Readers Respond

August 27, 2009

Former governor now supports gay marriage

Tom Schaller is commended for his thoughtful commentary in the Baltimore Sun regarding marriage equality for same-gender couples ("Md. should be a leader on gay marriage," Aug. 25). While serving as Prince George's County executive and governor of Maryland, I was a forceful advocate for enacting laws that ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Despite our successes, however, in addressing employment, housing and public accommodations discrimination against gays and lesbians, I was firm in my statements that I believed "marriage should be between a man and a woman." This was especially true during my 1998 re-election campaign.

I was wrong! Allowing same-gender couples to join in the institution of marriage, and to experience the commitment and security of being legally married, does nothing to diminish or alter the institution of marriage itself. It does, however, promote healthy, stable families.

The freedom to marry is a basic human right. It was during the 1998 campaign, and it certainly is today. Democratic leaders all too often point to incremental progress but actively maintain the status quo because of political sensitivities. They can learn from my personal awakening. Simply put, ending discrimination means ending discrimination in marriage. Maryland should be among the great states in our country that affirm this personal freedom for all our citizens, regardless of whom they love.

Parris Glendening The writer was governor of Maryland from 1995 to 2003.

Religious groups also need protection

I agree that Maryland should recognize and permit same-sex marriage. The opposition in the African-American community and in the Orthodox Jewish community is largely due to beliefs grounded in the Bible. While these Bible-based beliefs are sincere and understandable, Maryland is a secular state. We should not base Maryland law on what is in the Bible.

However, this sentence in Mr. Schaller's column jumped out at me: "Oh, and there are hundreds of animal species that engage in homosexual congress, and even some species - like grouper fish and wrasses - that change sex mid-life." I am neither a biologist nor an ichthyologist, but the behavior of the animal species in this or other regards should not be the justification for changing Maryland law.

Another difficulty is this: If a synagogue or church has a rule against same-sex marriage that is Bible based, and thus it is a rule/belief protected by the First Amendment, would Maryland, if it permits same-sex marriage, require a synagogue or church to accept same-sex couples as a marital unit for membership purposes? Would ministers, priests and rabbis be required to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies if they perform opposite-sex ceremonies, so as not to discriminate?

We need to pass same-sex marriage in Maryland, but we need at the same time to delicately balance the legislation by protecting legitimate religious observances against impermissible government intrusion.

Irwin E. Weiss, Baltimore

Don't let Del. Cardin's mistake overshadow achievements

It's a shame that Jon Cardin made the mistake he did; however, it would be an even bigger shame if his outstanding public service to date, or his future service, would be lost because of it.

I know Jon as a friend, and I've worked with him in his role as a community and elected leader. Jon is an outstanding leader who is an asset to his constituents, his colleagues and to the people of Maryland.

I know from speaking with him that he feels horrible about what happened. Jon knows now that in the moment he acted on impulse and from the heart, not his head.

But Jon's constituents, colleagues and Marylanders should not have to pay the price of losing Jon's passion for public service, his commitment to seeking to work on the tough issues facing Marylanders and our elected leaders, or the very important, almost ambassador-like role Jon plays in building compromise and enacting solutions in Annapolis. Cardin's expertise on the stem-cell debate in Annapolis exemplifies his ability to grasp and explain intricate and important social issues.

Let's give Jon Cardin the chance to continue to prove his worth to all Marylanders and the voters of his district. I am betting Jon will do just that.

Joseph DeMattos, Jr., Baltimore

Flu shot trials raise concerns

So many questions left unanswered in "Flu shot trials begin on children," Aug. 20. A little research reveals that dangers to health from H1N1 flu are much less than dangers from the vaccines being developed and used on our kids.

The grandmother of flu shot experimentee Hunter Sears cheerfully declares, "Some people have to be guinea pigs." Does she not know the history of medical experimentation in this country, with the name Tuskeegee flashing to mind? How about the veterans of the wars in Iraq who are sick with mysterious auto-immune disorders years after being injected with the same substances that are going to be used in these experimental flu vaccines? Unquestioning compliance is not acceptable - especially when the health of one's children is at stake.

Sue Akerman, Baltimore

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