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Gay? Fine by me

I just wanted to express my gratitude for last week's article on the issue of the Gay-Straight Alliance club in District 11. I had heard about the protests, and the eventual decision to turn down the club, on the local news. That, in and of itself, was somewhat upsetting because it sends a message of intolerance to the kids. But I had no idea the situation went as far as the school district seeking funds from evangelical groups to cover their court fees, which, to me, sounds like a "separation of church and state" issue, too.

Additionally, we all see how the districts are constantly hurting for money and almost annually have a new ballot issue for more funding. Yet they choose to waste a quarter of a million dollars over a club because they are too scared of this issue.

One of my biggest frustrations with this city after moving here as part of my Air Force career in the mid-'90s was the incredible lack of tolerance towards issues like this. It is almost to the point of feeling like there is a fear that if people are exposed to gays or the issue, they will somehow be "converted" to being gay, rather than establishing a healthy dialogue between the two sides of the issue.

This past year my youngest brother told the family that he was gay. For those who claim this is some wayward choice or act of rebellion: If you had been there, and seen the absolute anguish he went through just to tell the family because he feared being shunned, you would know this is who he is and not something to be "fixed." Anyway, he then took it upon himself to establish a Gay-Straight Alliance at the local high school, which is in a typical middle-class suburb south of Chicago. Not only was the club approved with no problem whatsoever, but he also received approval to sell T-shirts in the cafeteria that read, "Gay? Fine by me." in an attempt to promote tolerance.

-- Jeff Liang

Colorado Springs

Living in fear

Whatever some may say, a Gay-Straight Alliance is a significantly different kind of organization than a chess club. The alliance poses more difficulties to the school in terms of controversy and security than any of the other non-curricular clubs. You don't risk getting beat up for joining the mountain biking club.

The GSA lawsuit was the first time the district was forced to face the reality of a closed-forum policy. So administrators made a decision. I don't believe that it was necessarily a brave decision, or the correct decision, but the district chose to re-classify its non-curricular clubs. Choices have consequences, and now the district will have to live with the loss of the kind of wealth of activities once available to District 11 students.

I think there's a great danger in painting what has happened in D-11 as some kind of anti-gay crusade. The district's decision not to recognize the GSA, I think, springs not from conspiracy but from fear. I think the district really is afraid of neo-Nazis. I think the district is also afraid of a GSA.

The Independent mentioned the district's application for funds from the Alliance Defense Fund, which is closely connected to Focus on the Family. But the Indy failed to state what seems to me to be an obvious argument. If you're a school district trying to educate thousands of students with limited funds already stretched thin, I imagine that you fight lawsuits with whatever money you can get.

Linking district officials with an anti-gay group once more paints a picture of the district as an institution to be feared by gay students seeking solutions. What better way to convince young gay people that litigation is the only answer?

What is really lacking right now, and what this controversy needs desperately, is communication. The gag order has probably done more damage than anything else, keeping district officials mute and incapable of discussing in frank language the difference between the bureaucratic stance on the GSA and the true fears and desires of both administrators and students.

-- Lauren Goulding

Colorado Springs

Big, hairy targets

I want to clear up some misconceptions in the May 19 letter to the editor from Kelly Cremer concerning the buffalo stampede and police response.

The letter said that buffalo were on the brink of extinction 100 years ago, and that the police had no respect for this. Buffalo were indeed on the brink of extinction, but now they are raised, like cattle, on ranches, for human consumption.

The letter said that police shoot to wound people, so they should shoot buffalo to wound them. Police do not shoot to wound people. They shoot at the largest target area on the human body, the chest. So you can't build an argument that the police should also, in the spirit of fairness, shoot buffalo to wound them.

A person wounded with a gunshot often goes into shock and falls down. A large wounded animal typically gets very angry and becomes more dangerous. A wounded animal may charge at people and is a dangerous creature. Shooting at buffalo to wound them is not only illegal, it is crazy and inhumane.

Suppose, though, that a wounded buffalo would become sedate. What would happen next? Would the police call a buffalo ambulance to take the wounded beasts to our local buffalo vet, who would surgically remove the bullets, nurse the beasts through convalescence, and return them to their pastures? This is not realistic thinking.

Police weapons are not powerful hunting weapons. To hunt buffalo, one needs a very powerful hunting rifle, not a police duty gun or M-16. The police shot the animals many times because they had to, not because they enjoyed firing at the big, hairy targets. Yes, 120 bullets flying in a neighborhood is dangerous. But has anybody suggested a realistic alternative?

Instead of defaming the police as sadistic bad guys acting like slob hunters on the streets of our city, consider the fear they must have had, and the anguish they felt after shooting these animals to protect us. We owe our police thanks, and do them no service when we blame them for this event.

-- Doug Parr

Colorado Springs

Breaking records

Is anything more Republican than hypocrisy?

