Letters at length, November 24

A solution to the marriage dilemma

In response to Chris Honoré's Nov. 18 commentary "Equal Protection": I believe that all people should have equal rights that the government has said are rights for some people but not for others. I also believe that marriage is a contract between a man and a woman and God. And therein lies the conflict in our society. The elephant in the room is the blurring of lines between church and state as regards to marriage. This issue cannot be resolved by the state saying that any two people can be legally married, because that goes against some religions. It cannot say that marriage is between only a man and a woman, because that denies equal rights to same sex couples.

Some history will explain how we got to this dilemma. Hundreds of years ago in Europe, the church and state were one. Whatever rules the church set down were the laws of the land. Even before we became a country, the division of church and state had been broken in Europe, but the rules of marriage set by the church were adopted by the state.

How can we get out of this dilemma and be true to all individuals? The state could declare that the legal union of two persons is a civil union granted by a justice of the peace. This would leave marriage to the church, and religious leaders would not be quasi-government officials as they are now when they sign the legal marriage certificate. This action would not satisfy those individuals who want to be called married. The other solution would be for the government to declare the legal union of two persons to be a civil marriage as opposed to a religious marriage. It would be performed by a justice of the peace. This person would also be responsible for informing the couple of the rights and responsibilities of civil marriage.

Would this solution weaken religious marriage? On the contrary, it would strengthen it by eliminating the conflict between secular law and religious doctrine.

Would this solution eliminate weddings? No. Couples could still have weddings. But the wedding would not be the legal act. The appearance before the justice of the peace would be the act declaring two persons legally bound to each other.

Edith Montgomery


Apply common sense to public safety levy

As one who spent many years serving on emergency response teams and helped to form and coordinate response between various city agencies and school districts in California, and who was also a building inspector for the state on both residential and public construction, I take issue with a comment made by Martha Bennett and some of the ideas mentioned in the Nov. 18 Daily Tidings article ("Public safety levy may be put to voters"). Ms. Bennett is quoted as saying that fire station no. 2 is constructed of hollow cinder blocks and would never withstand a major earthquake, and then she went on to make a comment about the firemen being enclosed in the wreckage and not able to respond, etc.

I hope that this funding process the council seeks is not going to be rife with scare tactics. It might interest the citizens of Ashland to know that in the event of a major catastrophe, the fire department is not going to go house to house putting out fires. You are on your own as a homeowner. They will protect communications and other important service facilities. At the prices the council is talking about, an earthquake retrofit would cost far less than a brand new building, would most likely not trap the firemen inside, and could withstand a hypothetical major earthquake. When was there a major earthquake in Ashland? Yes, there is always a possibility.

I also don't see the need for an expanded police department facility. Why isn't the Ashland force approaching other communities in the area to share facilities for training? Since these facility upgrades and new construction are to be paid out of my property taxes, I would like to see some common sense applied in the process. These are lean times for all who live here. The council approach to tacking everything onto property owners is getting out of hand and soon Ashland will be faced with the problems of everyone looking for affordable housing and all of the elderly driven out.

Thomas Walters


A fearless attitude is needed in Zimbabwe

I read with sorrowful feeling the Nov. 21 article on Pastor Kokayi in Zimbabwe ("Witnessing healing and reconciliation in Zimbabwe"). How true this is for many people alive and those gone in this land of sorrow and fear-ridden citizens. For where can they turn and have peace? The regional leadership is refusing to accept reality as a political pretext not to be seen to work against each other. Please pray that true feeling for people and willingness to accept change comes into the hearts and minds of those who contest for political power.

Traditionally in the land of Zimbabwe, society had a way of healing where even death had been inflicted upon one family by another. It simply was restitution after one side accepted the wrongful act and asked for forgiveness. Those guilty of causing pain upon another family were required to make compensation. It was far from being able to return the life of the late, but a sober way to bring relations to a normal level in communities.

These initiatives were done by one family to another as part of our tradition, since we feared being haunted by spiritual mediums of the late.

With Mugabe surrogates alive and even priding themselves for having committed acts of brutality scott free, it is difficult to cause natural healing. Even Mugabe himself could easily be forgiven if only he realized that people only want acknowledgement that he wronged them. People also know that their loved ones cannot be replaced, no matter what. But the fact that it appears that those grieved and hurt are the ones who seem to be asked to concede defeat and accept that they were wrong means healing will take time to root. On the contrary, I see people harboring ill feelings which will just explode, throwing the country at one point or other into a nation of distressed citizens who are after each other's blood, God forbid.

Please take this task with a lot of prayer in order for many of us to heal spiritually. I admire the work you have set yourself to undertake and pray to God that it be done with open sincerity and love for one another. Special blessings upon those in the forefront of this crusade. We need fearless attitude, which comes from the greater conviction that God will wipe away our tears in the conclusion of man suffering.

Andrew M. Manyevere

Fort McMurray, Alberta

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