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Letters to the Editor: October 27, 2012

Westrom worked to protect life

As our State Representative, Torrey Westrom has fought hard to preserve the sanctity of human life. While chair of the House Civil Law Committee, Torrey helped pass bills that would have reduced the number of abortions in our state. One of those would have prohibited abortions after 20 weeks, the point at which many physicians believe unborn children begin to feel pain. He also stood up for our values by voting for a bill that prohibited taxpayer money from being used to provide abortions.

Torrey supported bills that would have put stricter requirements on abortion facilities and abortion drugs. One bill would have required abortion facilities, like other places that provide medical procedures, to be licensed by the state. This legislation came in response to a situation in Pennsylvania, who illegally performed late term abortions and caused a woman to overdose on painkillers. Another bill would have required a physician to be physically present when RU-486 was administered.

Sylvester Uphus - Sauk Centre, Minn.

Schultz is needed at the Legislature

I just witnessed the Pioneer TV debate and earlier a candidate forum between Torrey Westrom and John Schultz. What a contrast! Schultz is thoughtful, articulate, and realistic. Westrom parrots the same old generalities - meat ax approach to teacher evaluation, global warming is a hoax, "clean" coal is just wonderful and let's cut taxes. But not a word about how to fix the rut the state is in, not a word about the importance of educating kids now for the jobs of the future. I talked to Schultz and he has a firm grasp of the dangers to human health from coal-fired utilities, has farmed for years and is so expert on farm policy he's endorsed by Congressman Collin Peterson. He's the kind of guy we need at the Legislature.

Jeanne Johnson - Alexandria, Minn.

Good Christians will be those who support gay marriage

Raised in the nineteenth century, Mark Twain said that when he was a boy he "had no aversion to slavery," mainly because his preachers "taught us that God approved it, that it was a holy thing, and that the doubter need only look in the Bible if he wished to settle his mind--and then the texts were read to us to make the matter sure." One of the Biblical passages frequently cited comes from Leviticus: "Slaves, male and female, you may indeed possess, provided you buy them from among the neighboring nations" (25:44). Twain's mother was a Bible-believing Christian, and until her dying days, she continued to believe in slavery because her pastors told her the following: since the Bible clearly supports slavery and never clearly condemns it, you must believe in slavery to be a good Christian.

There are preachers today who tell their flocks that they must reject homosexual marriage because the Bible condemns it. Those preachers who make this claim would be the same ones from the nineteenth century, who told Christians that they need to support slavery in order to be good Christians, because the Bible is pro-slavery. Most Christians before the 1850s supported slavery because they read the Bible literally, but by the late nineteenth century, that version of Christianity was rejected, so the good Christians were the ones who were anti-slavery.

Before the year 2000, most Christians believed that homosexuality is evil because they read the Bible literally. But that version of Christianity is on its deathbed. By the year 2030, the good Christian will be the one who supports gay marriage. At that time, people will look at Christians who oppose gay marriage in the same way they look at pro-slavery Christians.

Michael Lackey - Morris, Minn.

All have a right to happiness in being married

I have a gay nephew and a lesbian niece, both in committed relationships.

I have no idea if either want to get married, but it bothers me that if they do want to marry their same sex partner, they can't in Minnesota or have it recognized here. If the amendment passes Nov. 6th, it will be even harder for them ever to marry that partner. Is that fair? Oh, I know for eons marriage has been between a man and a woman, but times change. Being gay is not a life choice; God made my nephew and niece gay, and they have a right to happiness in being married.

Both were cradle Catholics, but neither consider themselves Catholic anymore due to the Church's views on same sex marriage and its stance on this amendment.

Stories say the Catholic Church is spending a million dollars to get this amendment passed; money the archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis said came from investment funds and not from the collection plate. Either he is naïve or misinformed, because right here in Morris, over $800 was collected to help pass this amendment by passing the basket during a weekend Mass. I'm told the same was done throughout the Diocese of St. Cloud, as well as in other diocese in the state.

And even if most of the money came from investments, maybe the million dollars or so would had been better used to counsel couples, so they'd not get a divorce, helping women to have a child instead of aborting it, feeding the hungry, educating our young people and helping the poor.

