CIVIL UNIONS

Opponents, listen up

Thank you, Jacob Reitan, for once again applying logic and compassion in support of legalized gay marriage ("Civil unions: Separate is not equal," Dec. 7). Yet within the context of the article, I fear that those who need to hear the message most are those most likely to ignore your words.

Since the early days of our fight for recognition and legitimacy, one argument often used is gay people's supposed promiscuity and "lack of control." Well, one effective antidote is for both members in a long-term, loving relationship to have a legal stake in the game. Sounds like marriage to me, though it will likely fall on deaf ears.

Logic dictates that our opponents can't have it both ways. Oh, wait, I think we found the problem here ...

SHANNON O'NEIL, MINNETONKA

Rights and rings

No, Jacob, separate is not equal -- nor is it meant to be. The true separation to consider should not be that of gay vs. straight but rather that of church vs. state. If the state is to grant separate rights to couples in unions, then the state should also enact those unions -- equally. Empowering the church to act on behalf of the state flies in the face of their separateness.

Couples' rights can be conferred by the state; the sacrament of marriage can stay in the church.

Constitutions exist to protect the rights of minorities from their suppression by majorities, not the other way around.

MARGARET WEBSTER, MINNEAPOLIS

ENERGY INDEPENDENCE

An appeal to Coleman

While the United States is certainly out of step with many nations in the world on addressing global warming ("U.S. stance on global warming is under fire," Dec. 7), there is a chance that real progress could be made in Congress. Last week, Reps. Jim Ramstad, Betty McCollum and Keith Ellison, and Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Norm Coleman, demonstrated their commitment to our state's environment and economy by voting in favor of the Energy Independence and Security Act, a bill that would take a big step toward cutting America's global warming pollution by creating a national renewable electricity standard and raising gas mileage standards for cars and trucks.

A goal of 15 percent renewable energy by 2020 and an increase in gas mileage to 35 miles per gallon would lead to a reduction in global warming pollution that would be equivalent to taking 48 million cars off of the road nationwide.

Unfortunately, while the bill did gain the necessary number of votes in the House, a minority of Republican senators blocked progress on energy and the bill failed to reach the 60-vote hurdle in the Senate. Luckily, the Senate is expected to vote on a revised version of the bill this week.

Coleman has the opportunity to deliver on a clean-energy future for Minnesota by urging his fellow senators to drop their opposition to this bill and to show the rest of the world that America is committed to solving global warming.

PAUL COLE, ST. PAUL

CANDIDATES AND RELIGION

Questions for Romney

A distinction should be made between those religious beliefs of a candidate that are irrelevant to his ability to perform properly in office and those that will directly affect his performance.

I have no problem with a candidate who believes that sinners will be banned from heaven, that God does not want him to drink coffee or wine, that God has a physical body, that God lives on a distant plane or that he must know the secret passwords to get into heaven (all teachings of Mormonism). Even though I may hold different beliefs, I do not consider anyone holding such beliefs to be therefore unqualified for any office.

However, if a candidate believes that God wants him to use civil authority to stamp out what contradicts his ideas of morality, or that through prayer he can get God to step in and help him solve the problems of governing, or that his particular sacred book holds the best answers to society's problems, or that he is bound by the secret oath of allegiance he has taken to obey his church leaders (whom he views as prophets of God) -- that candidate should be questioned on those beliefs, and as a voter I have a right to know that he holds those beliefs. And I cannot see that it is bigotry for me to vote against him because of them.

Romney has yet to touch on any of those troublesome beliefs, and his speech in Texas carefully avoided them all.

RICHARD PACKHAM, ROSEBURG, ORE.

GOVERNMENT STAY OUT

If it benefits me

I read with much interest the Dec. 9 article "Paul's appeal is many-faceted." Although there were many comments by Ron Paul supporters, two that jumped out at me were from the pharmacist from Hampton, Iowa, and the young lady from Chicago who currently lives in Des Moines

Both people indicated they want the government out of "my life." I can only assume these people do not want any governmental regulation where they are personally concerned. If the young lady were to ask the pharmacist to fill a prescription for her, she would probably want the pharmacist to have the government-required credentials to dispense the correct medication. No doubt the pharmacist would prefer the young lady have the government-required credentials to operate an automobile and to do so in a safe manner.

Where does government and regulation begin and end? With the government out of "my life," I could drive as fast as I want, shoot as many deer as I want, even start my own pharmacy if I want, although I am not a governmentally registered pharmacist. The things I could do would be limitless. If Ron Paul can establish a system where I will not be regulated and government will stay out of my life and everyone else will be regulated to my advantage, he will certainly have my support.

RONALD E. BEST, HUTCHINSON, MINN.

VOTING TEST

Did you abstain?

Let's have a simple rule on voting on abstinence-only sex education. Only if you practiced abstinence yourself may you vote for it or veto any law that doesn't try to enforce it. All those in favor, say "Aye!"

FRED E. HAHN, GOLDEN VALLEY