With the fall of the Defense of Marriage Act, gay people will emerge from second-class citizenship as more states recognize same-gender marriage.

Coming out of the closet — being visible — has had the greatest effect on changing hearts and minds. It has taken great courage to live life openly, to hold hands in the park, to be truthful at work, with family, neighbors and friends.

I believe there is another step needed to fully claim first-class citizenship. It is to use the language of marriage.

Once upon a time, we toed the line and dutifully used the word “partner” to refer to our mates. Using this term is like taking a seat in the back of the bus. When I hear legally married same-gender couples use “partner,” I would like to ask, why? Why allow language to thus proclaim, “separate but equal”?

For me, “partner” felt safer. It had been comfortable for 16 years. Then my mate began to die.

As I cared for him, I knew I was losing my husband. I swore to use only that word, for only “husband” describes the love, commitment and depth of loss we shared. Only “husband” reflects the status we deserved and needed at this time of tragedy and vulnerability.

I believe the language we choose reflects and influences the way we think about ourselves and the way others regard us. As holding hands in public makes our spirits soar and the public take notice, so will our use of “husband,” “wife” and “spouse” strengthen relationships with each other and our communities. It will inspire more people to help spread the freedom to marry.

It is not enough that our marriages be seen. Our words must reflect the empowerment we seek.

Eliott Cherry

Portland

MaineCare expansion veto move toward responsibility

Led by Justin Alfond, the Legislature passed the bill offering Maine-Care to 69,000 more people.

The bait was that the federal government would pay 100 percent of the cost for the first three years. But Maine would have had to pay 10 percent of the cost thereafter.

I never saw any mention of how the federal government would get the money to cover this expense. The answer is clear. They would have paid for this by increasing our taxes!

Then the federal government would not decrease our taxes, but Maine would have had to increase taxes to cover the additional 10 percent of the cost. The result: less money for those who work for it!

While a recent article in the Press Herald (“Hospitals: Maine Medicaid expansion would help,” June 18) reported that hospitals claimed that expansion of the Medicaid program would help them by reducing the amount of free care they deliver, they apparently had not considered that MaineCare already owes the hospitals $480 million in unpaid bills.

I wonder why the hospitals thought Maine would be able to afford to pay them in the future when expenses increase. Maine cannot cover the current cost of MaineCare. It is clearly not reasonable to think that Maine-Care would be able to cover increased expenses, especially with the lagging economy in our state, which is near the bottom of the list in income.

I am not writing to promote any political party or individual, but the veto of the bill was good for those of us who work and pay taxes in Maine. It is time that the working people of the state start to think about what it is that is happening, and demanding fiscal responsibility by all branches of our state government.

Dr. John Kazilionis

South Portland

Criticism of smoker offers much judgment, little help

Earl Harnden’s letter (“Babies have no respite from secondhand smoke,” June 27) was so appallingly denigrating to a whole group of people that it should not have been published any more than if he had used the N-word about an African-American.

He simply assumed that a woman (“girl”) with three children whose cigarette smoke blew into her baby’s face was “probably a state case” and that she was paying for her “butts” with taxpayer dollars. For all he knew, she was a baby sitter! He didn’t know anything about her.

We all receive a little government assistance — more at some times in our lives than others. It helps everyone if young children aren’t starving or the elderly destitute.

If I had three young children, no help from the father and my child care cost more than I could earn, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families would be a matter of survival for my children. (Survival would be hard on TANF. The maximum TANF grant for a household of three is only $485 per month — $585 if you have high housing costs.)

Mr. Harnden, we are all fallible human beings. We are all trying to do our best given the reality in which we live. If all you do is put whole groups of people down, how can they find good situations from which they can rise? How do you find a good job if everyone assumes you are inferior simply because you need TANF?

The “welfare” stereotype makes our society worse. Did you assume she cheats? Did you assume she is lazy? Stop. Have some compassion. Consider what you don’t know.

And next time you write a letter about secondhand smoke, remember that very good people become horribly addicted. You could even give out the number for the Maine Tobacco HelpLine (800-207-1230). Then, Mr. Harnden, you might do some good.

Mary Henderson

Scarborough

Michaud can’t depend on his party to vote as a bloc

I believe the state Democratic Party would make a huge mistake in selecting Mike Michaud for governor. He is not popular in southern Maine, and he would not win.

Why? Because Democrats are not pushovers. Only a small percent of Democrats vote along party lines, to the tune of approximately 15 percent. For example, Cynthia Dill got 13 percent of the vote in the last election.

In other words, the vast majority of Democrats vote for the person, and not just the party. In contrast, Republicans are solid for Paul LePage at 34 percent because of the Reaganites and tea party members.

Eliot Cutler came two weeks short of a victory last time. Now I do not see enough Democrats shifting over to elect him.

Among the three men, I strongly feel Eliot Cutler is the man for us as an independent. Right now, I favor Cutler, period, though I will keep my mind open for Michaud.

But hell would have to freeze over before I would ever put the current “baby boy” back into an office of respect. He has dirtied the governor’s chair.

Bill Perreault

Brunswick