We don’t use religion to set public policy

To a recent letter writer who stated that “God says homosexuality is a sin, an abomination. It’s in the Bible. Thus, those who are against gay marriage are in the right”: I would submit that there is overwhelming tangible evidence that gays and lesbians exist in the world today.

They are our friends, our neighbors, our family members and our coworkers. They own homes and have jobs, and they have families and children, just like heterosexuals do.

Most of them are nice people, and some of them are jerks, just as with heterosexuals. So why would anyone state that two individuals who love each other should not enjoy the right to marry, and all of the benefits that come with marriage?

I will also respectfully submit that there is no tangible evidence, at all, that your god exists. You have a book and you have faith, and if that works for you, then I am happy for you. But I do not believe that your religious book or any other should be the basis for determining laws that affect real people. Let’s continue to keep church and state separate, please.

Douglas Broad, St. Louis Park

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What’s wrong with this picture?

Polls show that only 38 percent of Minnesotans approve the legalization of same-sex marriage, so it is hurriedly declared that Minnesotans maybe aren’t ready to take that step, and that legislative action may have to wait until another time — because there’s just a lack of popular support.

Polls show that 70 percent of Minnesotans — and 60 percent of gun owners — approve of universal background for all gun purchases, yet it is declared that legislative action is in trouble, and maybe we can’t pass such legislation at this time. And that is because … why?

Bob Guenter, St. Paul

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Yes, it’s admirable, but there’s more to story

My brother was born in 1962, severely affected by cerebral palsy. Today he is a college graduate, lives independently, and works as a journalist for his community newspaper.

He graduated with honors, due to his intellect, will and determination. He was able to attend that university in the first place because of a variety of government programs, from adapted public transport to classrooms built to accommodate wheelchairs, to electronic devices to help him be understood and record his notes, to curb cuts at intersections and automatic doors on most buildings, to an institution willing to adapt its programs for the disabled.

I agree with a March 1 letter writer (“Your destiny is yours; Uncle Sam won’t help”) that fire in your belly is important. So is a level playing field. When you are disabled, it is easy to see how government programs positively affect your life, but the truth is that we all, including the letter writer, benefit in many forms: clean drinking water, plowed streets, public safety. None of us should be so arrogant to believe that we can achieve success purely on our own.

Lisa Surber, Minneapolis

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The March 1 letter writer states: “President Obama believes that government is the answer to your dreams. Don’t fall for it. I am still waiting for Uncle Sam to bestow on me the rank of Eagle Scout and admittance to the millionaire class.”

This comment reflects the absurd interpretation many conservative or “antigovernment” people apply to reasonable efforts to organize and support a civil democracy. It is a silly leap. Neither Obama nor true progressives believe in or advocate for anything like what this man suggests. Concern about the absence of or loss of real opportunity for many in an increasingly class dominated and self-centered society is the motivator, not bestowed reward.

Patricia A. Krueger, St. Cloud

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Lynyrd Skynyrd

‘Sweet Home Alabama’ is often misinterpreted

A March 2 letter writer, urging the Minnesota Twins to stop playing Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” at Target Field, states that the song supports former Alabama Gov. George Wallace, a famed segregationist while in office. The song is ambiguous, so the letter writer’s reading is understandable and common, but many, including the song’s late lyricist, Ronnie Van Zant, would argue for a different interpretation.

The lines in question are: “In Birmingham they love the governor (boo boo boo)/Well, we all did what we could do.” Those boos sung by Van Zant and the African-American backing vocalists hired for the session are obviously negative, if initially hard to distinguish from oohs.

The pronouns seem important as well: In Birmingham they love the governor, while we young nonracists did, well, some vague thing in opposition. As the letter writer notes, the song was a response to Neil Young’s “Southern Man,” which to Van Zant seemed to condescendingly paint all white Southern men as violent racists.

“I thought Neil was shooting all the ducks to kill one or two,” Van Zant said later.

Dylan Hicks, Minneapolis

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Strange days indeed for enforcement …

Two articles in the March 8 Twin Cities+Region section caught my eye: “Her 2 votes now a felony case” and “What’s the best way to control strays?”

I have to chuckle to think that with all that’s going on in the grand state of Minnesota, both good and bad, we are arresting sweet 86-year-old ladies with Parkinson’s for mistakenly voting twice (really?) and arresting animal lovers for feeding stray cats in Minneapolis.

Does anyone else see the sick humor in this? We’re a society that has lost focus. Squirrel!!

Joe Churchill, Minnetonka