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Friday, July 11, 2014: Hobby Lobby, Shenna Bellows, Eastport parking

Charlie Howard

Thank you for to the BDN for its excellent reporting on what the killing of Charlie Howard has led to in Maine. It is awful that it took such a bad thing to motivate the many good things that have followed.

As stressed in the July 7 editorial, despite important legal advances, we have not yet made Maine a safe and welcoming place for LGBT young people. The hostile and degrading comments they hear too often, the bullying and shunning experienced too often, including in many schools, can make growing up gay scary and humiliating, especially for those whose families, churches, etc., are not actively supportive. To top it off, some religious organizations, some politicians and some talk shows seek popularity by demeaning LGBT people. We have a responsibility to love these young people.

We are pleased that the BDN referred to the distressing research findings by the national organization GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network). Maine has two GLSEN chapters, one centered in Portland and the other in Ellsworth. By going to www.GLSEN.org/chapters, anyone can get in touch with us for help. We provide staff trainings and consultations, and we put much energy into support of gay-straight alliances in schools.

At present nearly half of Maine high schools have gay-straight alliances, but the others do not yet. A study published in Canada this year revealed that in schools that have had the groups for at least three years, the worrisome incidence of suicidality is greatly reduced for straight students as well as LGBT ones.

Peter Rees



Health care, business

The July 3 Hobby Lobby BDN editorial’s suggestion that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act needs revision is, I think, half right. But the Supreme Court is half right, too.

The justices are right to insist that everyone’s religious freedoms are to be respected. But the editorial is right to imply that the health care choices people make are none of their employers’ business.

Don’t go down the wormhole of debating the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The solution is much simpler: Stop making health care the business of employers.

Maybe it’s our hazy idealized picture of the 50s that makes us believe the American dream is working for a nanny corporation. Go work for Ma Bell. She’ll give you health insurance and a pension plan, and she’ll never lay you off.

Fast forward 60 years. Employers can best respect the people who work for them by paying them real wages and letting them make their own decisions.

David Paul Henry


Bellows change

It is time for a change in the Senate. Congress is out of touch with the American people. Congress has failed to curb banking practices that could once again cause economic havoc in this country and abroad, continues to genuflect before demands of giant corporations and the wealthy, and has failed to support renewable energy enterprises that could enhance job growth, save taxpayers money, and help to curb global warming.

Sen. Susan Collins has been Maine’s Republican senator for 18 years. Her rhetoric sounds moderate, but her voting record tells another story. Collins voted to plunge this country into two costly wars. She voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act to block women from receiving equal pay for equal work. She voted against the Student Loan Affordability Act.

We can do better for working women and students. It is about basic fairness. Fortunately, this November we have an opportunity to elect Democrat Shenna Bellows to be our next senator. She is an amazing, energetic young woman of a new generation. Bellows is a passionate advocate for civil rights and fairness. She is not a Washington insider beholden to special interests.

This month Bellows will be walking across the state. Do not miss the opportunity to hear her speak and talk with her. She is a rising bright star with vision and commitment to the people. We are so fortunate that Bellows has stepped up to run for the Senate where she can affect the kind of change desired by the American people.

A. Myrick Freeman III


Political parade

I was surprised and saddened to see that much of the July 4 Bangor-Brewer parade was turned into a political rally, primarily for Gov. Paul LePage. Indeed after the fabulous pipes and drums and the honored veterans, we were subject to car after car, float after float, devoted to the governor and many other (predominately Republican) politicians.

There seemed to be very little of the community spirit, as seen in places such as Bar Harbor and Castine. With a few very enjoyable and welcome local exceptions, it seemed to be advertising and politicians.

Thank goodness for the Boy and Girl Scouts and the Boston Terriers.

Jane Haldane

Blue Hill

Moral lobby

Much interest has been expressed in the recent Supreme Court ruling that small family-owned businesses do not have to provide health insurance that covers four abortifacients; the ruling doesn’t affect coverage of 16 contraceptives for employees. The July 1 BDN OpEd by Petula Dvorak is typical of the misinformation about this ruling that has flooded national media.

In the broader sense, this issue is not about women’s rights or religious rights; it is about human rights. It is about human beings senselessly, frivolously, inhumanely killing other human beings, whether it is a fertilized egg, an offspring in the mother’s womb or an innocent bystander gunned down by a thug. In my view, all of these are tantamount to premeditated murder.

While the recent Supreme Court decision appears to be a step in the right direction, our morally challenged administration, our do-nothing Congress, and our politically biased Supreme Court who voted strictly along party lines, will allow this appalling, cruel practice of abortion to continue to drag this nation further and further into moral decline.

Joe Bertolaccini



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