column "Bush's strategy: Pander to prejudice" (Opinion * Commentary, Feb. 2) starts with a few high-minded paragraphs about how awful President Bush's policies are, but when she gets to the real purpose of the column - attacking Mr. Bush on his policy against same-sex marriage - she uses invective and name-calling, which are the hallmark of the desperate.

But the people who support a declaration that marriage is between a man and a woman - the majority, according to polls I have seen - aren't doing so to "bash gays," but to affirm the age-old understanding of the meaning and purposes of marriage in any human society: the good of the couple and the raising of children in an environment that offers them the best chance to become successful, happy adults.

Over the past few years, we have begun to learn the results of half a century of unwitting experimentation with high rates of divorce, and the story isn't pretty.

Social science research has demonstrated that heterosexual marriage is good for couples and good for children. Children are far likelier to achieve a healthy adulthood and make lasting marriages when they have a daddy and mommy and when the daddy and mommy live in the same home.

Why would we want to put children - who are "human subjects" in these large-scale experiments but who cannot and would not consent - through the wringer of same-sex parents and the instability of same-sex relationships?

Patricia Keimig


Closing policy sends the wrong message

The focus of The Sun's article "Area schools' decision to use snow day gets an icy reception" (Feb. 4) seemed to be on how the situation inconveniences parents and how various districts will have to adjust schedules for the rest of the year, and not how the situation affects learning.

It surprises me that none of the school administrators articulated any concern that the way "inclement weather days" are managed may be detrimental to the education of children or that they are considering any changes in the way they manage those days.

I think children lose as a result of Maryland's approach to school and inclement weather. It teaches children to spend energy rooting for "inclement weather days" when they should be spending energy learning.

And by June, children are so fed up with school that I think even excellent teachers find it difficult to motivate their students to learn.

Perhaps it's time for Maryland to consider changing the way it manages the school calendar to keep children focused on learning, rather than focus on refining their snow dances.

Chris DiPietro


Decision on closing is never an easy one

Sadly, it is tempting for some to believe, after an event has occurred, that they could have accurately predicted the outcome ("Area school's decision to use snow day gets icy reception," Feb. 4). But of course they cannot.

And those of us who must decide at 5 a.m. whether to close schools, open them late or keep them open are faced with a gut-twisting decision, usually after a restless night.

A shift in the rain-snow line, a change of wind direction, an unexpected high or low entering the picture (which seems to happen all of the time) and you are, suddenly and it seems forever, the chowder-head who didn't know it was going to rain. Or snow. Or do nothing.

My regards to those who decided to close their school systems on Tuesday for the safety of their students and staffs. I stayed open, and was lucky this time.

Reid C. Raudenbush


The writer is director of the physical plant for Washington College.

Let Congress control panel on intelligence

The Bush administration, under pressure from both Republicans and Democrats, has decided to appoint a "nonpartisan" commission to investigate not only what intelligence was available and how it was used for the war in Iraq, but also how to improve our intelligence-gathering in the future ("Iraq-arms inquiry to open soon," Feb. 4).

The goal is on target. But the major problem is: Who appoints the commission members and sets the limits of the investigation? And how reliable can the information be when those suspected of wrongdoing initiate this process?

Congress, not the president, should oversee this investigation.

David L. Pollitt

Forest Hill

Alter transit plan to aid the disabled

When Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. delivered his State of the State address, he invited me to the event because of my advocacy for the disabled. And the governor has a long history of helping people with disabilities. That's why I hope he does not tolerate actions within his administration that undermine the state's procurement process and weaken support of the disability community.

As The Sun has reported, the choice of a new vendor for Maryland's paratransit services has been controversial ("E-mails raise questions about MTA contract," Jan. 29). This unfair process has harmed a lot of good people.

A decade ago, the Glendening administration awarded Maryland's paratransit contract to another out-of-town company. It was a disaster, and disabled riders suffered.

Let's not repeat that mistake.

The state's Department of Transportation already is being sued for violations of federal disability law in its paratransit program. It does not need another debacle.

The governor has an opportunity to clean up this mess, which started under the prior administration. He should throw out the tainted procurement award and convene meetings with members of the disability community with two goals in mind: a prompt settlement of the federal lawsuit and a revised paratransit plan that better meets the needs of those of us who depend on this essential service.

Joel Myerberg


The writer is founder of the Maryland Disabilities Forum and the Independent Living Foundation.

Keep light rail going as track is added

The Maryland Transit Administration's announced intention to shut down the southern half of the light rail line for eight months while it is being double-tracked is guaranteed to drive away a large number of current riders ("State to close light rail line to add track," Jan. 30).

Such losses have happened to other transit systems that have made the same mistake. Once riders are forced to use other means of transportation to make their daily trips, few of them will return to the light rail line when it reopens. And the substitute bus service during the shut down will be slower, less convenient, less comfortable, less safe and more costly to operate.

The MTA's first responsibility is to maintain the existing service its users depend upon, even if doing so increases the cost of double-tracking.

This would protect the state's investment in constructing the light rail line and building ridership over the past 14 years.

Charles J. Lietwiler


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