June 30: Letters to the editor

June 30, 2013 

Kentucky should revoke ban on gay marriage

In 1996, I wrote a letter to the editor that expressed my feelings that Congress and then President Bill Clinton should be ashamed for passing and signing the Defense of Marriage Act. I write this time to express my surprise and joy in last week's Supreme Court's ruling striking down DOMA in part.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court's ruling did not go far enough.

While the high court upheld the ideals of federalism (a principle espoused by conservatives) by acknowledging the sovereignty of states in the area of domestic relations, it failed to recognize that "marriage is a basic civil right" for same-sex couples, as it was for interracial couples in the case of Loving v. Virginia. As a consequence of that failure, the battle for marriage equality moves to the individual states.

Sadly, Kentucky fails to grant the right of same-sex couples to marry.

I urge our General Assembly to immediately approve a constitutional amendment that would repeal Section 233A of our state constitution. I appeal to the good people of this commonwealth to support a constitutional amendment that would finally grant marriage equality to our fellow gay Kentucky citizens.

Kungu Njuguna

Louisville


Scalia's double standard

Innumerable people have already pointed out the irony of the Honorable Justice Antonin Scalia lamenting the overturning of the will of Congress and the people in last week's Proposition 8 case, exactly one day after doing exactly that with the Voting Rights Act.

However, there's an even bigger case of irony in the Defense of Marriage Act case.

Scalia fulminates: "It is one thing for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it hostes humani generis, enemies of the human race. ... In the majority's telling, this story is black-and-white: Hate your neighbor or come along with us. The truth is more complicated. It is hard to admit that one's political opponents are not monsters, especially in a struggle like this one, and the challenge in the end proves more than today's Court can handle."

How terrible that one should demonize those with whom one disagrees, rants Scalia, completely ignoring that the stated purpose of DOMA, according to the House Judiciary report on the law, was because "Congress decided to reflect and honor of [sic] collective moral judgment and to express moral disapproval of homosexuality" — in other words, to demonize those with whom they disagreed.

Ivonne Rovira

Louisville


Short-sighted on coal

Thanks for the series of articles on coal mining in Eastern Kentucky. A few weeks ago, I was in Frankfort to testify on a bill on selenium standards in water when I saw a big black Chevy Suburban with a bumper sticker that declared "Mine Every Lump."

I'm used to the ubiquitous "Friends of Coal" stickers and tags, but this one took me aback.

Does this person not know that the Earth just passed the 400 parts per million level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? Does he not realize that a temperature increase of some 3 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit and over 20 inches of sea-level rise are now pretty much locked in by the end of the century, even if the level of CO2 does not increase from today's level?

Does he want to keep on mining and burning coal until the Earth reaches 1,000 PPM, which last occurred during the Eocene era some 30 million years ago? If trends continue, that is what would happen by the year 2100.

That would mean that all of the ice locked into the Arctic and Greenland ice sheets would melt and most of Florida and the Eastern seaboard would be under water. I suspect that Mr. "Mine Every Lump" does not care so long as he continues to get his coal-mining royalty checks as he will be long gone before the ecological disaster that is global warming comes to total fruition in the second half of this century.

Jim Porter

Danville


Coal brings jobs

"How much abuse can Eastern Kentucky take?" was the headline on last Sunday's editorial, Sure getting it wide open from this outfit. All you ever see in this paper is how terrible coal is. But coal doesn't bring poverty, it brings work. Lack of work brings poverty.

You reported that a fellow miner laid off in Knott County was making $1,600 to $1,700 a week and had a 2011 Taurus. That ain't poverty. I would like to buy a new car for the first time in my life, but because of the fight against what has been an honorable living, it doesn't look like a good move. I'm paying my bills, but a lot more aren't.

I've not seen anyone come from Lexington to put up capital for factories here. Coal has been our hand up. Don't tell me we need leaders, when American Standard shut down Johnson County's only factory saying it was too far out of the way. Who's kidding who?

You know you have to have another job waiting before you quit the one you have. It was said here, you can't be friends with coal. Well, you can't be friends with trees either.

Ray E. Davis Jr.

Hager Hill


Immoral plan for doctors

I read with dismay the Associated Press article regarding the shortage of 4,000 doctors Kentucky is experiencing.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services is considering several solutions, including recruiting foreign medical graduates to serve our rural communities.

I am not criticizing this idea based on xenophobia; my criticism stems from the inherently unfair practice of luring doctors from relatively poor countries to practice in America.

Those doctors have been trained at a disproportionately huge cost to their home countries. That a wealthy nation would not find it morally reprehensible to entice them from their home countries should be a call to examine our collective conscience.

We should be sending more doctors and health care professionals to poor countries, not facilitating a brain drain of their best and brightest graduates. I am confident we have many qualified students who would be interested in practicing in rural Kentucky. We need more slots in our medical schools, especially for primary-care physicians.

