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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

May 8, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Petition to undo gay benefits

Value equality? Decline to sign

It seems as though we are still living in the days of Greek mythology. Like Sisyphus, the stone of equality in marriage laws for all Washingtonians had been pushed near the summit of realization through the state Senate’s passage of Senate Bill 5688. But just as weary activists were ready to celebrate this victory, as monumental as the civil rights struggle of 40 years ago, along comes another far-right effort to send the stone of equality crashing back down into the abyss of bigotry and hate [“Religious right split on push to undo gay benefits,” [News, May 5].

A coalition of “values voters” have filed Referendum 71, which will place SB 5688 before the voters in November. Simply by filing, the right has succeeded in delaying enactment of this expansion of domestic-partnership rights to all areas of state law until at least July 26, the deadline for gathering enough signatures.

For those concerned with marriage equality, there is only one strategy — decline to sign 71. Don’t let the forces of hate and bigotry win another round. When the paid signature gatherer put Referendum 71 before you, be polite, but firmly decline: “No, I don’t agree with your petition. All Americans deserve equal protection under the law.”

— David Palmer, Des Moines

Hold taxpayer-funded churches accountable

The government loses hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue by granting tax-exempt status to religious organizations. Translation: We, the citizens of the U.S., pay hundreds of billions of dollars more in taxes so that churches, mosques, temples, etc. can exist in a much-favored tax-exempt environment. The rational here is that they are supposed to do good for society by engaging in activities that help people, unite people and incite the will of others to do even more good and help even more people.

Instead, religious organizations consistently and predictably have lead the most extravagant and expensive anti-gay campaigns in history for the sole purpose of harming people in our society. There is absolutely no benefit gained by a straight person when a gay person is harmed.

We should all know that zero good comes from hurting people. Churches should know this better than anybody, and they do not because so many of them are now largely political entities.

The IRS needs to take action in its role as our fiscal agent. Unless a church, or any other tax-exempt organization, can show that they are causing good for society — or at the very least not causing harm — they should not enjoy their taxpayer-subsidized existence.

We are paying, in more ways than one, for the actions of the religious institutions that we voluntarily and involuntarily support. Every single taxpayer supports every single church. It’s time for some realistic accountability.

— James Lenhardt, Seattle

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