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All citizens entitled to marriage equality

I write because it is time for marriage equality. After years of being denied our civil rights, the time has come to pass this chapter of the civil rights movement. And it is as a Democrat I urge the Republican Party to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) civil rights.

We are extremely proud of our Democratic supporters who have been so steadfast in their support of civil rights. But it is time for civil rights to stop being a partisan issue. I urge Senate Republicans to take an independent and principled stance and support civil rights, and pass marriage equality and the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act.

Our community cannot afford to wait on the whims of the political winds for our civil rights. Without the state and federal rights and protections that come with a marriage, couples are forced to seek imperfect and expensive solutions to protect themselves, their health, homes and children. Without the legal protections of marriage equality, I and countless other couples and families live with the constant fear that we could one day lose everything. Without GENDA, citizens live with the fear that they are not protected from discrimination when seeking employment or housing.

In a world where many LGBTQ young people take their own lives because they see no way through the oppression and to the freedom on the other side, our government, regardless of political party, needs take a stand and outlaw discrimination and segregation in all forms and pass marriage equality and GENDA.

Bryan Ball

President, Stonewall Democrats of Western New York

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Why isn't anything done about high electric bills?

In answer to the gentleman who wrote the June 16 letter, "PSC offers no help on crazy utility fees," no, you are not the only one with high "delivery" charges on your electric bill. My most recent bill was $64.80. I used $18.72 worth of electric -- all the rest was delivery charges and taxes. The sad thing is I live in a very small one-bedroom apartment.

My daughter, who lives in New York State Electric & Gas territory, lives in a three-bedroom house, has central air, two refrigerators and a finished basement. Her electric bill for the same month was $10 less than mine. I hope someone from National Grid reads this and wonders, as I have, why New York State Electric can supply the same utility for so much less.

Marilyn J. Avery

Lackawanna

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Grass is always greener on other side of fence

A recent letter compared, unfavorably, New York's taxes with Florida's. The writer bemoaned the fact that New Yorkers pay about double that of Floridians although the states are similar in population. Well, you get what you pay for.

I've lived in Florida for six months each year for the past 17 years so I know of what I write. According to the Morgan Quitno smartest and healthiest states' indices, New York ranks 16 and 27, respectively, while under-taxed Florida ranks 29 and 46.

The lack of comprehensive state planning and regulations has allowed Florida developers, theme parks, the sugar and potash industries and others to ravage the environment, despoil the Everglades and endanger the aquifers, critical to the state's fresh water supply.

Insufficient government oversight has loosed on unsuspecting consumers dishonest and shoddy auto mechanics, home repair contractors, attorneys, payday lenders, for-profit colleges, etc.

Even with the lower taxes, the Forbes 2010 Best States for Business ranks New York 21 overall to Florida at 26. In the subcategories of economic climate and quality of life, New York comes in at 9 and 11 to Florida's 36 and 39 as a result of Florida's undereducated work force, lack of adequate infrastructure and substandard health care. As I mentioned, you get what you pay for.

H. Martin Moore

Ridgeway, Ont.

Port Richey, Fla.

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Allentown Art Festival is becoming a craft fair

I attended the Allentown Art Festival this year. Sad to say, I hadn't gone for quite a few years. Even sadder is what I found when I got there. While there were a few displays of the unique art I expected, I mostly felt like I was at a craft show. And there were way too many food tents and trailers mixed in with the art tents, making it feel like a country fair, not an art show. When did this happen? This used to be a first-class show.

We can attend food shows, carnivals and craft fairs during the year. They shouldn't be part of the Allentown Art Festival. Maybe Allentown needs a new slogan. How about Allentown Art Festival -- For Real?

Barbara Connors

Williamsville

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Critics of Israeli policy face more intimidation

Defending Israel's ruthless treatment of Palestinians has been made effortless. Time-consuming research becomes unnecessary, often dangerously provocative. The functioning paradigm for the discussion of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict continues to be the David (Israel) and Goliath (Palestine) legend: David symbolizes courage and goodness while Goliath represents cowardice and treachery. Apparently, any characterization that compromises this modernized variation on the Biblical story is rendered confrontational and unacceptable, even shameful.

The writer of a recent well-researched Another Voice was accused of being insensitive to the deaths of American soldiers because he dared to assert that Israelis not only deny the right of Palestinians to exist, but are also guilty of aggressive acts against several Arab countries. Would-be critics of Israeli policy, then, face more intimidation: Often accused of being anti-Semitic, they must now face charges of Anti-Americanism.

The late Israeli sociologist, Tanya Reinhart, boldly described Gaza as "a system of prisons, studded with Israeli settlements, isolated from the world, and controlled both from the outside and from the inside by the Israeli Army."

Fran Weiss

Williamsville

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Though Weiner has quit he still reaps benefits

The saddest thing in all this Anthony Weiner debacle is that, despite all the lies and ramblings, he will not only get a retirement package, he will also get a health care package -- all paid for by our tax dollars. And Weiner is not the only one who will benefit. All of our elected officials -- Democrats and Republicans -- will benefit from this despite doing nothing at all except lie to us.

Rose Marie Ash

Buffalo