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Letters Nov. 18 

Of marriage and mandates The forces of religious right(eousness) have spoken in the presidential election. Soon gay marriage and abortion will be illegal everywhere; school prayer will be permitted again. But why stop there? Let’s REALLY go back to the good old days when piety swung a huge stick in American life. I look forward to the return of: Blue laws — no sales of groceries or goods on Sunday. No professional sports on Sunday. No remarriage after divorce. Many churches still refuse to marry folks after a divorce, just as they refuse to marry gay people. In fact, many churches are against divorce altogether. Prohibition of alcohol. Prohibition of contraception: ALL contraception, not just the morning- after pill. The Roman Catholics are very firm on this one. Women may not cut their hair. Jews may not hold certain jobs. The Puritans will be particularly proud of us if we can get all this done by Thanksgiving. C.H. Patterson Little Rock Nov. 2, 11 states passed referendums or constitutional amendments banning the recognition of gay marriages or civil unions, thereby marginalizing a significant number of their citizens. I have been laboring under the impression that Americans believe that we are all created equal and that we all have the God-given right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I realize that in our history as a country we have denied rights to segments of our population before now — Indians, women, African Americans, Japanese Americans, and others. We were wrong. As a people we have righted these wrongs, made reparations, and learned from our mistakes. I am deeply sorry that we have made yet another mistake which seems to be rooted in fear and ignorance. My marriage is always enhanced and reinforced when friends decide to marry. When my husband and I attend weddings it always strengthens our bond. I am sorry that until people of conscience can overturn the ban on gay marriage we will have fewer occasions to rejoice in the unions of committed couples. Martha Ware Kiley Bigelow I’m a 23-year-old graduate student in communications at the University of Arkansas and I am also gay. You are correct to assume that I voted for John Kerry. The other assumption about gay men is that we all had the same opinion on Amendment 3 to ban same-sex marriage. Not necessarily. I believe that anyone should go into marriage if they want too. What I don’t believe in is the way in which the Democratic Party and the gay movement attempted to reach this goal. Most sensible Americans believe in health care options, tax cuts and property breaks for partners. However, the Young Democrats and young gay groups of this school, state and country are NOT satisfied with this. They don’t want the rewards alone, they want the title. They radically ask for a foundational change of the American people. When you do things like this, change doesn’t happen. Think if you will. Would it have been too much to ask for African American rights, women’s rights, and employment equality rights on the same day? Of course. Should all of these people (including gays) have equal rights? Of course. Will America hand them to them overnight? No. Democrats have a lot of thinking to do. They are essentially handing over this country to Republicans. I’m still proud to be a Democrat, and gay. I just wish that these groups would use their heads a little more. Wayne Bell Fayetteville I wanted to write about Republican attempts to characterize George Bush’s election victory as a “mandate.” The truth is that the election illustrated exactly the opposite — that the nation is bitterly divided and that no mandate exists for an extreme conservative agenda. When Richard Nixon won re-election over George McGovern in 1972, he carried 61 percent of the popular vote and captured the Electoral College 520-17. In 1984, when the incumbent Ronald Reagan defeated Walter Mondale, he took 59 percent of the popular vote and carried the Electoral College 525-13. Those elections, it is fair to say, produced mandates for Republican presidents. But with 51 percent of the popular vote and a 286-252 win in the Electoral College — in which President Bush won the decisive state, Ohio, so narrowly that the result was not yet clear on election night — the Republicans are claiming an obviously non-existent mandate. This is, of course, a political ploy intended to exaggerate the nation’s level of support for the president’s policies and proposals. Stephen Caldwell Little Rock Vote watcher I read with great interest and disgust the article Nov. 4 by Ernest Dumas. I was a Republican poll watcher on Election Day, and you can imagine my surprise when I read that my “party this year was dedicated in many parts of the nation to holding down the votes of black men and women and it was a good-enough strategy for party leaders in Arkansas...” and that “Republicans sent poll workers to largely minority voting precincts to challenge voters, demanding to see voter-affidavit cards, driver licenses and other identifications and, finding possible technical infractions, telling people they weren’t eligible to vote.” I cannot recall a single instance where I held down the votes of black men and women. I worked at what seemed to me to be a largely minority voting precinct and did not challenge a single voter, did not demand a single piece of identification, and did not tell a single person they were ineligible to vote. I could talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations regarding the supposed intimidating effects of making sure that every potential voter followed the law, but I won’t. After all the ranting Mr. Dumas indulges in, the most he could conclude was that these supposed nefarious efforts “may have had a little” effect and “may have discouraged” potential voters. James Born Little Rock Disinformation I’ve learned that asking for what I need increases the chances of my getting it. So, following my initial distress last summer upon learning that the woods next door to me had sold and would be developed, I decided to make sure I had a role in the process. How? By cautiously getting to know the “developers” (two young couples) and thereby diminishing my sense of helplessness or victimhood. Easy? No. But necessary for my serenity. Regarding our neighbors’ insinuation of our being in bed with the developers, in what way did my opportunity, access or influence differ from my neighbors or the Hillcrest Residents Association? Why the overt targeting of my husband in Roger Smith’s letter to the editor last week and your writer Warwick Sabin’s unwillingness to contact us before mentioning us in his article two weeks ago? Accusing my husband of benefiting “tremendously from this development” is Mr. Smith’s sad attempt to retaliate for an unrelated neighborhood issue dating back to 1999. The implication of Bill Rector’s abusing his position on the Planning Commission is ludicrous, if not slanderous, and flies in the face of his longstanding fair voting record and his overwhelmingly positive reputation. Disinformation, disagreements and disputes are best resolved with open communication. Ignorance breeds powerlessness. With enlightenment comes power. Sally Scott-Rector Little Rock
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