In response to Michael McCauley's May 26 letter to the editor complaining about Democrats filibustering, I would like to point out that in the first two years of the Clinton presidency, the Republicans deployed 48 filibusters, more than ever were deployed in the entire previous history of the Senate.

It is extremely hypocritical of Mr. McCauley to now complain if the Dems occasionally do so as well.

-- Thomas McCullock

Colorado Springs

Take 'em whole hog

In his letter to the editor last week, Michael McCauley wrote, "We demand a straight-up vote on judgeships!"

I just hate to let hypocrisy go unchecked:

Senator Wayne Allard (R-Colo.) blocked two of Clinton's judicial nominees from receiving an up-or-down vote: James Lyons, 10th Circuit- Colorado and Patricia Coan, a District Court nominee. Allard also voted to filibuster three Clinton nominees: judicial appointees Marsha Berzon and Richard Paez and executive nominee David Satcher.

Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) voted to filibuster three Clinton nominees: judicial appointees Marsha Berzon and Richard Paez and executive nominee David Satcher.

Robert Bennett (R-Utah) voted to filibuster 11 Clinton executive nominees: Walter Dellinger, Janet Napolitano, Sam W. Brown (twice), Derek Shearer, Ricki Tigert, Henry Foster (twice) and five State Department nominees.

Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) voted to filibuster two Clinton judicial nominees: Marsha Berzon and Richard Paez.

Larry Craig (R-Idaho) voted to filibuster 13 Clinton nominees (executive and judicial): Walter Dellinger, Janet Napolitano, Sam W. Brown (twice), Derek Shearer, Ricki Tigert, Henry Foster (twice), Marsha Berzon, Richard Paez and five State Department nominees.

Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) voted to filibuster three Clinton nominees (executive and judicial): Henry Foster (twice), Marsha Berzon and Richard Paez.

Trent Lott (R-Miss.) coined the phrase "nuclear option" while he was the Republican majority leader. Here is his quote from the Clinton years: "When the Democrats think that all the president has to do is to kick up some appointments to the federal judiciary and that we're just gonna take 'em whole hog and pop 'em right out ... well, that's not my intent."

I could go on (and on and on), but ink is expensive.

-- Emily Frazee

Colorado Springs

Setback for civil rights

As an American, a former Coloradan and a Catholic, I am disappointed by Gov. Bill Owens' recent veto of a bill that would have banned discrimination against employees based on sexual orientation.

Growing up in Colorado, I came to understand that one of America's cherished ideals is to fight all forms of injustice, including those suffered by gay Americans. Gov. Owens' veto is a setback for progress made in civil rights and anti-discrimination policy.

Whether it is a lack of domestic partnership benefits or unwarranted dismissals of gay employees, including some businesses in Colorado, there is daily discrimination directed against gay Americans. Without the strongest legal protection, there is little to prevent injustices from permeating the workplace. Aside from this being immoral, it is just bad business.

I applaud the Democratic majorities in the Colorado House and Senate for their courage, integrity and open-mindedness to fight for the safety of any employee targeted in Colorado based on sexual orientation, gay or straight.

An amendment that protects all Colorado employees from discrimination in the workplace would send a message nationally that hateful discrimination in the workplace is intolerable.

-- Ken Seifert

Washington, D.C.

War on the poor

I'm surprised that many Americans are not aware that Social Security is taxed on income only to $90,000. That means someone making $90K pays the same amount of Social Security tax as a rich person making $1 million a year.

It's disgusting that the rich get off without paying their dues.

I read how important it is to not overtax the rich. Unfortunately, these people do not take into account that the rich do not worry about making a living.

Not so with the poor and middle class -- they struggle just to make enough to live. Tax the damn rich -- they need to pay more. They got rich off this country and the backs of the poor and middle class.

We hear about the "war on terror," the "war in Afghanistan" and the "war in Iraq." But who's talking about the "war on American people," waged by the SOBs who are systematically taking everything that our people have fought and died for?

-- Mrs. Richard Williams

Colorado Springs

Drivers unite

Fellow drivers: It's time to start something related to these ridiculous gas prices.

I drive to Denver regularly, and gas in Castle Rock has been between $1.99 and $2.03 for over a month. Something is wrong! So I propose that every consumer who purchases gas in the Springs ask the clerk a question: "Why are your gas prices not $1.99, like they are in Castle Rock, just 30 miles north of here?" When they reply, "I don't know. I don't set the price. I just work here," reply, "Well, please tell your manager I'll stop shopping here unless he/she gets this problem fixed!" But we've got to ask it every time, over and over, knowing the answer doesn't matter.

I know it's not the clerk's fault, but a lot of people in Colorado Springs are making a lot of extra money for no legitimate reason. Maybe if customers become more of a squeaky wheel, somebody would want to shut us up with lower prices. But we likely won't. So we'll just continue to be the victims, while somebody gets rich!

-- Wulking Culberto

Colorado Springs

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