In less than two weeks, Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins will vote on whether to strengthen laws aimed at preventing gender-based wage discrimination.

The bill, which has already passed with a bipartisan vote in the House, is a critical step toward ensuring economic security for Mainers at a time when more and more women are providing a significant portion of family income.

Maine women make just 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, and though there are many reasons for this wage gap, one is plain old discrimination (which helps to explain why women just a year out of college already make significantly less than their male counterparts).

The Senate must act now and our senators, who have been standard-bearers for women’s rights, must vote for and support the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Samuel Lehman

Cumberland

Love they neighbors even if they are different

I am pastor to a local church that is open to and affirming of persons who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning.

I am saddened and appalled that behavior that is abusive to persons who are perceived to be in any of these categories occurs frequently in varying degrees in our society.

From simple comments made in school halls and on city streets, to Internet assaults made through social media, to actual physical violence, persons perceived to be different for any of a variety of reasons are attacked and bullied with painful and often dire consequences.

These behaviors are not distant events that go on someplace else. They happen in our midst on a daily basis.

I write this letter in support of my LGBTQ neighbors who must now feel less safe, and to tell others young and old that there are people in churches and communities who are willing to stand with them.

I preach the message of God’s love for everyone, even that we can hate the hurtful deed while reaching out to and praying for those who in their brokenness hurt others.

And may every person of faith work for and pray for a day when violence of any kind will be a distant memory, and those who can be seen as different will know they are safe wherever they are.

The Rev. Dr. Bruce Burnham

Alfred Parish United Church of Christ

Alfred

Hunting on Sunday both sensible and safe

Firearms season for deer in Maine (when a majority of hunters are in the woods) is roughly 26 days a year. That means that around 340 days a year you have no fear of being shot by a deer hunter while enjoying Maine’s outdoors — not that there is any real danger from being shot in the first place.

Hunting accidents have become extremely rare in the last several decades with blaze orange clothing and effective hunter safety courses now mandatory.

Furthermore, hunting accidents involving non-hunters are all but nonexistent. ATV and snowmobile accidents kill and injure far more people in a year than will die or be seriously hurt in hunting accidents in a decade.

The idea of Maine’s woods turning into some sort of Dodge City full of wild men shooting indiscriminately every November is both alarmist and out of touch with reality.

The one month out of the year that firearms hunters enter the Maine woods should be a full month, Sundays included. All of us who enjoy the outdoor opportunities this state has to offer should get a fair share. I think 30 days a year for deer hunters isn’t asking that much.

Jeremy Smith

Old Orchard Beach

Shopping trip to Maine takes a very big toll

I drove to Portland from Portsmouth last Saturday to rent a conga drum, a prop I needed for a Halloween party. I rented the drum for $22, and was pleased with the shop and the price.

On Sunday, I returned the drum, and after I got home entered the money spent into my expense system. Total cost: drum, $22; taxes and tolls to the state of Maine, $13.10.

Those of you wondering why the recession is lasting so long or why you can’t get a job may now wonder how long it will be before I return to Portland (or Maine) to spend a little money — and pay a 59.5 percent penalty to the state.

Both Manchester and the Boston area are about the same driving time for me. And much cheaper.

Arthur McCray

Portsmouth, N.H.

Detailed voting results show every vote counts

Thank you for reporting town-by-town results in the governor’s race and 1st District congressional race.

It’s interesting to see how close some of the races were. For instance, in Frye Island, Dean Scontras won by 1 vote; in Cumberland, Chellie Pingree won by 2 votes.

Long ago I became aware that each vote counts. I grew up in North Arlington, N.J., where, many years ago the mayoral race was decided by just one vote. I was grammar-school age but I remember it well since it was a much discussed election.

Again, thank you for dedicating space for election results.

Jacquelyn Dolan

North Berwick

Neighborhood anticipates winter farmers market

It’s great to hear that the winter farmers market is considering a move to the Irish Heritage Center. I hope the city’s Planning Board will support the idea by passing the zoning change that will make it possible. Locating the market in a residential neighborhood encourages people to leave their cars at home and walk: a perfectly “green” idea all around.

Ellen D. Murphy

Portland

A great comics page could be even better

My name is Sam Healey. I am 11 years old and I read your comics every day. They’re really good, but it would be a great newspaper if it had the comic strip Ollie and Quentin. It is a comic strip about a seagull and a lugworm. It is the best comic strip ever!

So if you could put Ollie and Quentin in the Portland Press Herald, I would read the newspaper more.

Sam Healey

South Portland