Emotions high as issue nears a likely resolution

My wife and I are married in our hearts, in our synagogue and in the state of Iowa. We hope to soon be seen as married in our home here in Minnesota, too. We urge the Senate to recognize our relationships and to do the right thing by voting for equality and justice today.

Sandra Levine, Minneapolis

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As parents with a beloved gay son, we want to thank all the legislators who are voting “yes” for his freedom to marry. We know this vote will be a difficult one for many of the legislators. It makes our gratitude that much greater.

Randi and Philip Reitan, Eden Prairie

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All you legislators who call yourselves Christians who voted to change the definition of marriage — you are Christians no longer. God defined marriage as between one man and one woman. Evidently, you consider yourselves above God by changing the definition. Shame on you, and may God have mercy on your souls.

And, you definitely will not have my vote when you come up for re-election!

Andy Pakalns, St. Paul

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How interesting that it was the opponents of same-sex marriage who sang “Amazing Grace,” when it was the supporters who really knew the meaning of such grace!

Ronald A. Nelson, Minneapolis

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If gays want to get married, let them, but with all the attention the Star Tribune and our state Legislature have given to same-sex marriage, you’d think that this is the most important issue confronting us today. Pollution, billions in debt, a decaying infrastructure, homelessness, poverty, etc. — all seem to be of less importance considering the amount of space devoted to this issue. While Rome is burning, will you quit your fiddling?

DAVE RAND, Minneapolis

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One of the great traditions in hockey is the handshake at the end of the game. No matter who wins or loses, despite a hard-fought game or playoff series, both teams line up and shake hands. It’s a show of respect for whom you just played against, by looking your opponent in the eye.

Whatever the outcome of the marriage vote today in the Minnesota Senate, I will applaud not who “won” or “lost” but who will look their opponents in the eye and shake their hands. Now that would make this Minnesotan proud.

Jason Wittak, Maple Grove

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Labor should think twice about opposing

Why is there no objection to taxes that cover everyone in all classes to pay for playgrounds for the wealthy (“A DFL plan labor can’t swallow,” May 10)? Where is the objection to taxes for boondoggle projects? To taxes on necessities such as clothing and services that would affect the poor and working class the most?

A tax on alcohol, just as on cigarettes, affects only those who choose to consume these products. Alcohol, when abused, destroys families and lives, just as cigarette smoking does.

I am a union member, and believe strongly in the labor movement, but I respectfully disagree with the position taken in this article on not taxing alcohol and sincerely hope that alcohol is not the heart of the middle class.

Dennis A. Johnson, Fridley

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Digging deeper on price disparities

An additional point to the excellent analysis on variations in health care provider prices in Minnesota, (“Hospital prices show wild variations,” May 9) is that the high average payments for almost all procedures are coming from only six of 50 hospitals. I analyzed the 2011 Medicare provider data for Minnesota.

For each of the 100 procedures in the data set, I calculated “excess” revenues based on the difference between the average payment to the particular provider and average payment across all providers in Minnesota. Only six hospitals account for nearly all of the $60 million of excess revenues thus calculated. These excess revenues are offset by 10 hospitals who consistently take in below-average payments for nearly all procedures, thus accounting for the “wild variations.”

This variation across providers rather than procedures could be similar to the situation in which socks and T-shirts at Nordstrom are typically priced higher than socks and T-shirts at J.C. Penney. However, this calls for transparency not only of price but also quality of procedures. Therefore, the six providers who may need to justify their higher charges and excess revenues with greater value for patients are: The University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview; Mayo Clinic-Saint Marys Hospital; the Hennepin County Medical Center; Regions Hospital; Mayo Clinic-Methodist Hospital, and St. Cloud Hospital.

Navdeep Sodhi, Maple Grove