The Senate's exercise to get PackwoodThe nearly week-long...

the Forum

November 10, 1993

The Senate's exercise to get Packwood

The nearly week-long diatribe by feminist senators led by our own Barbara Mikulski against Sen. Robert Packwood (R-Ore.) leaves many wondering whether the Senate doesn't have better, more important matters to consider.

It certainly is an exercise in ignorance on the part of the ladies.

Regardless of how heinous the accusations against Senator Packwood, he is entitled to the same presumption of innocence afforded any miscreant.

To force him to open up his diary so that the Ethics Committee can see whether it contains anything incriminating is analogous to Eastern District police officers searching Ms. Mikulski's residence to see if they can find anything incriminating.

No matter how evil Senator Packwood may be (and I'm convinced he is nothing of which the Senate should be proud) or how guilty he may appear, the Fourth and Fifth Amendments (prohibitions of unreasonable search and seizure and of involuntary self-incrimination) still apply.

It has long been a point of law that enforcement agencies must show a judge that a crime has been committed, that it knows what evidence it seeks, and why it believes that evidence is where its agents want to search.

In our system of jurisprudence, the evidence, not the seriousness of the accusation, still rules.

The feminist senators also overlook the night of Oct. 1, 1992, when the Senate voted to hold its members blameless in actions charging violation of employees' civil rights (including sexual harassment), and that all legal fees for defending civil rights suits will be paid by the Senate.

It's in the Congressional Record. Senators Mikulski, Murray et al. could, as Casey Stengel used to say, look it up.

Chuck Frainie


Dark ages

I appreciate your Nov. 2 endorsement of a domestic partnership mechanism for gay and lesbian couples, but the writer of the editorial, "Marriage and the city's future," missed the main point of the broader proposal now circulating in draft form among members of the City Council.

The intent of that proposal is to support and protect the array of families which exist in our current society.

This includes gay and lesbian people, but also elderly couples living together without being married because of potential loss of economic resources, persons with disabilities who have live-in companions and persons related by blood (e.g. brother-sister households) for whom marriage is totally inappropriate.

We who are advocating for the draft proposal have nothing against marriage.

We want as many people to have access to and use marriage as possible. Most of us came out of heterosexual marriages of which we are very proud.

The reality of many families these days is that for good or ill our needs are not met by traditional models provided for in state marriage and family law.

It's too bad The Evening Sun's editorial board can't get out of the dark ages on this issue and support the full range of people who happily live in such situations.

John Hannay


The writer is executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Baltimore.

Health plan

When I was an employee, the Social Security-Medicare tax was a sore point.

Now I'm looking at these programs from a recipient's point of view, and I still don't like what I see.

In addition to the taxes being a big reduction in employees' pay, they're such a burden on employers that they contribute to corporate reductions in force and the loss of jobs.

Meanwhile, the expense of the benefits and bureaucracy has gotten so out of control that entitlements are the major contributor to the budget deficit.

Yet so far, the government's response is to tax benefits -- not cut back on them. In fact, Mr. Clinton proposes to add prescription drug and long-term care to Medicare.

If the government goes ahead with the plan to make seniors pay in full for Part "B" (about $3,600 per year for husband and wife), I'd like to see this contribution applied to reducing the Medicare tax paid by workers and employers instead of being used for more spending.

M. O. Robinson


No need to apologize for loving a pet

Terri Combs-Orme's tribute to her children (Other Voices, Nov. 3) was touching, but it is unfortunate that she found it necessary to unfairly belittle animal lovers in order to make her point.

To those of us who have not been blessed with children and now have no family at all, a faithful pet is very dear.

I make no apology for my love for mine.

Perhaps she would better understand if she read the wonderful elegy to his cat by author Cleveland Emory, in the Oct. 24 Parade magazine. He said it far better than I ever could.

Charles A. Earp


Non-smokers' health must be protected

Doubtless we will be hearing a great deal for some time to come about the plan to ban smoking on work sites throughout Maryland.

It has taken far longer than it ever should have to recognize that second-hand or ambient tobacco smoke adversely affects those who must work and live around the smokers.

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