Opponents of constitutional amendments defining marriage as the union between a man and a woman deceptively argue: You can't use civil laws to force your religious views on others.
Hogwash! Marriage has been the basic unit of society since the beginning of man and was instituted not by a church, but by society. That churches consider it a religious rite does not make it unconstitutional, nor does it deprive anyone of any constitutional rights.
Society has determined that to qualify for a civil marriage (note the word civil not religious), the parties must be a man and a woman. Those who don't qualify are being denied no rights, just as an electrician turned down for a job as a plumber is denied no rights.
If you want something for which you do not qualify, tough cookie. The equal rights guarantee in our Constitution does not give us the right to be something or someone we are not. We have the right to try to become such, not the right to be such.
Society offers certain benefits to couples who marry because it is in society's interest to propagate itself. Homosexual marriages (civil unions or whatever) cannot naturally propagate society, hence society has neither an interest nor an obligation to give them any official recognition.
Don't let the anti-marriage mob get away with calling this a religious issue. It is a religious issue only within churches. In society, it's a societal issue and society has the right to determine the rules regarding it. Society has traditionally held marriage to be for members of the opposite sex. Nothing in the U.S. Constitution contradicts this.
Let's start cuts at the top
Well, we have bad news and worse, and it is almost Christmas. The governor says that all the state employees should share the pain of budget cuts he wants to start talks with the unions. I think he should start with the front office. The governor should be able to give up his salary for the rest of this fiscal year then take a 50 percent reduction for the coming biennium. His nonunion employees like commissioners and directors that are appointed and the other jobs that the executive branch hires could step up with 30 percent reductions and the governors' personal staff could take a 50 percent reduction lease him a Ford Focus which is a couple of years old and let him drive himself. Reduce his entertainment budget check him out a handgun and a bullet-proof vest give him an hour on the range to learn how to use it and send his security detail back to patrol duty. That would be a start on feeling the pain if you knew that your over-paid politically appointed boss had to take a reduction you might feel that you could too.
I heard that the minority leader in the Senate wasn't satisfied with the bridge loan to GM and Chrysler, because if they went into bankruptcy they could redo the contracts and maybe shed their retirement for the employees maybe we should shed some retirement costs for some senators and presidents we could reduce them for past retirees and eliminate them for those that retire after the first of Dec.11, 2008. I'll bet that Sen. McConnell won't jump on that even if a lot of this mess could be traced back to him and those like him that don't want regulation of business or markets.
JESSE NIX is secretary of the Crow Wing County DFL.
Republican base is shrinking
Gen. Colin Powell recently noted election results which show that the Republican Party is losing popularity with minorities such as Hispanic, Asians, and blacks. Collectively, these groups are expected to become the majority in the U.S. within a decade or so.
In my view, another problem for Republicans is their insistence that religious belief is somehow intrinsic to the essential nature of being human. We affirm every citizen's right to apply religious values to public policy states the Republican platform. Republican Gov. Huckabee wants to actually amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards, rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view. All this results in Republican faith-based litmus tests for public servants.
A new book by Phil Zuckerman, Society without God, reports on a study of differences between secular Scandinavia and the U.S. In Scandinavian countries, people live longer, have fewer illnesses, pay less for health care than we do, and are better educated. They have more personal leisure time, apparently live quite comfortably without emphasizing religion in their society, have far less crime, and report themselves much happier than we are. Oh, and they pay higher taxes than we do.
Another Republican theme is that government is the problem, and its services should be limited and funded by borrowing rather then by current tax revenues. All these positions are gradually reducing the party's base to the white population of the South, Appalachia, some mountain states, and the more fervent Christians elsewhere. That trend and our current reliance on massive federal government programs to deal with the economy, suggest a minority future for the GOP.
ROLF WESTGARD is an associate chair of the Crow Wing County DFL.
Let's repower America
Last week sobering news came out about America's job losses in what is now a confirmed recession.
With the Minnesota and the countries' rising unemployment rate, President-elect Obama has set a goal of creating new jobs, addressing our energy crisis and global warming, by investing in renewable, homegrown energy sources like wind and solar, energy efficiency and public transportation.
We have enormous untapped potential to power our country using the wind and sun. We can repower America with 100 percent clean energy, leave dirty and dangerous energy sources behind, and create good-paying jobs that will rebuild our economy. A study by the University of Massachusetts this fall found that a $100 billion investment in clean energy over the next two years, comparable to the stimulus rebate checks last spring, could generate 37,429 jobs here in Minnesota and 2 million jobs nationwide.
With bold and decisive action from President-elect Obama and congressional leaders like our own Rep. Oberstar, we can repower America and rebuild the economy at the same time.
SAMANTHA CHADWICK is a fellow with Environment Minnesota.
Cancellation wasn't necessary
On Nov. 20, I e-mailed the Heartland Symphony Orchestra regarding a partial season ticket request. I never received a response.
Friday Dec. 12, I purchased a single ticket at the Brainerd Dispatch for the concert on Saturday evening. I showed up at 7 p.m. at Tornstrom to a darkened building and a note on the front door stating that the concert was canceled. Apparently it was because of the weather according to their Web site. But the weather was fine until much later that night. I had to look at my driver's license to be sure I really was in Minnesota and not Georgia. I have never heard of an event in Minnesota being canceled like this because of a potential storm sometime later that evening. In fact, even the Brainerd schools are in session during and after many snowstorms.
If this orchestra wants to be a viable organization, it needs to work on communication and professionalism. Perhaps the lack of response to my inquiry about a partial season ticket worked out best - I am not sure I even want to attend another of their concerts. Maybe they will cancel their spring concert due to the forecast of heavy rain and wind.
True compassion is displayed
During this special time of the year, I want to share with you a few of the wonderful area happenings I have personally witnessed. I have attended many community events from Nisswa to Brainerd and Baxter, to Crosby and Ironton. Time and time again, I experienced the true meaning of this time of year giving to others. I have seen people volunteering for a fundraiser for the soup kitchen, and I saw people giving their time, talents and treasures to raise money for a very important cause, ending child abuse. I saw many people working together for long hours to put on remarkable Christmas community celebrations for everyone to enjoy. I witnessed the joy of people serving a holiday meal and the happiness experienced by the people to whom the meal was served, many who didn't know whether they would even have a warm and nutritious holiday meal.
I see many groups and citizens ringing bells, donating toys and food items, collecting coats, boots and mittens and so much more. During a time when many could say, I can't give to others due to my own personal circumstance, I have seen just the opposite - true compassion, sacrifice, and love for our fellow citizens. Thank you to all who have given so much to others and have shown the true meaning of this special season. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all.
Corruption and responsibility
We, the people, are responsible for the corruption of our leaders by failing to demand a higher standard of conduct from our politicians. Increasingly, Americans have grown accustomed to a culture characterized by moral relativism and individualism. We have mocked Judeo-Christian values - humility, virtue, honor - and in the process, eroded restraints on social conduct. The results have become painfully obvious in the business arena and are becoming increasingly obvious in the political arena. When we do not demand honor, virtue and accountability from ourselves, can we really expect more from our leaders? Have we merely gotten the leaders we deserve? The path to reform in the political arena runs straight through the people. We must first find a renewed appreciation for virtue, honest and humility in ourselves and our fellow man. If private virtue is reestablished in society, it will eventually become public and inevitably find its way back to the halls of government. Quite simply, it is up to us.
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