LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Same-sex marriage secures real equality

Thank you, Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, for joining the ranks of courageous leaders - people such as Coretta Scott King, Kweisi Mfume, Julian Bond and Archbishop Desmond Tutu - who dare to put themselves on the line for equal marriage rights ("Gansler backing same-sex nuptials," Feb. 15).

Last week, I went to meet with my elected officials to urge their support of civil marriage rights for gays and lesbians.

After explaining that civil unions would not protect gay families but would set up a separate and unequal system for same-sex couples and that only civil marriage will ensure those families equal protection under the law, I heard several legislators explain that although they personally abhor discrimination, they could not support civil marriage for gay couples because of the way they were raised.

Well, we were all raised in a culture that promotes the idea that gays and lesbians are second-class citizens, whose families are not equal because they are not what we were raised to think of as "normal."

But that is no excuse for failing to do what is right.

I can think of no better words to express this than those of Rep. John Lewis, who said: "I've heard the reasons for opposing civil marriage for same-sex couples. Cut through the distractions, and they stink of the same fear, hatred and intolerance I have known in racism and in bigotry."

This is a moment in Maryland when we can take the difficult but just path and stop condoning institutionalized discrimination based on sexual orientation.

I pray for our leaders to have the courage to take that path, and for our citizens to fight to insist that they do.

Kara McDonagh

Baltimore

Thank God for people like Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler.

I hope someday many more people will realize that bans on gay marriage and same-sex unions are discriminatory threats to true family values.

I have to wonder about "traditionalists" who spend so much energy fighting love with hate.

Even more curious is the notion that they have the right to interfere with a committed couple's longing to be together, in sickness and in health.

Please, let's put down our swords and fight the real battles.

Angie Engles

Columbia

Kudos to Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler for endorsing gay marriage.

I know a number of same-sex couples, some with children, whose love for each other and their children is clearly as deep and abiding as that of any straight couple. The state has no business playing favorites by denying the right of marriage (and the rights that follow from marriage) to such couples.

Of course, no church should be legally compelled to recognize a marriage to which it is theologically opposed.

But marriage in the eyes of the state is a different matter.

Legal marriage should be dispensed fairly based on compelling state interests and with a presumption that abiding love merits support.

Jim Garrett

Towson

More taxes on rich won't help catch up

The editorial notebook "Falling behind" (Feb. 16) suggests "shifting more of the federal tax burden to wealthier Americans."

Perhaps the editors are not aware that the top 1 percent of the nation's wage-earners now pay approximately 36 percent of all federal income taxes and that the top 5 percent pay more than half.

The idea that further increasing taxes on "the rich" will raise significant amounts of money is ludicrous.

Further, I would like to know the ethical basis for punishing the most productive members of American society.

Jeff Schumer

Baltimore

The top 1 percent of the nation's income scale is paying more than 35 percent of the federal income tax burden now.

What percentage will make The Sun happy?

You can only take so much before you kill the golden goose.

Tax the wealthy any more and it won't be worth it for them to continue to produce at such a high level.

Besides, it has been shown time and time again that if you want more money for social programs, you need to cut taxes, not increase them.

Bill Konowitz

Elkton

Board ought to back raise for teachers

As a recently retired Baltimore County teacher and the father of a Baltimore County student, I must respond to a statement by county school board President JoAnn C. Murphy.

As an excuse for not asking for teacher salary raises, she argued, "We're trying to be as fiscally responsible as we could be" ("Teachers union hints at action on pay raise," Feb. 15).

But that is not the school board's job - that's the county executive's job.

The board should be asking for what the school system and its employees need - for the funds needed to hire and retain the best teachers possible for our children.

County Executive James T. Smith Jr. can then decide what the county can afford.

If Ms. Murphy and the rest of the school board are making that calculation, who will advocate for the true needs of the school system?

Ken Shapiro

Baltimore

Reassess the junk we send into space

As an Earthling who may have to deal with lethal objects and toxic materials hurtling from orbit, I believe it's time for disclosure as to what's circling above us ("U.S. to shoot down satellite," Feb. 15).

The necessity for constellations of spy satellites should be reassessed, especially when they carry tanks of deadly hydrazine.

A treaty the United States signed in 1967 prohibits weapons in space. NASA and the European Space Agency must revisit this document.

Reckless and hasty decisions to shoot down artifacts in space can create debris, and this will endanger future manned missions to the moon and beyond.

R. N. Ellis

Baltimore

Show solidarity with fired show host

All of us who are demonstrating at WYPR to call for Marc Steiner to be returned to his program and ask the public not to contribute to WYPR until he's back on the air were shocked that Dan Rodricks had agreed to take Mr. Steiner's old job ("Rodricks chosen to fill Steiner's slot," Feb. 13).

Mr. Rodricks, like Mr. Steiner, is an employee. Where is the worker solidarity?

After the despicable way Mr. Steiner was fired, no Baltimore media employee should consider working for that station.

And how can Mr. Rodricks cross a picket line of Maryland residents who are supporting a 15-year veteran talk-show host who was fired for no legitimate reason?

Kay Dellinger

Baltimore

Steiner's questions favored his friends

After reading the editorial "Your public radio" (Feb. 6) and subsequent letters about Marc Steiner, please let me offer a different view.

I found Mr. Steiner to be arrogant and one-sided.

He threw softball questions to guests he liked, while attacking those whose views differed from his own.

Thomas Vincent

Baltimore

Has McCain softened stance on torture?

Well it looks like another wheel has fallen off the "Straight Talk Express."

On Feb. 13, Sen. John McCain voted against a bill to ban the use of waterboarding and other forms of torture by the CIA.

The bill, which was passed by the Senate, limits the CIA to interrogation tactics outlined in the U.S. Army Field Manual.

In 2006, Mr. McCain co-sponsored the Detainee Treatment Act, which banned any military use of similar torture interrogation tactics.

But with regard to this year's bill, he claimed that the measure went too far, while also urging the administration to declare torture tactics illegal.

But we all know just how likely that is.

It is obvious that Mr. McCain, who was tortured while a prisoner of war in Vietnam, has begun to sell his honor to curry favor with the far-right wing of the Republican Party.

What else will he do to win his party's presidential nomination?

Patrick T. Fleeharty

Annapolis

Gilchrest represents the whole district

The writer of the letter "Gilchrest's defeat sustains democracy" (Feb. 17) is in need of some remedial civics lessons.

Mr. Gilchrest was not, as he argues, "elected to take a partisan stance in favor of the constituency that elected him."

He was elected to represent the views and needs of his constituents in the 1st District - those who voted for him and those who voted against him.

He is supposed to exercise good judgment and, when necessary, put the needs of the country as a whole before those of his district.

That is a point sadly missing from the conservative agenda espoused by state Sens. Andy Harris and E. J. Pipkin and those who support them.

Ed Weglein

Grasonville

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