THERE IS NO IN BETWEEN IN EQUALITY
Rev. John Heidel's Jan. 27 commentary was a well-meaning but flawed effort to bridge the chasm between those who demand equality under the law and those who seek to preserve the special rights and privileges of the heterosexual majority. He correctly acknowledges that civil unions are not equivalent to marriage. However, he obfuscates by claiming that because civil unions, as opposed to marriage, are open to all, no discrimination exists. It is intellectually dishonest to suggest that relegating gays to civil unions while permitting heterosexuals to marry represents anything other than the resurrection of the discredited Jim Crow principle of "Separate but Equal." Rev. Heidel confuses the right to obtain a state-issued civil marriage license with the religious rites of marriage. The former entails recognition by the government and carries over a thousand rights, protections and benefits and should be available to all citizens. The latter is administered by the various religions and, notwithstanding their personal and spiritual symbolism, carry no legal weight. The fundamental problem here is that equality either exists, or it doesn't; there is no in between.
PETER DUNN-AURELLO | Hilo, Hawaii
SOME OHANA WILL ALWAYS BE 2ND-CLASS
We are law-abiding citizens. We work full time. We pay our taxes. We volunteer. We run a business. We donate to charity. We are drug-free.
We help raise our 15-year-old niece. We are full-time caregivers for our 87-year-old Dad. We support our friends' keiki fundraising efforts. We have hosted baby showers, wedding showers and keiki birthday parties. We are Christian. We believe in God. We treat all with dignity and respect. We understand, embrace and live "family values." We are, in every shape and form, a true ohana. But in Hawaii, whether or not the civil-unions bill passes, we will always be second-class citizens.
JIM CROWELL | Wailuku, Maui
KELI'I BROWN | Wailuku, Maui
STATE OF THE STATE
LEGISLATURE MUST ACT DECISIVELY THIS TERM
Congratulations to Gov. Linda Lingle on a particularly good State of the State address.
The hallmark of her governing has been and continues to be that she cares deeply for Hawaii and its citizens. Achievements such as building homeless shelters and introducing STEM and robotics programs in the schools will be a large part of her legacy. But, as she said, there is still much to be done.
In the midst of the worst economic crisis Hawaii has experienced, we need the Legislature to put aside political posturing and show that they too care about the people of Hawaii, so that they act decisively to pass the governor's initiatives into laws that will benefit the people they were elected to serve.
ANNE SABALASKE | Honolulu
HSTAPAY CUT CAN END FURLOUGH DAYS
Use the rainy day fund for social programs, not teacher salaries to end furloughs. The money in the fund will only cover part of the furlough days.
It is better used to help those in our society who need it the most. To end the furloughs, the HSTA should follow the lead of UHPA: Take a pay cut and recognize that education is a priority. The state will make up for the pay cut later, making it harder to meet our financial needs in the future.
Still, it is the best that we can do now because we didn't prepare for bad times.
Gov. Linda Lingle's proposal to require funding of a fiscal stabilization fund when tax revenues are growing is a good idea that is long overdue. But only 5 percent of a yearly surplus is too small. Government needs a healthy fiscal stabilization fund to make up for lower tax revenues, to stimulate the economy, and ease the pain in a recession. It would be foolish to require individuals and families to spend all their income and live paycheck to paycheck with no savings. So why has the state government been doing that?
Let's be ready next time.
BURT FURUTA | Honolulu