Letter writer Michael McCabe — as have others — asks that we hold fast to the meanings of our words, yet he seems to believe that the meaning of “marriage,” as he personally understands it, has in fact that very meaning (Voice of the People, “Marriage vote raises issues of equality and authority,” April 23).

As with other popularly misappropriated terms, such as the frequent misuse of “technology” to mean tools like the Internet and computers (instead of a written, approved process specification — its literal and basic meaning), misusing “marriage” serves only to blur the conversation.

The word spelled “marriage” is an evolution of the same word “merge.” A merger, in this case, of two families, originally and even today to build a larger community of friends that collaborate in supporting the people in these families. Hard work demands many hands.

That this merger be effected by two representatives of opposing genders is no requirement. Only the resulting merger itself counts as a “marriage.” Weddings, other ceremonies and “begettings” are supplemental, and can be accomplished without the merger.

Lest we forget.

Pete Mickelson

Buxton

In response to Michael McCabe’s question of authority in changing the definition of marriage, that authority rests ultimately in the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights. 

Under slavery, marriage was not permitted to black Americans, but after emancipation, that right was extended under the 14th Amendment. In 1967, the laws against interracial marriage were declared unconstitutional. 

Various laws regarding divorce, inheritance and property have all changed the definition of marriage. These changes have become woven into the fabric of our times and hardly raise the ire they once did.

To establish civil unions for one category of citizens is essentially saying that those citizens are not equal under the law. The responsibilities and benefits from all the laws around the institution of marriage should be available to all citizens.

Just as it seems a bit incredible today that women in the early 20th century could not vote, so will it seem to our children’s children that in the early 21st century, gays and lesbians could not marry.

Lorraine Fine

South Portland

Michael McCabe could probably answer his own question. The authority to formulate any definition of marriage comes from the same font: the word of God, as we understand it.

For some, that word is understood through a literal reading of the Bible. For those faithful, marriage is usually defined as between one man and one woman. It used to be considered a lifelong commitment, but that part of the definition has already changed.

In much of the Islamic world, the faithful define marriage as between one man and several wives. They would likewise strongly affirm that their religion is based on the word of God.

For many Americans of faith, relationship to God has become a personal spiritual journey, often within the arms of a loving Christ, often based on a reading of the Bible that understands it as God-inspired history and parable.

Except for the Ten Commandments, which do not define marriage, all of the Bible is human-mediated, not written down directly by God, and may well therefore be subject to social as well as spiritual influences.

For those who experience God’s love as broad enough to include all creation, any marriage that affirms the commitment of loving adults to share their lives is a good marriage. We choose to focus on two adults rather than polygamy probably for social reasons.

We do not ask those whose literal interpretation of the Bible disallows gay marriage to perform or attend them. But we do ask them to understand that our deeply held faith supports such marriage.

And in many instances, that faith is based on our understanding of the will of God. Thus, please let us live out our faith.

Pamela B. Blake

Freeport

Does Gov. Paul LePage have no sense of decency?

Gov. LePage should be ashamed! His pronouncement Thursday that “middle management of the state is about as corrupt as can be” is slander of the first order and untrue (“Governor points to ‘corrupt’ workers,” April 27).

Is he not aware of what such an allegation will do to the morale of state employees for whom he serves as “chief executive”?

I served as a trustee of the Maine Public Employees Retirement System for 20 years and I saw no “corruption” at all, only dedicated, hardworking people doing the best job they could.

Many citizens of Maine are frankly appalled by the governor’s uncouth and insensitive statements, telling the president to go to hell and the NAACP to kiss his rear end. Apparently, he has not learned that people can disagree without using such outrageous language.

I am reminded of the Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954, and the famous question: “Have you no sense of decency, sir?”

It may be time for members of the Republican Party to follow the great example of Sen. Margaret Chase Smith and to issue a “Declaration of Conscience” to get the governor to curb his tongue.

David S. Wakelin

South Portland

Support Matt Dunlap because he speaks for us

A lot of politicians talk about the economy and taxes, but Matt Dunlap was the first person I’ve heard speak who actually talks about real people.

I heard him speak recently, and to hear him talk about the wage-earning jobs he’s held to pay rent, I felt like I was listening to a neighbor.

But he also really understands our history. He talks about the job losses in Sanford, Old Town, Bangor, Lewiston, Waterville and across the country and the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans who keep sending these jobs overseas. When he talks about building a better future for his daughter, I know he’s also talking about my daughter, too.

We really need someone who will speak for us. I’m supporting Matt Dunlap for U.S. Senate this year.

Cindy Libby

Hudson