News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion

January 18, 2014

Readers’ Forum: Jan. 19, 2014

Equality is all that we ask for

“We’re here! We’re queer! Get used to it!"

That has been a slogan the LGBT community has long used at rallies, parades and other public gatherings in the fight for equality under the law.

Now it seems the majority of Americans have “gotten used to us.” People really have no way to avoid us, the LGBT community. We’re on television shows, talk shows, radio, movies and every other aspect of daily life here in the United States. Yet prejudices against us are equally present in all forms. Hatred hidden behind the First Amendment and religious beliefs flood social media and are hot-button topics on all news sources throughout the country. A country founded on the principle that “All men are created equal.”

Equal? Really? I have had to endure years of bullying, threats and attacks on my morality and character simply because I was born gay and choose to live my life openly and honestly. It has been my experience that people have no problem with gays as long as we make them laugh, make them look pretty, design fabulous houses and keep our mouths shut about wanting to be treated with dignity and respect.

But once we start wanting the same civil and fundamental rights others have, then we are asking for “special” rights.

Now the leaders of our state have the chance to prove that they believe we are all created equal by striking down HJR-3 and overturning the law about the definition of marriage in Indiana. I so sincerely hope they listen to the companies, universities, colleges and thousands of Hoosiers who believe there is no need for a constitutional ban against same-sex marriage.

But, like most politicians, I believe they will pass the bill and send it to the voters in November so they can feel better about their own prejudices. If this happens, I believe the voters will not allow this to come to fruition. If they do amend the state constitution, then I will seriously consider whether or not I can continue to live, work and pay taxes in a state that views me as a second-class citizen.

Perhaps LGBT needs a new slogan? “We’re here! We’re queer! And we’re not going to take it anymore!”

— Neil Ward, Terre Haute

Bishop does not speak for church

I am a member of a United Methodist congregation in Indiana and a leader in a denomination-wide caucus group of conservative, evangelical United Methodists.  

In response to the recent statement in the Jan. 4 Readers’ Forum signed by my bishop, Michael Coyner, among other lefty religious leaders, I was hoping that you would be so kind as to later run this letter from me:

I have long appreciated many refreshingly helpful aspects of how Bishop Michael Coyner has led Indiana United Methodism.

Thus I was all the more disappointed to see him so publicly and unhelpfully seek to align Indiana United Methodism with rapidly declining, secularized “oldline” Protestant denominations in opposing Indiana’s proposed marriage amendment. In a separate statement from the joint open letter, Bishop Coyner made clear that his objection was not just to the specific wording of HJR-3, but rather to the whole idea of any limiting governmental definition of marriage.

Regardless of Bishop Coyner’s personal opinions, the official position of the United Methodist Church explicitly states: “We support laws in civil society that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” The judicial activism of recent years has made it clear that such traditional marriage-definition laws are secure at neither the state nor federal level unless and until they are upgraded to the level of constitutional amendment.

It is hardly a secret that the UMC includes a very vocal (although demonstrably shrinking) minority who reject historic, biblical Christian teaching on marriage. But out of all of our denomination’s various statements and policies related to homosexuality, our support for such “laws in civil society” has garnered the most support at our denomination’s governing General Conferences. This stance is likely much more strongly supported by United Methodists in Indiana than in many other parts of the country.

Our support for marriage-protection laws is not driven by animosity against our own friends and loved ones who pursue less traditional relationships. Rather, it comes from sincere concern over the many ways in which the common good is harmed when inevitable legal regulations of relationships devalue or fundamentally redefine marriage while actively incentivizing alternative arrangements.

Additionally, the objective reality is that in states that have legally promoted same-sex unions of various sorts, coercive government force has been used to punish and threaten small business owners and even church-affiliated institutions whose only crime was adhering to traditional religious teachings about sexual boundaries.

I respect Bishop Coyner as a kind, intelligent and duly appointed leader of my church. I simply wanted to set the record straight that his recent statements against HJR-3 contradict both the official position of the United Methodist Church and the views of a great many United Methodists in Indiana.  

— John Lomperis, director UMAction program of the Institute on Religion and Democracy

Marital choice a personal decision

Rep. Alan Morrison publicly announced that he is pro HJR-6. Below is a letter I sent to him in response to his announcement:

I am a Terre Haute resident, a U.S. citizen and a taxpayer. I also have a B.S. in Physics and Juris Doctor. If you are impressed by my credentials, what if I told you I am a Pacific-Asian? Does that change your opinion of me? What if I told you that I am a lesbian? Has your opinion of me changed yet? Based on your stance on HJR-6, I will assume your opinion of me has changed based on this one fact.

Being of Asian descent, I have been discriminated against by white people early in my life. At the age of 5, I was spat on by little boys because I was someone they had never encountered before; I was different. Due to their ignorance, they inflicted hurt on me based simply on how I looked and whatever preconceived notions they had about Asians. This experience is something I will never forget. No 5-year-old should have to endure such cruel treatment.

