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August 29, 2012 at 6:30 AM

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Referendum 74's effect on the community

Well done, Cheryl Chow

We will be soon voting to approve Referendum 74, the marriage-equality bill passed by the Legislature, and it is especially poignant that Cheryl Chow has come out as gay after 60 years of secrecy [“For Chow, ‘a last crusade’: discussing life as a lesbian,” NWSunday, Aug. 26]. It is time to give up false syllogisms and stereotypes, and grant gays all their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, including marriage.

Chow, dying of brain cancer, distinguished herself as schoolteacher, principle, Seattle City Council member, School Board member and as Chinese girls drill-team coach. Chow’s life work was public service, and nurturing and bettering the lives of youth.

Chow’s mother, Ruby Chow, former County Council member and granddame of the Chinese Community, would be proud. Why? Because it is the right thing to do. Cheryl’s life is a positive counter to many false beliefs and stereotypes about gays. As a former judge, I have a lot of knowledge of people’s biases.

There is lingering discrimination against gays in education and working with youth. Gay youth are even prohibited from membership in Boy Scouts of America.

An unspoken, but lingering false syllogism is that gay equals child molester. While gays could be child molesters, I have also had straight, married and fundamentalist individuals plead guilty to child molestation. I have never seen any evidence or studies that establish a higher propensity to child molestation among gays.

Another lingering belief is that being gay is “catching.” This real but absurd belief says that gays should not be around children, lest the children become gay. That promotes discrimination against gays in teaching, child care, youth work and even adoption. Again, there is no evidence to show that children taught by or reared by people who are gay are any more prone to becoming gay than other children.

With people like Chow willing to “come out,” even after a life lived in the closet, the next generation of children may not have to face ridicule, bullying and discrimination in education, association, employment and marriage.

Well done, Cheryl Chow.

— Faith Ireland, Seattle

Separation of church and state needs to be applied

Outspoken opposition to same-sex marriage does seem to be primarily based in religious belief, and the issue here that bothers me the most is that the major opponents of this are trying to impose their religious beliefs upon the state and/or the country in a civil-law manner.

As members of whatever religious organization, I am confident that they would oppose any attempt by another religious organization to impose upon them a civil-law based on another belief. Yet, here they are, trying to do that same thing.

I respect any religious organization’s right to impose restrictions upon it’s members, but civil law is not the vehicle for pursuing religious beliefs, not in the United States! The same-sex marriage issue is strictly and simply a civil-rights issue. Members of a family who have spent their life supporting that family, supporting the community, paying taxes and contributing to society, should have the same rights as members of a heterosexual family, especially where surviving-spouse rights are concerned.

Can you imagine living with your partner for decades and being denied bedside contact as that partner lies dying?

This issue needs to be clearly defined; separation of church and state needs to be applied here.

— Jim Aliano, Kent

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