A civil union would simply not be equal

The civil-unions bill introduced in the Minnesota Legislature does not give equal rights and responsibilities to same-sex couples, whatever its authors might say.

Legal analysts expect the U.S. Supreme Court to find the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, which means that married same-sex couples would have federal benefits this summer. Yet as Justice Stephen Breyer pointed out, “if a [civil union] is enough, they won’t get federal benefits, those that are tied to marriage, because they’re not married.” These benefits include Social Security, joint tax filing and immigration benefits.

I’m painfully aware of this shortfall. As a gay graduate student abroad, if I were to develop a serious relationship here, I would be able to sponsor a husband for U.S. residency, but not someone with whom I have a civil union. I would hate to be kept from returning to Minnesota with someone I love because of that distinction.

Of course, civil unions do not carry the dignity, respect or gravity of equal marriage, but let us not pretend they even carry the same protection under the law.

Ian Snyder, Prague, Czech Republic

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Made here: Weapons and empty promises

The article “Arms trade treaty faces enough Senate opposition to scuttle pact if Obama submits it” (, April 3) shows the terrible political power of the armament industry in the United States. While other countries are manufacturing goods such as TVs, toasters and clothes, the United States manufactures armaments.

Sixty percent of our exports are armaments. We need to move this unwieldy ship around and start manufacturing items to meet people’s needs rather than supplying the world with arms. We need Eisenhower to rise up from the dead and warn us again about the military-industrial complex.

Judith Moore, St. Louis Park

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After World War II, there was a national outcry over housing shortages for veterans. Today, there are still homeless heroes, but not because of a housing shortage. Unaffordable housing and lack of employment hit veterans especially hard as they transition back to civilian life. Comprehensive care simply isn’t there!

Our nation’s soldiers fought bravely for us overseas (with some having been POWs), but what are they coming home to? The government promises not to leave anyone behind, but what about the ones left in the street? Steve Sack’s April 4 editorial cartoon is correct in pointing out how big government boondoggles what it started. If the Department of Veterans Affairs can’t take care of its own, who can?

Howard Jay Meyer, Brooklyn, N.Y.

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If lesson was learned, it sure could be costly

Three public-sector unions are collectively millions in the red annually and are looking for a taxpayer bailout through, in part, additional fees associated with the purchase of certain insurance policies (“Pension funds turn to Minnesota government for help,” April 3).

State Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul and chair of the Legislative Commission on Pensions and Retirement, stated that “we have been responsible, but the stock market is a problem so some of these funds need a little shoring up.”

Up to $36 million a year? A little shoring up? Somebody should tell the senator that the S&P 500 hit an all-time intraday high earlier this week.

What are these three public-sector pension funds going to do when the Fed stops buying bonds as part of whatever iteration of QE we are on now? Pappas went on to say that “[w]e kind of learned our lesson that when times are good, it doesn’t mean you can give extra benefits.” This is something that needed to be learned? From the perspective of stock market performance, times are good. Glad the senator and the rest of the committee learned their lesson.

Charles Keenan, St. Paul

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Once again, taxpayers are being asked to bail out underfunded public-employee pension plans, this time for Duluth and St. Paul teachers. Sorry, folks, the stock market is to blame, not consistent underfunding, unrealistic return-on-investment assumptions and liberal benefits to reward our union voters.Just need to shore things up a bit. What, you say? Your private 401(k) and IRA retirement accounts also have shortfalls due to underfunding, unrealistic assumptions and poor stock market performance? You’re not a government worker. No taxpayer bailouts for you.

David A. Walberg, Arden Hills

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The arm of the law can never be long enough

The Connecticut mass murderer, Adam Lanza, shot his mother three times in the face as she slept. He did it in order to steal her firearms. She didn’t “give” them to him. How does an April 4 letter writer think a background check would have stopped a man willing to murder a gun owner in order to get a gun in order to go and murder dozens of schoolchildren? How many felonies did he commit before he got to the schoolhouse door?

The Star Tribune’s own article last week about a young man with a gun in north Minneapolis told readers that he went to Chicago (and into criminal channels) to get it. He bypassed all legal channels in at least two states. Did a law stop him? How about the first-degree murder statute?

Joseph Olson, Roseville