1. Letters to the Editor

Wednesday's letters: U.N. helping fight for equal rights

Published Jul. 1, 2014

Same-sex rights

U.N. helps in fight for equal rights

Tampa is emerging as national leader in tolerance with the conclusion of the second annual month of LGBT Pride, as proclaimed by Mayor Bob Buckhorn. But as we celebrate this, we must not forget the pervasive challenges for LGBT rights that persist every day on a global scale.

The facts can be sobering. Today, around 80 countries criminalize same-sex relationships. In some of these places, legislation has emerged targeting LGBT rights groups and activists simply for advancing the cause of equality. This means that something like an equality march or rainbow flag — which have become hallmarks of pride activities in our community — could result in arrest, or worse.

What global ally will stand with LBGT individuals? The answer, increasingly, is the United Nations. The United Nations has emerged as a key and vocal advocate for LGBT rights, in addition to its usual roles of promoting peace and justice throughout the world. In June 2011, the U.N. Human Rights Council took the unprecedented move of passing a resolution affirming LGBT rights. Later, the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights compiled an in-depth report detailing the global scope of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The United Nations has also taken steps to educate and raise awareness among the public on LGBT rights. Launched in 2013, its Free and Equal Campaign works to promote greater respect for the rights of LGBT people everywhere. The campaign centers on the language of the first Article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which plainly declares: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights."

Whether we choose to advance the cause of equality in Florida, or challenge discriminatory laws abroad, we here in Tampa and across the United States can readily identify with the U.N. declaration that we are all "born free and equal." In fact, it should remind us of our duty as activists in our everyday lives, not just during LGBT month, but all year. As we move forward with this movement, the United Nations stands ready as one of our most active allies. We should draw on its support as a key partner.

Javier Alamillo, Lakeland

Crist should make full disclosure June 27, editorial

Asking the wrong person

I wonder if anyone has asked if Charlie Crist has the legal right to release his wife's personal tax information without her permission. You seem to assume that Carole Crist has granted such permission; has anyone asked her? Mrs. Crist has always appeared to be a strong, independent woman, the type who takes her right to personal property and information very seriously. Perhaps you and the GOP are asking the wrong Crist.

Win Rodewald, St. Petersburg

Shift focus to key issues

With all the problems facing Florida, why are the candidates quibbling over tax returns? Perhaps they should be discussing the following:

• Massive voter suppression with consequent clotted polling places; endless lines with six- to eight-hour waits and voters being turned away left and right.

• Upwards of a million Floridians lacking health insurance thanks to our legislators who, by the way, pay $8.34 a month ($30 a month for a family) for their own excellent health insurance.

• Totally gutted — virtually nonexistent — environmental controls.

• Millions of homeowners having to fight to avoid being fobbed off on corrupt, underfunded sham insurance companies.

Pete Wilford, Holiday

White House finds 'corrosive culture at VA June 28

Cash feeds corruption

With the recent headlines about problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs and General Motors, I see a parallel between the two. I believe both the problems with the VA wait times and the recalls at GM can be traced back to incentives or bonuses for upper and middle management.

Whether a monetary incentive is provided for reaching certain goals, as at the VA, or for reaching certain profitability levels, as at GM, employees are going to bend the rules (to put it mildly) to achieve those goals and get their bonuses. And to the honest person who dares point out the problem, or becomes a whistle-blower, watch out.

The only way to prevent these occurrences is to stop the practice of monetary incentives to management. At the VA, being a government agency, this has already been done. However at GM and other private companies, this won't be so easy, so we can expect similar GM's in the future.

Chuck Bayer, Redington Shores

Justices reprimand Obama | June 27

Hard to tell the difference

Now they are after President Barack Obama for his recess appointments when Congress is not in session. Question: With Congress' lack of action, how does one tell if it is in session or not?

Ross P. Alander, Tampa

Judgment call

I was appalled by this headline: "Justices reprimand Obama." If you read the Constitution, you'll find no authority to "reprimand" the president. Although your story came from the New York Times, you published a value judgment that was not included in the Supreme Court opinion. The justices' judgments are to be based on legal facts and findings, not personal values.

Does this represent another intrusion into the separation of branches as inscribed into the Constitution? Or is it simply the interpretation of a writer who cannot maintain objectivity?

Alan F. Sewell, Zephyrhills

Obama targets flow of immigrants | June 29

U.S. children need help

Sympathy for the thousands of illegal children crossing the border is admirable. However, in the United States there are cities with very high violent crime rates. Where is the aid for these children?

Millions of taxpayer dollars are given to Mexico and Central America. We need to spend taxpayer dollars to help our own children first.

Patricia Wood, Brooksville


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