Ted Storck - Morris, Minn.

Minnesota has rich history of voter fraud

Minnesota has a rich history of voting fraud over the last ten years. In 2008, 1,099 ineligible felons voted in the general election; almost 200 have been convicted. In 2008 there were 25 precincts with more votes than voters. In 2010, an election judge in Harris, Minn. tried to stop 12 cases of voter fraud when the address of a laundromat was used by all 12. There were over 7,200 unverifiable postal verification cards resulting in challenged voter status that remain outstanding in the 2008 and 2010 elections. In 2012, an employee of Secretary Mark Ritchie's was accused of registering to vote and voting under a fake name in the 2004 and 2008 elections.

Recently, at a township meeting in Appleton, I was stunned to hear Senate candidate, John Schultz, say "I want to listen to your concerns." Later he went on to say "there is no voter fraud in Minnesota" in response to a question about voter fraud. How many townships could 7,200 votes nullify?

Steve Fults - Donnelly, Minn.

Westrom works for veterans

As a veteran I have been keenly aware of the hardships some veterans have had to endure when returning home after serving our country. In recent years, more and more of Minnesota's veterans are returning home to a tough economy. It's critical that, once home, they are able to secure the assistance needed for a successful transition back to civilian life. To help them, Westrom has supported increasing the higher education assistance program budget by almost one million dollars per year, and expanded the Minnesota GI Bill to help more veterans obtain apprenticeships and job training.

Even more, Westrom wanted to help get veterans back to work. He voted for a tax credit for businesses that hire unemployed veterans, which would have made a huge difference for veterans.

During the past session, Torrey again showed his support for the veteran and helped push through legislation to help the "Beyond The Yellow Ribbon" program, an organization that links volunteers with needs of families of active military members. That program continues to grow in towns and counties around Minnesota and provides much needed relief through volunteers to military families in times of great stress, and I'm positive that he will continue to support the organization.

Again, as a veteran of our country, I urge all veterans and their families to vote for Torrey Westrom for State Senator.

Jim Johnson - Herman, Minn.

NRA follows party lines

I read with interest the article on how the NRA rates politicians, and would like to add my comments. First I own all the firearms noted in the article, and none of them or my ability to use them has been affected by any laws proposed or signed by our current president. To my knowledge he has not signed any Federal Law affecting firearms rights since he was elected. But what some special interest groups have done is create a fear of this happening so that firearms and ammo prices have risen rapidly. It seems that the NRA follows party lines to spin this web. This is a very important election, as they all are, and we must be aware of all special interest groups and how they try to affect the outcome of who we vote for. In closing, I am a Life member of the NRA and have been a member for over 40 years, and I totally support the Second Amendment, just not some of the political games played by special interest groups. No matter who you vote for, one must review all the facts prior to entering the voting booth.

Ron Jacobson - Alexandria, Minn.

Westrom is the common sense candidate

As part of reducing government red tape and getting people back to work, as a State Representative, Torrey Westrom stood up for many common sense reforms. The first bill introduced in the State House eliminated needless obstacles in the environmental permitting process, and fast tracks appeals through the court system. This bill helped transportation projects and other new construction get going faster, providing much needed new jobs and commerce throughout our state.

On top of that, Westrom, a 2012 recipient of the NFIB Guardian of Small Business award, has pursued other initiatives to level the playing field for small businesses around the state. One of his bills would have required the legislature to approve any new agency regulation that costs small businesses or our small cities more than $10,000 to implement. That common sense bill was vetoed. Westrom also championed the Small Business Bill of Rights, which established a "bill of rights" for local units of government and small businesses to prevent state agencies from hammering small businesses or local units of government with huge fines for minor infractions or violations they did not intentionally commit.

Jeff Backer Jr. - Browns Valley, Minn.

Disappointed with McNamar's position on social issues

I expect my elected officials to be open and honest with me. When I vote for someone, I look for leadership.

That is why I am so deeply disappointed with Jay McNamar's positions on issues of family values and morality. First, I read the recent letter about McNamar's decision to switch his position on abortion in the middle of his campaign. At first, he claimed he was pro-life and sought the endorsement of pro-life groups. Then, just a few weeks later, he told the public that he was pro-choice. Now, McNamar is refusing to tell the public his position on marriage.

