President Obama's decision to decline to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, a law that even former President Bill Clinton now says he regrets having signed, is hardly precedent-setting.
Several former presidents, including Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Clinton, have taken similar stances.
Interestingly, it was Chief Justice John Roberts, then acting in his role as a Justice Department attorney, who argued in 1990 that President Bush was not obligated to defend in court a federal law he deemed discriminatory (Metro Broadcasting vs. FCC).
President Obama is not dodging his constitutionally mandated role, he is fulfilling it. He has said, quite plainly, that gay and lesbian Americans shall not be treated as second-class citizens. Good for him. It's about time.
KATY DANIELS, MINNEAPOLIS
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I applaud the president and his Justice Department for doing what is right, what is just and what he took an oath to do: defend the Constitution.
The Defense of Marriage Act is very likely unconstitutional, as it makes discrimination against a protected minority into law. It behooves the Justice Department to distance itself from legislation that was passed in order to institutionalize bigotry.
It is gratifying to note that our society is slowly but surely moving toward a day when all Americans have the rights that I and the rest of the majority take for granted: the right to marry the person he or she loves. The actions of this administration are both courageous and right.
MICHELE DUKINFIELD, ROSEVILLE
Q. How many lies did the "journalist" posing as a big donor have to tell before he ever got on the phone with Gov. Scott Walker?
A. Almost as many as the "journalist" posing as a pimp who took down ACORN did.
Q. How many liberals who universally denounced the "gotcha" journalism of the ACORN exposer, fully embraced what this guy did to Walker?
A. Almost every one.
Q. How many conservatives who loved what the "journalist" did to ACORN decried the unethical approach to getting Walker on the phone?
A. Almost every one.
As if we didn't know it already, it's good to remember it's all about politics, all the time. Heaven help us all, and especially anybody who really wants to get something positive done.
TIM TURNER, COON RAPIDS
The Feb. 25 Letter of the Day ("How the governor's budget is like a hearty potluck dinner") was spot-on. Paying taxes is exactly like going to a neighborhood potluck.
Unfortunately, the writer forgot to mention that too many neighbors are showing up at the party bringing nothing to share and then have the audacity to complain that the chicken wings are too spicy.
When clean-up comes, those same neighbors are the first to leave, because they didn't bring anything. To add insult to injury, another neighbor starts bemoaning how unfair the cleanup is because your broom is much nicer than hers and leaves you to finish the job.
CARTER ANDERSON, PLYMOUTH
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Minnesota's pension administrators have been making the rounds at the State Capitol reassuring lawmakers that the pension system is in good shape.
A recent article ("In pension and benefits, Wisconsin tops Minnesota," Feb. 24) repeated their claim that investment returns managed by the State Board of Investment will provide 67 cents of every pension dollar paid.
The article also stated: "For every dollar paid out in Minnesota public pension benefits, employees contribute 15 cents, taxpayers kick in about 18 cents and the rest comes from investment earnings."
Is the state really contributing and earning enough to cover pension promises?
The reassuring answer you get is that Minnesota's actuarial formula, combined with a long-term aggressive approach to investing, will generate sufficient dollars to fund pensions.
But at what point does the hole get so deep that we cannot earn our way out of it? Unfunded liabilities are now $12.4 billion in actuarial terms and $19.4 billion in market dollars.
When Gov. Mark Dayton was state auditor, he adopted "value-added performance auditing" to check pension performance in real dollars. He knew you could lose money even when you earn a positive investment return.
The economics of pensions are complicated; we find the following study helpful: www.mntax.org/cpfr/pensions.php (see page 46).
Dayton's reform was dropped because it forced the state to look hard at the fact that it could not keep pension promises without raising contributions from employees or taxpayers.
KIM CROCKETT; PRESIDENT, MINNESOTA FREE MARKET INSTITUTE
Many are moaning at the thought of starting over with possibilities for a bridge, but a recent article ("U-turn on St. Croix, Feb. 24) brought to light the four major concerns: Environmental disruption, traffic through downtown Stillwater, an aging (unsafe?) bridge and an increase in volume of commuter traffic.
Why can't we be content to have the first three met, by building a new two-lane bridge south of the present one? In most adult negotiations, that would be deemed a good dispute resolution. We are civilized adults, right?
The concern of the Minnesota Department of Transportation to try to accommodate people who live across the river is notable public service. But surely those commuters would have a better drive (another win!) with a replacement bridge outside of downtown Stillwater.
What's not acceptable here?
SHEILA MARTIN, NEW BRIGHTON
While Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is trying to eviscerate workers' rights, while Congress focuses on limiting abortion rights and defunding health care, while President Obama lurches from one foreign crisis to another; while the media discusses the implosion of Lohan and Sheen, and while Hollywood prepared for Sunday's vacuous, self-congratulatory theater, our armed forces have suffered 37 deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan since the first of the year.
JOE TAMBURINO, WEST ST. PAUL