Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

September 22, 2007

Court leaves families stuck in legal limbo

The cruel and incomprehensible decision of the Maryland Court of Appeals to uphold the 1973 marriage statute hurts thousands of gay and lesbian Marylanders and their children and families ("Decision stuns plaintiffs," Sept. 19).

It denies them equal civil rights and maintains their second-class status under the law.

It leaves these very real and loving families in legal limbo.

And where is the justice of this decision? Who did it help?

When the cause of minority civil rights is taken up, one expects our judiciary to work to make life better for all Marylanders, not worse.

Is there anyone out there who can honestly say that his or her quality of life is better today thanks to this sad ruling?

Judge Glenn T. Harrell Jr. justified the ruling by arguing that the state has "legitimate interests in fostering procreation and encouraging the traditional family structure."

Really?

If Judge Harrell truly believes that argument, will the Court of Appeals next rule that couples past childbearing age, couples who are infertile and couples who choose not to have children may not legally marry?

I would offer two images for the judges who ruled against civil marriage equality to ponder as they live with the consequences of their decision: that of plaintiff Lisa Polyak tearfully explaining how she and Gita Deane, her loving partner of 25 years, would break the sad news to their daughters that the state of Maryland does not consider them a family, and that of virulently anti-gay Del. Donald H. Dwyer Jr. gleefully proclaiming Tuesday to be "a wonderful day."

Rob Lance

Columbia

The writer is on the steering committee of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays of Columbia-Howard County.

Valuing the life of each unique tree

It was heartening to read that tadpoles are returning to Stony Run following the restoration of the stream bed, and that more trees, bushes and flowers will be planted there this fall ("Frogs hop back into Stony Run," Sept. 17).

Without grinding anyone's face in the fact that a large number of mature trees were destroyed - many unnecessarily - during the restoration of the stream bed, I would like to suggest that planting new trees does not fully make up for killing established ones.

Many of the trees excised during the Stony Run restoration had been there for decades, some for a century or more.

While there is no reason to believe trees have feelings, as humans and animals do, they do live. And we need to respect the kind of life trees have.

We need to value individual trees, not just the "tree canopy," because trees have unique existences.

They start life at a given point in time, grow in a certain place and respond to the capriciousness of sun, rain, wind, cold, heat, drought and disease, as well as the hostile encroachments of civilization.

Trees may not witness history, but they do co-exist with it and often outlast it.

They are a part of our world, and we need to acknowledge them as living participants in it.

Rene J. Muller

Baltimore

Age is wrong basis to judge candidates

Steve Chapman's assertion that Sen. John McCain is too old to be president is, indeed, unpleasant ("Unpleasant but true: McCain is too old to be president," Opinion

Commentary, Sept. 10). It is also untrue and unfair.

Judging a person's ability to perform any job based solely on his or her age is the very definition of age discrimination.

In fact, more and more Americans continue to work well into their traditional retirement years, and employers (and voters) are embracing the experience, knowledge and skills older workers possess.

The Census Bureau reported last week that the share of people ages 65 to 74 who were still working jumped from about 20 percent in 2000 to about 23 percent in 2006. And the percentage was even higher in the Washington region, where almost one-third of people in that age range continued to work.

Winston Churchill was 65 when he led Great Britain into World War II, and since 2006, all European Union nations have been required to have anti-age-discrimination laws.

Mr. Chapman would do well to judge the candidates based on their ability to address this country's crises in health care and financial security instead of pointing fingers and calling people "too old."

Erwin Sekulow Joseph DeMattos Jr. Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, the state president and state director of AARP Maryland.

Reschedule city vote to boost turnout

Several theories have been advanced as to the causes for the low voter turnout for the Baltimore primary election - in which only 31 percent of registered Democrats voted ("A troubling malaise," editorial, Sept. 13).

But much greater voter turnout could be achieved if our city elections were timed to coincide with the elections for governor and other statewide offices, members of the General Assembly and members of Congress.

And the city and the state would save money because of the elimination of separate elections in the city.

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