In a non-discriminatory world, as well as a discriminatory world, a 5-year-old is a 5-year-old, regardless of race, color, religion, sex or sexual orientation. He or she has unalienable rights that simply are wrong to violate. I am sure this is the consensus anywhere you go.

As an adult, I am faced again with discrimination. Now, others spit on me because of who I choose to marry. In the U. S. I can choose to marry anyone who is of the same or different race, color or religion. There are no limitations or requirements with respect to these marriages. However, the State of Indiana is now considering banning my ability to marry if I choose to marry someone of the same sex. This ban is not based on any harm that may be done to the human genome if I were to marry someone of the same sex. The ban is based on a religious belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

In essence, government is imposing a sole religious belief on its people based on biblical passages. Where did government get this power to create laws based simply on religious beliefs? I don’t think this power is included in any state constitution. In fact, the U. S. Constitution bans such laws.

Who I choose to marry is a decision that should be left to me and only me. No government has a place in making such a personal decision.

HJR-6 is an attempt by Indiana government, for no other reason than religious, to take away some inalienable rights from the people of Indiana. I am no longer a 5-year-old, but I continue to have unalienable rights — rights that must be protected, not just for me but for every living soul on this earth.

Yes, let the people decide who they want to marry, not by political majority vote, but individually. Government has no place in such a personal matter.

— Mary Rose Silva, Terre Haute

Appreciation for removing snow

It is amazing to me how people act in different areas of the country.

We lived in the Orlando, Fla., area for several years. Our doors had double locks, windows had special locking fasteners, we never ever went out after dark, and we never talked to strangers (a large percent were not understandable any way). Our car was locked even if in a locked garage.

Flash forward to today in southern Illinois.

Early one recent snowy morning, I started to shovel a single track from the garage to the street. About a fourth of the way done, I went into the house to take a break. A couple of hours later, I went back outside and found all of my driveway was cleared of snow.

Who did it? I don’t know. Whoever you are, a couple of very thankful old people say, God bless. Figuratively speaking, in some of the big O’s neighborhoods they would probably have cleaned out the garage instead of the snow.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Florida retirees and people there who work for a living are some of the nicest people I have ever known. The problem seems to be that the nice people were outnumbered.

— Sam Wallace, Casey, Ill.

Volunteer to travel with a vet

Are you a veteran? Do you know veterans? Without a doubt, one of the most incredible experiences these heroes can have is to travel all expenses paid to Washington, D.C., for a day to see and reflect at their respective memorials, Arlington National Cemetery, and other monuments. These trips are organized and facilitated through the Honor Flight Network, a non-profit organization whose mission is to honor America’s veterans for all their sacrifices.

My father, Herb Krauch, is a WWII veteran and I had the privilege of serving as his guardian when he traveled to our nation’s capital with the Lafayette Gold Star Mothers chapter of the Honor Flight Network. While Dad’s and other veterans’ ways were paid through the chapter’s many fundraising efforts, the volunteer guardians pay their own way.

The 14-hour day began with celebrating and ended with celebrating. Participants are fed well all day long, are transported via deluxe motor coaches through D.C., and veterans are heralded and blessed beyond measure. Additional wheelchairs are also available throughout the day.

The initial trips were created to make sure WWII vets could experience the eventful day and now other veteran trips are being scheduled chronologically according to the conflict they were in. The Indiana honor flights are currently taking applications for WWII and Korean veterans.

If you are looking for a way to make a difference in the life of someone, volunteer to be a guardian for a veteran on an honor flight. You can travel with a family member or friend who is a veteran or offer to help someone you’ve never met. You’re certain to become dedicated friends from the trip.

Indiana’s Honor Flights are based in Indianapolis, Lafayette and Fort Wayne. For more information, go to www.indyhonorflights.org, www.lafayettegoldstarmothers.org, and www.hfnei.org.

My trip with Dad was the best father-daughter date I’ve ever had.

— Susan Hayhurst, Terre Haute

Stirring hatred against Muslims

Marilyn Dudley’s Jan. 12 letter seeks to delegitimize Islam as a religion and, therefore, delegitimize the existence of 1.5 billion Muslims and 57 Islamic nations of the world. Dudley and her ilk should read the best-selling author, Reza Aslan’s book, “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth” in which the author explains how he converted to Christianity at a young age, did a lot of research and then reverted to Islam.

Arnoud van Doorn, a former member of the Dutch right-wing Freedom Party, recently converted to Islam, regretting his contribution to the production of the Dutch anti-prophet film. Muslim reactions against the anti-Islam film induced him to seek the truth about Islam. The fact is that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world.

Is the purpose of letters like Dudley’s to generate anger among the crazy people?

An article in Jan. 6 issue of Toledo Blade mentions that in 2012, a man was arrested in Indiana for setting fire in the prayer hall area of Islamic Center of Perrysberg Township in Toledo, Ohio. He admitted that it was the hatred of Islam that led him to this criminal act.

