Thursday's letters: Voters take a stand for freedom

Published Nov. 18, 2015

Houston, Kentucky elections

Voters take a stand for freedom

"Political correctness" didn't do well in some recent elections.

In Houston, the "bathroom bill" was soundly defeated, 61 percent against to 39 percent in favor. The mayor and City Council tried to force this bill on Houston, but residents objected and gathered 55,000 signatures to put it on the ballot.

The mayor and City Council still refused a vote, causing an outcry that included pastors speaking up on the issue. The mayor then attempted to subpoena sermons and all correspondence from five pastors, which didn't sit well with supporters of freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Finally, the Texas Supreme Court ruled to put the bill on the ballot.

This bill allowed men or boys who think they are females into ladies' or girls' restrooms, locker rooms, showers and vice versa. It would violate First Amendment free speech rights and force businesses to promote a sexuality and marriage message contrary to their religious beliefs. It's amazing what happens when citizens are informed and allowed to vote. This commonsense victory supported safety, free speech and religious freedom.

In Kentucky, Matt Bevin became Kentucky's second Republican governor in 44 years by defeating his opponent 53 percent to 44 percent. His Democratic opponent refused to defend the state's marriage amendment last year as attorney general and refused to offer religious accommodations to County Clerk Kim Davis. Bevin believes there's a reasonable solution for those who don't support redefining marriage, rather than quitting, going to jail, or being sued and fined. Social issues and the First Amendment were important in Kentucky.

Many voters weren't on board with a liberal vision of social change and the bullying and intimidation that accompany it. It looks like they may be starting to stand up for their values and religious freedoms and vote for policies and candidates supportive of their values.

Diana Gilbert, Niceville

Paris attacks

On Obama's watch

There was no ISIS before President Barack Obama, there was no Syrian crisis before Obama, and there was no refugee crisis from the Middle East before Obama, who ignored all the good advice that removing the troops from Iraq too early would cause a regional disaster, which it has.

When will Obama accept responsibility for this global disaster he has caused?

Ronnie Dubs, St. Petersburg

Big opportunities in health | Nov. 16

Profits over health care

The Affordable Care Act may be a good thing; we cannot be denied coverage based on pre-existing health problems.

But meanwhile, health care management companies get to make billions of dollars in profit. And as the new CEO of WellCare put it, there's nowhere to go but up. Get in line, investors. What could be a program that pours billions into medical care is convoluted into one that siphons outrageous profits to those whose only interest is in how much they can take from the table and how much higher the profits can go.

The ACA is a government-forced tax, nothing more, that provides billions of dollars of profit to companies that have nothing to do with health care other than selling us a piece of our own souls.

Imagine for one moment that those profits were directed into real health care. How much less would the average person need to pay? How much less would medications cost? How much more research could be funded? How much more could the poor and underserved be helped?

Thomas J. Cook, St. Petersburg

Bipartisan effort to help prevent childhood deaths | Nov. 16, commentary

A chance to save lives

I want to thank the Tampa Bay Times for acknowledging the support that many Florida representatives have already given to the bipartisan Reach Every Mother and Child Act, including Reps. Dennis Ross and David Jolly and Sen. Marco Rubio. Few pieces of legislation would improve the lives of mothers and children around the world as much as the Reach Act.

Washington is known for gridlock, but the Reach Act has quickly been gaining co-sponsors from both parties. Surely saving the lives of mothers and children is something we can all agree on.

We don't get many opportunities to save lives like the one we have right in front of us — let's take it. I call on Sen. Bill Nelson to follow the lead of other Florida representatives and co-sponsor this smart, bipartisan legislation.

Scott Weathers, Washington, D.C.

Guns in state parks

Hunting seasons

The state's proposal to allow hunting in parks generates strong feelings. What many people don't realize is that the state already allows hunting in its second-tier parklands, its forests. Consider the Withlacoochee State Forest, an enchanted land of rolling hills and deep nature, recommended just last week by the Times' outdoor editor as a nice hiking destination.

What that article didn't mention, and what's not easy to learn, is that just as the weather gets nice, hunting seasons open on those lands. To find out if there will be shooting while your family tries to walk the trail, you must navigate a confusing website to find the correct agency, and then you must sort through calendars to learn which kind of hunt is when.

It's the same for portions of the Florida Trail. And the frequency of these hunts, by some obscure process, seems to have increased over the decade. But at least notices are posted on the Internet. If instead you go the Starkey Serenova Preserve in Pasco County, their lovely hiking/biking/horse trails are sometimes closed for hunts without external notice (you get the frustrating news at the trailhead). None of this is tourist-friendly.

I am thankful that I can enjoy peaceful, natural Florida in places like Hillsborough River State Park. Political leaders must speak up for preserving peace and harmony, at least in the few parks left.

Thomas Sanocki, Tampa