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"Gay debate' is about morality, not civil rights

Re: Similar struggles? Gay rights & civil rights,

Jan. 18.

I believe the Rev. Richard Bennett Jr., quoted in your article, said it best: that "Dr. King would be "outraged' at efforts to link gay rights advocacy with the black civil rights struggle."

To suggest that "bigotry" toward gays exists today as bigotry existed against blacks during the civil rights struggle is a shameful parallel for the St. Petersburg Times to draw, particularly on MLK weekend. This comparison minimizes the black struggle. The Times owes the legacy of Dr. King an apology. As a Christian preacher of the Gospel, Dr. King could not have endorsed the homosexual lifestyle but would have certainly shown compassion, as would other Christians (of all races) toward those taking that path.

Attempts to disparage as bigots those who point out the immorality of homosexuality are misplaced and merely part of a plan to attempt to legitimize behavior that is simply not legitimate and is, in fact, inherently immoral. Bigotry can only apply when one is disliked (or even hated) due to factors outside of one's control. Racial bigotry is the obvious example against which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. rightly led the fight. However, there can be no legitimate claim of bigotry when the debate is based on a difference in values, character and/or moral behavioral choices. Attempting to disguise bad behavior by labeling the behavior as acceptable does not change the fact that the behavior is wrong or immoral.

One cannot control being born of any particular race. However, one can control moral choices. Identical twin studies make it clear that, with the same DNA, sometimes one twin chooses a homosexual lifestyle and the other does not. There are many ministry and self-help groups with countless testimonials of persons who have chosen to turn away from the gay lifestyle to a heterosexual lifestyle and were not prevented from doing so because they were supposedly "born gay."

The term "gay marriage" itself is an oxymoron since marriage, by definition and inherent nature, is a union between a man and a woman. Improper moral behavior will likely never cease in the human race as we know it on this earth. However, it would be just as inappropriate for the state to sanction a gay relationship as "marriage" as it would for the state to sanction other immoral acts or nontraditional "marriage union proposals" such as polygamy or bigamy. What about those who desire to be involved with incestuous relationships or a bisexual man who would like to marry both a man and a woman? The government (you and I) should not sanction these types of blatantly immoral actions with a stamp of approval, i.e., in the form of a marriage license.

The bottom line is that the "gay debate" is a moral issue and not a civil rights issue. This is not an issue of equality; it is an issue of right and wrong.

James M. Hammond, Dunedin

Rejecting the homosexual agenda

Re: Equal citizens all, letter, Jan. 25.

I almost choked on the air I was breathing when I read the letter writer's assertion that "Homosexuals are no different than African-Americans."

A dark part of our country's history is the mistreatment of African-American citizens (which is still overtly practiced even in our day). I personally can't see how anyone can relate the cause of the homosexual community to that of African-Americans. We were barred from lunch counters, public restrooms, etc. due to attitudes of hate _ plain and simple. The beatings and second-class status were motivated by hate and so was everything else that was intended to keep African-Americans from enjoying the same rights as everyone else.

The stances that Christians take against the homosexual agenda are not motivated by hate but by a love for what is moral and right. Yes, we are all created equal; equally loved in God's sight and equal in our ability to choose to do what is right. For the most part, we just don't all make the right choices and live our lives according to God's plan. Don't get me wrong, violence against anyone different from you is wrong, and yes I do believe that people choose the homosexual lifestyle. Why? Because credible, reliable proof for its genetics or anything else we have no control over has not and cannot be offered.

For the Christian, hate is not an option if he is truly trying to follow Christ's perfect example of love. That perfect example also includes standing for the right and working toward it for the betterment of the society. I do not hate homosexuals, I just refuse to accept the advancement of their agenda based on what the Bible says.

Why are Christians so up in arms about the homosexual agenda? Because it's being shoved down our throats from everywhere, and it's moving forward with sinister success. Before long, the government is going to try to force us to believe what's right and what's wrong, and that's something they just cannot accomplish because we choose to believe and do what is right in God's sight.

Shelly Gainous Jr., TampaTraditions can be problematic

There are those who would burden our Constitution with an amendment to define marriage consistent with Judeo-Christian traditions. Will the amendment include provisions for the tradition of stoning to death a wife who commits adultery?

Donald H. Barnhill, Trinity

A step in the right direction

Re: A disappointing trend toward the left, letter,

Jan. 27.

The letter writer states that he is disappointed by the St. Petersburg Times for publishing the announcement of same-sex unions. I say kudos to the Times! I feel the same argument could be made toward the Bush administration's disappointing trend to the right! So much for the compassionate conservative!

