Two recent responses critical of your editorial favoring the Williston-West rezoning make arguments in favor of exclusively residential use based on examples of other churches and other locales. The representative churches presented are all very different from Williston-West.

The buildings cited as returned to residential use by Maine Medical Center were all residential to begin with. It is worth noting that those neighbors most convinced of the validity of residential use are trained in the law and work with words. On the other hand, the neighbors trained in design, who work with bricks and mortar (architects), see the enormous design and financial difficulties of renovating and supporting this large, historic building exclusively with residentlal units. Several local housing developers have confirmed this view. An added impracticality is the absence of any on-site parking.

As one who has designed many building renovations in my architectural career, I can attest that the adaptability of any structure is dependent upon its configuration and condition. Not all buildings are created equal. Williston-West cannot be feasibly converted to residential use because of its particular configuration and Portland’s Historic District restrictions on design. If the opposition can propose a viable residential re-use specific to Williston-West, I am ready to listen.

The proposal under consideration is an excellent adaptive re-use with less impact on the historic building and neighborhood than any residential re-use with its associated parking. The preservation of Williston-West is of citywide importance. The neighbors should recognize this and work together to ensure that rezoning language provides appropriate protections to the building and the neighborhood.

Paul S. Stevens, AIA

Portland

There’s a middle ground on same-sex marriage

The battle lines are formed again on this upcoming referendum on same-sex marriage. Could we hope these battle lines would disappear if we give a heartfelt reflection on the two issues that seem to be central?

A reflection on compassion and consideration: The same-sex advocates are looking to their opponents for compassion, and I believe the overall readiness to sanction civil unions and grant to these unions all the same privileges and benefits of traditional marriage is proof that compassion is abundant.

Traditional marriage advocates do not want to stand in the way of anyone’s happiness. They also are not standing in judgment of those of differing views, but only request the consideration of their beliefs. The marriage title is the name of their belief — the belief that marriage is a union both civilly and sacramentally of one man and one woman. They want to stress the sacredness and inalterability of the marriage title.

Traditional advocates cannot allow the marriage title to be redefined and shared without sacrificing the integrity and meaning of marriage for themselves. The title cannot encompass any union that is the antithesis or opposite of what they believe should be valued in marriage.

Compassion and understanding are sought by the same-sex advocates, and consideration of their beliefs and understanding is sought by the proponents of traditional marriage. Is there a compromise that would satisfy both sides?

Is there a title that would appeal to the same-sex advocates, other than marriage, with all the same rights and privileges?

May everyone regardless of their orientation continue to receive compassion, and may the ordained, deeply revered, one man and one woman definition of marriage receive its due consideration.

Peter Pinette,

Coalition for the Integrity of Marriage Caribou, Presque Isle, Fort Fairfield, Limestone, Caribou

It is not discriminatory, unfair or unjust to define marriage as uniquely between one man and woman. And there is no reason for supporters of this view to feel apologetic or embarrassed or afraid.

Collapsing homosexual marriage into heterosexual marriage can only be done if the definition of marriage is reframed as a love relationship between any two people. While love between any two people is a beautiful thing, marriage is not an institution whose definition is to be reduced to love alone.

Marriage serves a function in civilized society to bring together men and women who can have a child within the context of a committed relationship that socializes that child and stabilizes society. It is not discrimination that prevents homosexual couples from conceiving children. It is unwise to minimize or marginalize the importance of the connection between children and married, biological parents. In addition, there is something deeply symbolic, integrative and holistic about uniting the two genders into a relationship of body, mind and spirit.

Though they share some similarities, heterosexual marriages and homosexual marriages are not really the same, and treating them the same is what really is discriminatory.

Thomas R. Moyer

Kennebunk

Dump Dennis the Menace for more relevant cartoon

Picture this Mother’s Day morning. I am sitting in my living room with my wife and daughters. My 7-year-old is reading the comics, and reads out loud the Dennis the Menace cartoon where the incompetent father burns the toast, ruins the eggs and changes the breakfast-in-bed plans to going to a restaurant.

This outdated depiction is not what my daughter needs to be exposed to. In this day and age, the men in our community play a greater role than just the buffoon in the kitchen. We are not the helpless men dependent on our women to serve us as in the original days of Dennis the Menace.

Hank Ketchum, the creator of the strip, died last year, but the strip continues. It should be updated to reflect the current values expected of today’s society or replaced with a more relevant comic.

Candorville is a comic strip dealing with real issues and 21st-century life featuring a high-powered female advertising executive and a single dad/blogger/reporter. I would much prefer my daughters be exposed to the values in this comic than the obsolete ideology of Dennis the Menace. Dump Dennis, and bring in Candorville.

Jeremy Stein

Portland