Pastor Sandy Williams of First Baptist Church of Freeport (Another View, “Civil marriage and religious marriage are one and the same,” June 22) wants us to believe that religious people have always marched in lockstep and that he knows what all Christians must believe.

Perhaps he’s forgotten other teachings — from the same Holy Scriptures — that emphasize God’s inclusive embrace: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:7-8). Surely this doesn’t refer only to heterosexuals.

We who see marriage equality as a fresh and authentic incarnation of God’s love are dismissed as “renegade preachers and aberrant religious groups.” I’m one of the growing number of Christians who believe Jesus was all about barrier-breaking as he confronted the religious establishment of his day.

Over 40 years of ordained ministry, I’ve extended God’s blessing to hundreds of couples. Each has promised faithfulness and permanence. That’s a high and holy commitment. Our congregation believes making and honoring such promises builds the common good. That’s why they’ve authorized their pastors to extend God’s blessing to both straight and gay couples.

Same-gender couples have always lived among us and are a valued presence in our families, communities and congregations. The fact that some religious people condemn them doesn’t diminish the truth that same-gender marriage will come in city hall and will be blessed in many of our sanctuaries.

I, for one, “renegade preacher” that I apparently have become, will celebrate that day along with many other people of faith — and those who may have given up on the narrow and rigid forms of religion that want to push gays and lesbians back into the closet.

The Rev. John B. McCall

First Congregational Church, UCC

South Portland

As Mainers consider their vote on same-sex marriage this November, they might reflect on a couple of recent news items relevant to the discussion.

The first is that David Blankenhorn, president and founder of the Institute on American Values, a recognized author, speaker and consultant on traditional marriage, made a public statement June 22 that he was recanting his opposition to same-sex marriage.

In his op-ed in The New York Times, he stated, “The time has come for me to accept gay marriage and emphasize the good that it can do.”

Noted, also, in the news was the marriage of Dick Cheney’s daughter Mary to her long-term partner on June 22 in Washington, D.C. The Republican former vice president and his wife were quoted as saying, “We are delighted that they were able to take advantage of the opportunity to have that relationship recognized.” The couple has two children.

The District of Columbia, along with six states (New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and Iowa), recognizes same-sex marriage. Nine states recognize domestic partnerships or civil unions.

I recently retired to Maine from Massachusetts and can verify that the quality of life for everyone only improved in Massachusetts after it approved same-sex marriage. I hope Maine will follow suit.

Thomas W. McClain

Kennebunk

Piece on global warming misleading, irresponsible

This spring, one of my 11th-grade environmental science students asked, “Didn’t some prominent scientists at NASA change their opinion on climate change? I saw an article about it in the Portland Press Herald.”

I asked her to send me the article, which turned out to be an op-ed written by M.D. Harmon that appeared in your paper April 27 (“Changing their tune on global warming trend”).

Op-ed contributors are often considered reputable experts on the subject matter they are discussing. Because the public perceives op-ed pieces as a source of information, the editorial staff is obligated to evaluate whether a contributor’s piece will forward the discussion of important issues. In printing Harmon’s piece on climate change, the Portland Press Herald failed to serve the public trust.

For anyone who has researched climate change, it was easily identified as an outlandish misrepresentation of scientific evidence. For everyone else (and that includes many busy, hard-working people), there was no measure by which to put his statements into perspective.

By printing the Harmon piece, you gave it credibility it didn’t deserve. Your choices help form people’s opinions, and once formed, those opinions are difficult to change. Recent research in human behavior indicates that presenting scientific evidence to those who deny climate change does nothing to sway their opinion. While this is irrational and certainly sad, we have all seen that it is true.

It took my class a few days of research to form evidence-based opinions about human-induced warming, but most people don’t have the luxury of time — and neither does the planet.

The recent failures of the Rio+20 Summit highlight the inadequacy of top-down leadership in combating climate change. This further underscores our need for an informed populace, and your need to take responsibility for informing them.

Neil Rice

Portland

No matter your politics, Collins deserves praise

Sen. Susan Collins has never missed a single vote since she took office in January 1997. She recently topped 5,000 votes cast during her tenure. Five thousand consecutive votes is a very impressive record. Whether one agrees or disagrees with her position on every one of those votes should not diminish the deep commitment Sen. Collins has demonstrated to the spirit of the democratic system and to the people of Maine.

In fact, Sen. Collins has cited the dedication of working Mainers as her inspiration to make it to the Senate floor each and every time. Her commitment to her job and her appreciation of the impact that each vote can have on her constituents stand as a model of representational government.

With the elections just around the corner, it is my hope that newly elected and re-elected federal and state legislators will work as hard as Sen. Collins to examine the challenges we face in Maine.

The needs of a constituency facing challenges around health and long-term care, unemployment, hunger and age discrimination deserve our elected leaders’ concerted and undivided attention.

Carol Kontos

AARP Maine state president Windham