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State should lead way on same-sex marriage

Sam Hoyt's May 26 Another Voice casts same-sex marriage as an issue of justice, equality and fairness. As a Christian minister, I say, "Amen." People of good will and good faith disagree on this issue. But people of good will and good faith also disagreed on slavery in 19th century America, and the civil rights of women and black Americans in the 20th century. Since we first declared our independence as a nation, America has been working to slowly expand the circle of who is included in the "self-evident truth" that "all men are created equal" and "endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights."

It is a basic tenet of Christian faith that all persons are equally created in the likeness of God and are, therefore, of sacred worth and due the dignity and respect implied by our origins. In a civil society, this plays out as the assurance of basic human and civil rights and protection from civil discrimination. During the 20th century the majority positions among Americans, including Christians, shifted from opposing the rights of women and black Americans (to vote, hold office, own property, participate equally in the workplace) to supporting and assuming those rights as self-evident.

America is now in the midst of a shift from assumed aversion to homosexual relationships to assumed acceptance of the self-evident validity of committed homosexual unions and the full rights of homosexual persons. Many Christians support this shift. I would be proud as a New Yorker to see our state on the leading, rather than the lagging, edge of this shift. And I will be pleased as a pastor when same-sex couples can be joined in both sacred and legal unions.

Ted Brelsford

Pastor, Orchard Park

Community Church

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Kendra's Law violates patients' civil rights

This is in response to The News editorial on Kendra's Law. When we talk about the success of any law, we must balance what we know about its successes with what we understand the underlying failures to be. Such is the case when we discuss Kendra's Law, also known as Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT). This law violates the civil rights of those with mental health disabilities.

The local mental health community can balance the results of the Duke Study referenced in the editorial with comments by the New York State Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors, who state concerns regarding the presumption of removing someone to a hospital based on his or her failure to take medication, submit to blood tests or urine analysis, or comply with drug and alcohol treatment. In their words, "This creates a major violation of the person's rights, and is most likely unconstitutional."

Remember that the success of this law is based only on whether they take medication. There are other forms of treatment that can perform the same function, yet are not considered. Many people with serious mental illness live productive, meaningful lives, without being forced into treatment, by developing relationships with people who are assisting them on their level. We should not solely measure these programs' success on something that can be considered both archaic and one-dimensional.

Expansion of Kendra's Law is not just limited to requiring judges to review orders or requiring review before release from a hospital or jail. This bill also allows for the forcing of living arrangements on an AOT recipient, which could deny employment and valuable community participation. It requires physicians to gather information about AOT recipients from friends and family, without the consent of the recipient, violating rights to medical privacy.

Maura Kelley, CPRP

Director, Mental Health

Peer Connection, Buffalo

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Attitudes must change regarding red lights

I don't have a strong opinion either way on the value of red-light cameras, the politics involved or the revenue-producing issues associated with them. However, I think it's important to keep things in perspective when discussing them.

I'm not a traffic engineer, but have an engineering degree and have worked in transportation safety for 15 years. There were issues brought up in a recent letter concerning the use of these cameras as a negative entity. The writer suggested that simply increasing the time that both directions' signals remain red was an inexpensive way to reduce accidents. While a decent suggestion, it's very shortsighted. Once drivers learn they have extra time to run red lights (and they will), they will pass through them considerably longer after they have changed. That's just delaying the same effect.

Also, the writer suggested that red-light runners (apparently small in number) will weed themselves out through fatal crashes caused by them. He should be aware of the fact that most fatalities in same-size vehicle intersection collisions are in the vehicles that get T-boned -- not in the vehicle with the driver running the light. That driver gets the full benefit of frontal impact safety equipment and features, which are much more advanced and beneficial than that of a side impact. People need to change attitudes. That's why the issue most likely will never really go away, cameras or not.

Dan Boldt

Orchard Park

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Black Rock reviews ignore the sad reality

Oh my goodness, such hyperbole. I live in Black Rock and own three properties here. I love Black Rock and pray for its revival, but the May 29 News article was a hoot and a half.

The Experienca Latina (the restaurant mentioned) may be "getting a lot of buzz" but it must be because we are all so sad that it went out of business last summer. When was the article written? I very much want to live in the Black Rock that was described and the prospering Amherst Street it covered so glowingly.

Of course, when I walk that same street, trying to avoid the pit bulls that attack the fences as I pass and keeping a wary eye on the groups of sullen-faced kids with their pants down around their thighs, what I notice most is the growing graffiti, the overgrown yards, the empty storefronts, the broken sidewalks with the trash blowing by and the stop light at the intersection where I cross to Our Lady of Black Rock Church and the kids cross to the school. It has gone from being pedestrian friendly with "walk" and "don't walk" lights to the current permanently flashing yellow light.

I see the art establishments mentioned and I praise the artists who run them but honestly, how many locals shop there? How many out-of-area folks shop there? As for the new restaurant coming in, I wish it well, truly I do, but it never seems any closer to opening and I doubt us locals can afford it.

I know The News and the Amherst Street folks have their hearts in the right place with their glowing reviews of Black Rock, but unless more money is poured in to fixing the prevailing blight, our area is not going to prosper.

Ronni Fox

Buffalo