March 14, 2013

Letters to the editor: Collins' marriage stance disappoints

I am disappointed Sen. Susan Collins did not join the rest of the Maine congressional delegation in urging the Supreme Court to find the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional ("Only Collins hasn't signed court brief supporting same-sex marriage," March 2). This shows a lack of political courage on her part.

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Sen. Susan Collins’ decision to refrain from urging the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act “shows a lack of political courage,” a reader says.

2009 U.S. Senate photo

Her spokesman stated that Sen. Collins "believes the issue of same-sex marriage is best addressed by the individual states, as the voters of Maine decided in November."

Voters in Maine did not decide that the issue of same-sex marriage is best addressed on a state-by-state basis, and it is not a valid reason for her inaction. Our country rejected "states' rights" as an excuse to deny human rights back in 1861.

The people of Maine have spoken -- they support same-sex marriage. A couple who chooses to get married in Maine -- every such couple -- deserves the right to have that marriage recognized by every state in the union. Sen. Collins does a disservice to her constituents by failing to represent that point of view nationally.

The national press inexplicably continues almost invariably to label Sen. Collins as a "moderate." Increasingly, as her stance on DOMA illustrates, that is not true.

Mainers do not like extremists -- Gov. LePage is a prime example -- and Sen. Collins is coming closer to becoming one. Small wonder she and the governor get along so well.

Marc Rigrodsky

AMHI memorial not worth cuts to hard-hit services

I read with disbelief the article about the Legislature's potential funding of a $50,000 Augusta Mental Health Institute memorial ("State may fund AMHI memorial," March 4).

According to the article, the AMHI Cemetery Project and Rep. Terry Hayes, D-Buckfield, asked for funding because their own efforts have been slow.

I'm sure it's a worthy project, but we must weigh the cost of a memorial against the recent state curtailment, which forced massive cuts to needed services.

Particularly hard hit have been some of our most important programs: mental health and education.

The state has no business spending $50,000 on one group's pet project in these tough economic times. It was irresponsible to ask, just as it would be irresponsible to approve it. The fact that their own fundraising is moving slowly should show that this is not the right timing.

I believe those currently dealing with mental health issues would rather see the money spent on programs, not on a memorial that won't provide actual services for those who struggle today -- just as I'd rather see the money spent on education. My district lost our Excel department, band programs, after-school tutoring, 15 ed tech positions and more.

These are just some of the "highlights" of the damage done to one district. It's by no means a comprehensive list, nor does it take into account the coming sequestration cuts.

Telling any of the people whose jobs have vanished that the state would rather spend what little money we have on a memorial is unacceptable.

I don't have anything against the AMHI group, but asking for these funds now is a mistake. I think that deep down, they "get" that. I desperately hope our legislators will vote against this colossal misuse of this state's precious and dwindling funds.

Karina Chapman

Early education programs help reduce violent crime

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