Perhaps a better approach would be to offer loan forgiveness in exchange for practicing in county health departments. This would help offset part of their education.

The desire for unreasonable fees for services rendered, excessively palatial facilities and expensive lobbying by the medical community — in collaboration with medical schools that, despite increased demand, have been reluctant to increase class sizes — have all contributed to our doctor shortage.

To solve the problem by encouraging foreign doctors to practice here is simply a bad prescription for what ails us.

Steve O'Connor

West Liberty


Pre-school for all

It's great that Toyota Motor Corporation ("Toyota to expand early childhood education centers," June 17) has invested in pre-kindergarten. But making quality pre-kindergarten affordable is a national challenge and requires a national solution.

It's about fairness. Just 48 percent of low-income children enter kindergarten school-ready, compared to three-fourths of higher-income kids. Quality pre-K levels the playing field, especially for poor kids. And it cultivates "soft skills" prized by employers like Toyota, such as focus and critical thinking, giving today's kids a better chance to compete in tomorrow's economy.

Congress should build a federal-state partnership, like the Children's Health Insurance Program (KCHIP in Kentucky), which provides quality, cost-effective health care for Kentucky kids.

Federal funds would help states like Kentucky make pre-K affordable for every child. And funding would be limited to providers meeting evidence-informed quality standards.

KCHIP's success shows Republicans and Democrats can put kids ahead of politics. Let's urge Kentucky's leaders in Congress to do it again. A child's potential, not a parent's income, should define the limits of academic success.

Bruce Lesley

President, First Focus

Washington, D.C.


Pipeline a better future

The idea that the Bluegrass Pipeline will carry what's "left over" after fracking is incorrect. Drillers specifically seek out natural gas liquids (NGLs), which is why the liquids-rich shales in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio are booming with new jobs and economic growth.

NGLs are used by chemical manufacturers to make plastics and a host of other products we all use every day. Tightly regulated pipelines — including many in this very region — operate safely every day to transport this vital product to end-use consumers.

As for fracking itself, the Environmental Protection Agency under the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations has concluded it is safe and not contaminating water. State regulators and experts from MIT to Stanford have confirmed that conclusion.

The author of a June 23 commentary suggests little is done for the common good by promoting development. But our massive supply of low-cost NGLs is why manufacturers are now re-investing in the U.S. economy — as much as $100 billion by one estimate.

Shale development across the country has also dramatically reduced our reliance on OPEC and other foreign sources of energy.

What's more, increased use of natural gas — one of the lowest-cost and cleanest sources of energy — has saved households billions of dollars on their energy bills and slashed local air pollution. Natural gas has even allowed the United States to lead the world in reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

If the goal is to promote the common good, then responsible oil and gas development must be part of the equation.

Shawn Bennett

Director of community, corporate affairs

Engery in Depth-Ohio

Cambridge, Ohio


Biotech foods OK

Fortunately for your readers, the June 23 commentary, "Sowing seeds of genetic roulette" is identified as "opinion," since it contains almost nothing factual.

As vice president of Lexington's Good Foods Market's board of directors, Terri Fann has a special interest in denigrating mainstream agriculture.

If Fann can make consumers question the safety and healthfulness of foods improved through biotechnology, consumers are more willing to pay the premium price for organic foods offered at the Good Foods Market.

There simply is no question about the health and safety of genetically modified foods. Scientific organizations such as the National Academies of Science, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, World Health Organization and the American Medical Association among others have produced more than 600 scientific studies supporting the safety of genetically modified foods.

To support her claims, Fann references studies and organizations that no one has ever heard of. One study cited, from the University of Caen, is notable because nearly every scientific organization in the world agreed it was fraudulent and debunked it widely.

Evidence also points to the benefits of biotechnology including a decline in the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, an increase in natural resource conservation and the ability to produce more foods for a growing population in a sustainable manner.

Karen Batra

Director, food and agriculture communications

Biotechnology Industry Organization

Washington, D.C.


Obama's absurd criticism

In a recent speech in Ireland, President Barack Obama said Catholic and Protestant parochial schools are divisive and shouldn't exist.

This angered the majority of the largely Catholic crowd, and for Obama to condemn religious schools is absurd, when in a New York Times interview he reflected back to when he was a "little Jakarta street kid" and was attending a Muslim school and got in trouble during Koran study classes for making faces.

During this interview, Obama spoke the opening lines of the "Arabic Call to Prayer" in an accent never heard before from him; he described it as one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset.

My point is, these things he learned in his Muslim school. So when he says religious schools are divisive, do you think he would include Muslim schools? We have people claiming FBI wanted posters of terrorists are racist. So, now it's racist or profiling because all of the terrorists that want to kill Americans are Muslim? Get over it.

George Greenup

Lexington

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