Fortunately, the world is not guided by the likes of arsonists and letter writers of hate. In December, many people including prosecuting attorneys, police and fire chiefs and members of the interfaith community gathered at the site after the restoration of the masjid by the locals was completed. Upholding the law and promotion of American values was emphasized by authorities and the interfaith community.

The local construction workers handled the damaged Qura’ns with respect and sensitivity.

The arsonist was given a 20-year prison sentence by the court.

The case in Toledo was not an isolated incident. Numerous attacks on masjids, on women wearing hijab and Sikhs (mistaken for being Muslim) have taken place in many states. The abuse of free speech should not be acceptable to the editors of newspapers.

— Khwaja  A.  Hasan, formerly of Terre Haute, Kissimme, Fla.

More harm than meets the eye

On Jan. 16, Charles Bean had a letter published where he portrayed same-sex marriage as harmless. Apparently he is not aware that photographers and bakers of wedding cakes in other states have been sued for trying to avoid using their business to support same-sex marriage. Failure to do so could force them out of business.  

Likewise, members of our military are being told to keep negative opinions about same-sex marriage to themselves or face consequences. It sure sounds like someone’s morality is being forced on other people. It doesn’t seem to matter that such negative opinions are based on deeply held religious beliefs.

It is only a matter of time before ministers will be told what they can and cannot preach in their pulpits.

— Con McDonald

Terre Haute

Fearmongers

proved wrong

In 2007, fearmongers at the BBC warned us that by summer 2013, Antarctica would be ice-free. But scientists report that Antarctica is sporting record levels of ice and is at a 35-year high when it comes to the slick stuff.

Undeterred, some climate scientists and like-minded journalists embarked on a voyage to Antarctica in search of, among other things, melting ice. Instead, the warmists were shocked to discover the place had frosted up faster than Michelle Obama watching President Obama schmoozing with the Danish prime minister.

In one of life’s delicious ironies, these scientists and their media lackeys had to be rescued by helicopter after their boat became stuck in thick ice. Perhaps the problem for the hockey stick herd is that they are holding the stick upside down.

Chris Turney, a climate scientist and leader of the expedition, was going to document “environmental changes” at the pole. In an interview prior to his trek to Antarctica, he said he expected melting ice to play a part in the expedition.

Poor Turney, it seems he failed to check the facts. NASA’s satellites have been measuring global temperatures for 35 years, including the Antarctic. During that time there has actually been a slight cooling trend while the Antarctic sea ice has grown to a record amount. This is at stark variance with the BBC and IPCC’s hysterics about dangerous polar warming.

One wonders why these “scientists” were surprised when the highest measurement for Antarctic sea ice was set on Oct. 1, 2013. Admittedly, “there has been some slight warming in the area of the Antarctica Peninsula but the huge mass of ice sheets are located in East and West Antarctica, which measurements show to be cooling,” reports cfact.org.

Undaunted, Mr. Turney remained adamant that sea ice is melting even as his boat remained trapped in frozen seas. This is fodder for SNL. (You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried.)

“Sea ice is disappearing due to climate change, but here ice is building up,” the Antarctic Expedition said in a statement.

Mr. Turney explained that “climate change may have prompted the iceberg to shatter and float into the previously open sea where the mostly Australian team finds itself stranded … We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Turney has a peculiar penchant for self-parody while blowing more smoke than a Rastafarian’s death rattle. In 2007 we were told global warming meant less ice around Antarctica. In 2013 we were told global warming meant more ice around Antarctica. Less ice, more ice, whatever: It’s global warming.

Professor Roger Pielke, Jr. sums it up nicely: “So a warming Antarctica and a cooling Antarctica are both ‘consistent with’ model projections of global warming. Our foray into the tortured logic of ‘consistent with’ in climate science raises the perennial question, what observations of the climate system would be inconsistent with the model predictions?”

And what about those global warming models that environmentalists are always yammering about, are they accurate? Not so much. As one climate scientist patiently pointed out: “Anyone familiar with Antarctic sea ice knows it has been at or near record expansion the past several years and global warming models have mostly predicted reduced Antarctic sea ice allegedly due to global warming.” Ouch.

David Rose reports that “Some eminent scientists now believe the world is heading for a period of cooling that will not end until the middle of this century — a process that would expose computer forecasts of imminent catastrophic warming as dangerously misleading.”

So what’s the fearmongers’ reaction to all of this? Mr. Rose reports that “some scientists forecast an imminent ice age.”

As I said, you can’t make this up.

— Reggie McConnell, Terre Haute

Educate people about ER overuse

After visiting the emergency room twice in the last few weeks for admission to a local hospital, the ER was very, very busy. I asked the nurse how many of the persons waiting should be visiting their primary physician or urgent care. She estimated about 70 percent.

It occurred to both of us that education by news media and insurance companies is sorely needed for those who have insurance to not overload the ER with non-ER illnesses or injuries.

Everyone now should be able to be insured. It’s not like the old days, thank heavens.  

Health costs and care and quality do not now require visits to the ER for coverage or every incident. Let’s keep the costs down by getting the word out.

— John Schleter, Brooklyn Park, Minn.

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