From news and history, things to think about


When we go to the polls this November, we should not be asking "am I better of now than I was four years ago?" Instead, we should be asking is my neighbor better off now than four years ago, or is my community better off, or even is my country better off? We need to remove the "me, myself, and I" aspect and look at the bigger picture.


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The leaders of the company that manufactured the steroid drug responsible for 15 deaths and 214 illnesses linked to fungal meningitis knew that they were not licensed to sell the drug in bulk. But they did it anyway. Why? Because they could get away with it, and the sales were profitable. This is what having less government regulation looks like -- something to think about when we go to the polls in November.


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I'm astounded that so many people continue to carp about the Obama administration's initial misreporting of the Benghazi attack based on inaccurate intelligence. This can be compared to the faulty intelligence that led us into the Iraq war -- the difference being that no action was taken by the Obama administration until the situation was clarified, which illustrates why it's crucial that it not be replaced by one that could hastily take drastic measures at the first sign of trouble.


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I just read a book by Stephen Mansfield called, "Never Give In: The Extraordinary Life of Winston Churchill." There was one paragraph that I feel describes our culture today:

"One of the signs of a great society is the diligence with which it passes culture from one generation to the next. This culture is the embodiment of everything the people of that society hold dear; its religious faith, its heroes, and its traditions, arts and ceremonies. When one generation no longer esteems its own heritage and fails to pass the torch to its children, it is saying in essence that the very foundational principles and experiences that make the society what it is are no longer valid. This, of course, leaves that next generation without any sense of definition or direction, making them the fulfillment of Karl Marx's dictum, "A people without a heritage are easily persuaded."

I think each of us as American citizens need to think on this truth.


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Partner in the ER -- will a visit be allowed?


This week, when I got the call that my partner had been hit by a car on her morning run and had been taken to the hospital, my immediate thought was to hope so, so much that she would be OK. My next thought was to wonder if I would be allowed into the ER to see her. She later told me that she worried about the exact same thing.

Thankfully, I was allowed, and, thankfully, she limped away with just a few nasty bruises. But the fact that my immediate concern was about whether or not I would be allowed access to her simply because we are a gay couple -- in what was an extremely vulnerable moment when the love and care people share really needs to shine -- demonstrates just one of the symbolic stakes for this November's anti-marriage amendment.

Though voting no will do absolutely nothing to change relationship recognition for same-sex couples in Minnesota, it will help people like me and my partner feel as if Minnesotans gathered, en masse, to protect us from a hateful amendment advanced by outside interests that has nothing to do with the separation of church and state, but has everything to do with real people who want to care and support each other. In that way, we are similar to any other couple you might know. I urge voters to do the compassionate thing and vote no this November.


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Now that the man behind adding the marriage restriction amendment, Michael Brodkorb, has said he's going to vote against it and has admitted that it was a strategy to get Republican voters to the polls, can we stop pretending that adding a constitutional amendment on top of an existing law is about "protecting" anything?


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I am a former Lutheran pastor who felt blessed to be invited to perform a number of marriages. A wedding always struck me as a holy day, and I firmly believe that all true love comes from our God. I feel that our creator weeps that leaders and others in faith communities loudly support constitutional amendments blocking certain loving couples from experiencing the joy of a wedding ceremony and deciding that one kind of love is unacceptable, even sinful.

Since so much of the opposition to gay marriage seems to hinge on religious arguments, it is time to remove the legal binding of marriage from the church and make all marriages civil unions. If a congregation wants to celebrate and consecrate a marriage, it can do so. Thus that particular community can decide which marriages it wishes to support by throwing a party. But the clergy should no longer be looked to as an extension of the state. We don't ask other professions to provide legal services -- the local barber does not provide driver's licenses, nor does the bank teller settle property disputes. And while "we've always done it that way," it is only by separating the legality of marriage from the religious ceremony that all might share in "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."