In the words of John F. Kennedy: "A nation cannot be free until all of its citizens are free." Let the homophobic, bigoted, religious right keep their preaching to themselves. Keep your terminology "marriage" (50 percent of which end in divorce); just give us our rights that are guaranteed to free people. Many of the religious right's politicians who oppose gay rights say America's Christian heritage supports their exclusive agenda. In fact, some are now trying to change the Constitution to reflect their religious views and to deny gay citizens their civil rights, and the more than 1,000 legal benefits (inheritance and family issues, for example) that go along with civil unions. My partner and I have been together almost 35 years. Just like our straight friends, we pay taxes - income, property, and SSI - but we do not get an equal return for our taxes. All we are asking is to give us equal rights.

Roughly 40 years ago, when we first got involved in supporting the fight for civil rights, these detractors were focused on racial inequities. We heard the same basic arguments then, that society would be destroyed if equal rights were guaranteed to all our citizens. Every advance in our society's evolution, including abolition of slavery, women's equality, workers' rights, racial equality, and women's rights, was considered unnatural or immoral before it was achieved. We have witnessed the fallacy of those arguments. We really don't care which terminology you choose to use - "marriage" or "civil union" - just let us enjoy our rights. All we are asking is for equal treatment; give us the same legal rights that every other American enjoys.

David Fletcher
Jim Kling
Rock Island

Reader an Important Voice in the Community

I have watched the Reader with interest and admiration during the past 10 years as it has become an important voice in the community due to the civic-minded, arts-oriented commitment of its publisher.

One of the recent stories covering the Davenport School board's action in closing two of the schools was provocative and influential in calming a chaotic altercation between the advocates and the dissenters.

I remember few negative feelings about issues discussed in editorials; in fact I have agreed with most of them (as well as the movie reviews).

My favorite parts of the paper are the political pieces and the movie reviews. But I could not get along without the arts and education calendar.

Looking to the future I would hope that it maintains its focus and does not try to be all things to all people. I also hope that increased profits will see a few extra pages , allowing an increase in the print size of the cultural calendar.

Harriette Freeman

Dean Rivals Should Grow Up

As a young American I am involved at the grass-roots level with the democratic campaign, though most of my friends are not. Why? Because even though I am young, I can see a process that is broken and sick. I intend to fix the process.

What do I mean by sick and broken? Most of the democratic presidential contenders are subscribing to the old-school political game of "gotcha!" Their goal is to find a sentence from the front-runner, in this case Governor Howard Dean, and take it out of context. They then can feign moral outrage and declare that you should support the attacking candidate. The result? Fewer and fewer Americans, especially youth, participate in their own government.

The Canadians, the British, and most other countries regularly engage in true political dialogue. They realize how important the issues are and trivializing them with sound bites to play "gotcha" serves no purpose. We in the USA need to grow up and engage in discussions that last more than one sentence, let alone one out-of-context sentence.

Governor Howard Dean is the only presidential candidate who has refrained from this sort of old-school politics. He may sometimes get in hot water for a single sentence, but he levels with voters, he speaks his mind, he leads by example, and he truly wants to reform the process to bring America into the adult world of politics, both domestic and foreign.

I for one am ready to grow up. How about you adults?

Alison Kurth

Time for Regime Change at Home

And so starts the most fierce and ugly political campaign in U.S. history, the re-election campaign of George W. Bush. The new Bush TV ad is an amazing piece of negative misinformation. The underlying message of the ad is clear. If you disagree with any policy of the Bush administration, you are unpatriotic. Since when is disagreeing with a particular policy unpatriotic in the United States of America, the world's shining example of free speech, independent thought, and democracy?

Bush believes there that there is one and only one possible choice of action to take on any issue. That is the action decided by Bush. The world is black and white. According to the ad, Democrats are against the "doctrine of pre-emptive defense" and therefore soft on terrorism. The reality is that many (regardless of party affiliation) believe that Iraq should have been handled differently. Also, the term "pre-emption" implies an imminent threat. And the term "defense" most explicitly states that someone was on the "offense." It is a verifiable fact admitted by those high up in the Bush administration and CIA that Iraq was not an imminent threat and most assuredly Iraq was not on the offensive against the USA and had no link to Al Qaeda.

Governor Howard Dean has proposed mature policies for a world that is not black and white, positive and pragmatic actions to assure defense, a healthy economy, and finally a comprehensive health-care plan. It's time for a regime change here at home.

Scott Morschhauser

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