For the first time, a sitting president has “come out” for equality by supporting same-gender marriage. As the mother of a gay man, to have my president acknowledge my gay son was heartwarming and emotionally overwhelming. Living with the experience of having a straight son receive a privilege denied his gay brother, one son often vilified by those who are not inclusive, increased the importance of having our president change the course of history this week.

My thoughts turned to a gay uncle in a relationship for 30 years before he passed away, never able to celebrate the social sanction inherent in marriage or realize a thousand rights that accompany marriage. I thought of friends together for more than 20 years who could marry in Massachusetts, where they currently live, but should they desire to return to their Cousins Island home, would be denied their marriage rights. As straight couples who can marry, it is easy for us to take for granted all that is denied same-sex couples.

My son John will be married to his husband, Greg, for five years in July. They live in one of only a handful of states that support marriage equality, yet are denied all federal benefits, such as filing federal taxes jointly or being eligible for Social Security if one should pass away, and many other benefits that we, as straight couples, are easily afforded.

I am writing this on Mother’s Day, appealing to other Maine moms to speak out in support of marriage equality and to vote in November. It is never OK for the majority to vote on the rights of minorities; however, until all our children can realize equality, we need to win this battle one state at a time.

Margaret DaRos

South Portland 

There is much agitation, rancor, suspicion and lack of understanding in what passes for political debate these days. This tenor reminds me of the words V?av Havel used to describe those who hate:

“The man who hates does not smile, he merely smirks; he is incapable of making a joke, only of bitter ridicule; he can’t be genuinely ironic because he can’t be ironic about himself. Only those who can laugh at themselves can laugh authentically. A serious face, quickness to take offense, strong language, shouting, the inability to step outside himself and see his own foolishness — these are typical of one who hates.”

Havel’s career proved that impassioned views can be shared, even exclaimed, without loss of dignity, that one’s deep convictions can and should be subject to improved understanding through dialog and debate. This is what it means to govern in the democratic style, to perform what Havel called “the art of the impossible.” The traits of hate have no role in this art.

President Obama’s recent personal-to-public shift on equal marriage rights is a good example of what I mean.

David Nyberg

Bath 

Before anyone gets too excited about President Obama’s alleged support of gay marriage, it would behoove us all to review his political track record.

In the late ’90s, when Obama was campaigning for the Illinois state senate, realizing that he needed to shore up his Chicago voting base, he supported gay marriage.

Then, in 2008, during his presidential run, he checked the national political winds and stated his opposition to gay marriage.

Fast forward to this week. Obama’s re-election bid is in trouble.

So what does our most opportunistic leader do? Not having the conviction of his own beliefs, he sends out his crash test dummy, Vice President Joe Biden, to fall on the sword first. Seeing little blood spilled, Obama then “courageously” announced his support of gay marriage … again.

And this is what liberals call a profile in courage?!?

Please spare us.

Dennis Gervais

Portland 

In 1996, Barack Obama was running for the Illinois State Senate. He said the following: “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.” (Source: Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune, May 10, 2012)

In 2004, Barack Obama was running for the U.S. Senate. He said he supported civil unions but was opposed to homosexual “marriage.”

During the presidential campaign of 2008, Barack Obama stated: “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage.”

(Last week) he stated that he is in favor of same-sex marriage — his position has “evolved.”

We have two choices here:

1) He has really come full circle from what he said in 1996 — back to full support of same-sex marriage, or

2) When he stated during the campaigns in 2004 and 2008 that he was not in favor of gay marriage, he was lying.

Take your pick.

Terence McManus

New Sharon 

Reader urges others to consider Dill for Senate 

I support Cynthia Dill in her run for the U.S. Senate, and I urge you to take the time to look at what she has already done for Maine. To look at her clearly articulated ideas for Maine’s future and to take the time to watch Cynthia debate and talk about Maine in the next few weeks.

Cynthia is smart, funny, principled and able to transform her ideas into action. She values her family, her community and her state and wants to improve the quality of life for everyone. Cynthia is a worker — she doesn’t just talk about improving the lives of Mainers; she knows how to work within the system to make change.

Cynthia’s enthusiasm for her work on behalf of Mainers is contagious. It’s no accident that she is in a position to be our next U.S. senator from Maine. She worked hard in her years as House representative from Cape Elizabeth. When the opportunity came to serve in the Maine Senate, she wholeheartedly sought and won the seat.

And now there is the opportunity to represent Maine in the U.S. Senate. Cynthia started her campaign in January (before Sen. Snowe’s withdrawal) and has been making her case throughout Maine ever since.

Cynthia is not afraid to tackle the controversial issues and does so in a way that makes the case rather than in a way that increases polarization. I believe her energy, enthusiasm and her progressive ideas would be a breath of fresh air in Washington.

Please take the time to listen to her speak, volunteer for her campaign or have a look at her website. You will see why I believe that Cynthia is the right person for Maine — right now!

Nancy MacCausland

Portland