Where would we be today if segments of society and individuals had not taken an "unpopular" stance on issues of social discrimination? What if Susan B. Anthony had never demanded the right to vote? What if Abraham Lincoln had never mustered up the courage to say that slavery is wrong, that all men are created equal and one should never "own" another? What if Martin Luther King Jr. never demanded civil rights, or Rosa Parks had continued to sit in the back of the bus?

When I read our history and study the successes and failures we have endured, I realize how far we have come as a country. When I listen to the Bush administration's efforts to divide us by suppressing the rights of those whose sexual orientation is different from the majority of us, I'm reminded of how far we have to go. Thank you, St. Petersburg Times, for helping us move forward.

We will never be the great country our forefathers intended us to be until we can say we truly are one nation with liberty and justice for all.

Ron Henry, Hernando BeachReasons for reading

Re: A disappointing trend toward the left.

After a year in this area, I am subscribing to the Times for all the reasons the letter writer gives for rejecting it: A good many views are presented by the paper itself (good journalism); readers' opinions are printed which may be unpopular; sometimes comics present an absurdity in a wonderfully graphic way. Thanks for an oasis.

Nan Sawyer, Sun City Center

Leave government out of it

Re: A Christian and a Democrat, letter, Jan. 26.

I would like the letter writer to show me and a few million other "Evangelical Christians," as he calls himself, where the Bible says it is the duty of the government to provide food stamps, school lunch programs, visit the imprisoned and build halfway houses? Where does it say that the government is responsible to clothe the naked and fund housing for the homeless?

Jesus said the church is responsible for those programs. If you will remember, Jesus said, "When I was hungry, you fed me, thirsty you gave me drink, imprisoned, you visited me there." He did not say, "The government came and visited me."

Actually, neither political party is "Christian" in nature or character these days. But at least the Republican Party is not promoting abortion. At least the Republican Party answered the call when our land was attacked (unlike President Clinton with the USS Cole, the first World Trade Center attack, etc.).

The Democrats are proficient at taking what belongs to me and giving to those who do not have any ambition in life, and you call that "Christian?" They raised taxes on the poor when they hiked the percentage of tax paid by those on Social Security, and you call that "Christian"?

Craig L. Gross, Oldsmar

Bad attitudes trickle down

Re: Bay area struggles with diversity, Jan. 27.

There can be no doubt that this "struggle" with people's attitude toward their fellow human beings who are "different" is a direct result of the same "trickle down" influence coming out of the Bush administration from people like John Ashcroft, Karl Rove and Richard Perle, among others who have treated these people that are "different" with disdain.

Until the leaders of this country provide a "different" attitude of compassion, caring and understanding, nothing much will change. Their Machiavellian demeanor that they are God-fearing people, so therefore they must always be right, breeds hatred and oppression. They will reap the whirlwind.

Edward Costello, Largo

A discriminatory cartoon

In Don Wright's Jan. 28 cartoon, the tubby middle-aged "angels" are saying, "Politicians are funny, aren't they? They start wars, wreck lives, sell themselves to the highest bidder, and all because of their personal relationship with Jesus!"

This should be corrected to read, "And all because of their lack of personal relationship with Jesus."

If this cartoon had any other religious leader's name in place of Jesus, it would not have been published. I consider its publication a discriminatory act.

Mary Puckett, New Port Richey

Religious groups can be of great help

Re: Where he stands, editorial, Jan. 25.

We doubt you want to throw the baby out with the bath water, but your criticism of President Bush's proposal to use faith-based organizations for critical societal needs seems to advocate just that. You would forgo the significant benefits these organizations can bring to troubled humans to avoid an imagined religious threat to the state _ an alternative, we believe, riskier than the one you seek to avoid.

The Jewish, Christian and Muslim religions see us as children of God, and except for a few distortions by power-hungry humans, we are directed to love one another. We are to be family. In his recent book, The Dignity of Difference, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks says ". . . great responsibility now lies with the world's religious communities. Against all expectations, they have emerged in the 21st century as key forces in a global age. . . . (They) must speak the silent cry of those who today suffer from want, hunger, disease, powerlessness and the lack of freedom."

As a Catholic, I subscribe to Rabbi Sacks' words and to much else in this wonderfully well-written book because I believe only religion has the power to show us that we are family. And what could be more important than "family" and "friends" in a global society which has no overarching civil authority to order and direct it? We hope, therefore, the Times staff will devote more imagination and type to finding acceptable ways for government to use the extraordinary help of faith-based organizations.

Bill Voll, Dunedin

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