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Redefining marriage is what upsets people

I've read the letters regarding same-sex marriage. One side says that the "sanctity" of marriage needs to be protected, while the other deems the debate to be over civil rights. The opposed quote the Bible, while those in favor equate the matter with the civil rights movement, slavery and people "not liking gays."

Is this what this debate is really about? I don't know anybody who doesn't believe that gays should have the same rights as everyone else. Nowhere in any of the letters is the redefinition of marriage addressed. Why is it necessary to redefine the institution of marriage, which is based in religion, and thousands of years of history? Why is it necessary to legislate that "straight" and gay unions are the same thing? They aren't the same thing, any more than apples and oranges are the same thing. Wouldn't it be more prudent to call gay marriage by a name that isn't in conflict with the institution of marriage? Why is it necessary to cram this down the throats of people who object, for whatever reason? Couldn't equal rights for gay folks who wish to "marry" have been achieved, without redefining an institution?

I think it's clear that the great majority of people who have opinions have the issues defined by "NBC Nightly News" or the Internet. They simply don't know what they're talking about. Shouldn't people be able to figure out what the issues are on their own? Or can't we take the time to do this for ourselves, in this fast-paced world? This issue could have been solved without the debate. A huge majority of our population favors equal rights for everybody. Equal rights for people desiring a "civil union" would have been passed in a landslide.

Patrick McLaughlin

Tonawanda

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Buffalo River Fest Park is a gem on waterfront

Buffalo has a new jewel along the waterfront. Buffalo River Fest Park is a gem, a first-class addition to Buffalo's other waterfront areas. It has been elegantly designed and executed with quality lighting, a brick band shell, superb signage from the National Park Service explaining the history of the park area, a trellis-like covering over a patio with stunning benches for enjoying the river, wide sidewalks for strolling, an expansive lawn, along with beautiful trees and other plantings.

Executive Director Peg Overdorf and the Valley Community Association deserve tremendous credit for their diligent work in bringing this park, a many-years dream, to completion. Projects may move slowly in Buffalo but when finally done and done so well, what excitement, pride and enrichment result.

Marcia Frankel

Williamsville

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Land bank will help area manage distressed housing

I would like to publicly congratulate our state legislators on their recent passing of the land bank bill. This legislation is crucial in that it will help us manage the ever-increasing "distressed housing" situation in our communities, not only in the City of Buffalo, but throughout Erie County. Additionally, this law will institute crucial land banking legislation through the New York State Legislature.

The Distressed Properties Task Force, which spearheaded this legislation, was composed of community leaders, bankers and real-estate groups who spent long hours working on ways and means to reduce the distressed property blight in our neighborhoods. It is validating that, with this new legislation, a project begun by the Distressed Property Task Force in the summer of 2006 will finally bring about effective change.

As a former chairman of the task force, I strongly encourage Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign this legislation into law. I firmly believe that it will provide our communities with more effective ways to address and reclaim housing and business properties throughout Erie County.

Bob Reynolds

Former Erie County legislator

Hamburg

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Arts organizations need to do more fundraising

Bruce Andriatch may not realize it, but when he discussed the elimination of some sports in suburban schools due to budget restraints, he was inadvertently drawing up the way the arts people in Buffalo may have to deal with things in the future. The people in the suburbs have long been used to having to fund various activities on their own.

Everything from Scouting to Little League sports as well as many school sports. For many years now, we have been blackmailed by the school districts in that when they wanted to raise taxes, the first thing they threatened the parents with was the elimination of sports, arts, music, theater, etc. They beat us over the head with these threats, so what's new?

So here's the deal. I hope the county executive read Andriatch's column so he will know what to say to these people when they demand that their activities be funded by the taxpayers. Let's see actors in Shakespearean garb selling 5 0/5 0 tickets between acts. Let's see other acting groups selling candy and candles like we have had to do to support the activities we prefer. And why not raffle off some art? By the way, when these groups realize the artistic freedom that comes with self-sufficiency, they may just be glad they went that route.

Patrick Kelly

Grand Island

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Book shows Fillmore is unworthy of adulation

As a proud citizen of Buffalo and an Irish Catholic, I read with pleasure the review of Paul Finkelman's biography of Millard Fillmore. After years of enduring the local glorification of this home-grown bigot, it was refreshing to read in our hometown paper the truth -- that the 13th president is someone we should be ashamed of.

African-Americans and Catholics make up the vast majority of the population of the City of Buffalo, yet on the steps of our City Hall is a statue of a man who had only contempt for both groups. There are many leaders from Buffalo, including another president, that our children should look up to. A powerful man who stood for intolerance and oppression is not one of them.

Patrick J. Curry

Buffalo

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Nothing can be gained in Iraq and Afghanistan

I'm looking for information to prove me wrong. I believe that ultimately, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and any other country we feel the need to get involved with will end up the same as if we were never there. I believe there are government officials who also believe this. I believe our involvement will be a complete waste of time and money. I need specifics. After we have left these countries, I want someone to explain to me what was gained. Nothing vague. I need specifics, and I shouldn't be the only one.

Daniel E. Doherty

West Seneca