During a recent town-hall forum in Elbow Lake, a local resident asked how the candidates would vote on the marriage amendment. Most of us would think that candidates have two possible answers to that question: yes and no. However, McNamar made up a third option - to leave his ballot blank. He told the audience that he was so angry that they were wasting his time with the issue that his plan was to not vote on the amendment.

I expect my elected officials to be mature enough to tell the truth.

Kenny Peterson - Breckenridge, Minn.

12A deserves real leaders

We need new leadership in the Minnesota legislature. The last session was dominated by failed partisan politics, divisive social issues, raising our property taxes, and borrowing money from schools to pretend the deficit was "fixed." Vote for "job-creator John" Schultz instead of the career politician Westrom. Vote for Jay McNamar instead of the slick divorce lawyer Scott Dutcher. 12A deserves real leaders.

Shawn Olson - Alexandria, Minn.

Amendment helps protect marriage

First, the marriage amendment protects marriage to keep it according to God's plan, God's design is one man and one woman. Everyone is free to love anyone or anything they choose but that does not make it a marriage. Vote YES for God's design.

Regarding Voter ID, a photo ID is required for everything from cashing a check to entering the Democratic National Convention. We need voter ID to help protect us from voter fraud which is far too common even in Minnesota. The Amendment itself explains that the Minnesota Constitution will require the State "to provide free, identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013."

Vote YES on both amendments! If you leave the ballot blank your vote will be counted against the amendment.

Lauren Sansness - Cyrus, Minn.

"Yes" makes good societal sense

An amendment is needed to preserve the civil institution of marriage which is based on the natural order of two sexes, male and female, complementing each other primarily toward the creation and care of children. Why is redefining marriage a bad idea for all?

First, the long term experience of cultures and civilizations across history and geography has proven that the model of a two parent family, father and mother, is in the best interests of children. On a public policy level, marriage is about raising healthy children for the stability of a healthy society for future generations.

Second, religious freedom is at stake. The adoption agency of Catholic Charities in Massachusetts denied same-sex couples from adopting a child. In March 2006 they decided to close down their adoption services rather than face prosecution over their tax-exempt status which would cripple them financially.

Third, not everyone who had same sex attractions desires to be gay or lesbian. There are many who are confused and questioning their own sexuality. Same-sex marriage sends a wrong message to these people. The transient nature of the gay lifestyle does not lend itself to a life-long commitment. Committed, monogamous gay relationships are the minority. Gay marriage would inflict greater devastation to children caught up in these relationships.

Finally, heterosexual marriage has served societies well for thousands of years though many marriages today are troubled. Supporting the Marriage Amendment best serves the common good of civil society with respect to the authentic nature of human rights and respecting those with same-sex attractions without delving into an unknown social experiment for the sake of convenience.

Rev. Marlin Mohrman - Sr. Pastor, Morris Evangelical Free Church

Voter ID is most important issue

Perhaps the most important thing on your ballot this year is the so-called "Voter ID" amendment to the Minnesota Constitution. This is because this poorly-thought-out proposal may actually take away one of our most sacred rights from large portions of the public, maybe even you.

The right to vote is so important that the U.S. Supreme Court has long put it in the category of "fundamental rights," rights that are absolutely necessary for democracy to function. As such, it cannot be limited or denied for any but the most overwhelming reason. Poll taxes, which make the voter pay to cast his or her ballot, are unconstitutional. So are literacy tests, which deny the right to vote to an otherwise intelligent voter who cannot read well.

But, say the proponents of "Voter ID," everyone these days has photo ID. Most people use their driver's license for identification almost daily. But this proposed amendment does not just require any old ID card. It must be a government-issued photo ID, with a current address.

No birth certificate? You will have great difficulty getting the government voting card. Moved lately? If your driver's license doesn't have your current address, you may be turned away from the polls. Trying to use your job or student ID? Sorry, if it isn't government-issued, it won't cut the mustard.

But, say the people who thought this up, some of these people will be able to use a new procedure called "provisional" voting. All it means is that they will give you one more chance to get your voter ID, get to the County Courthouse, and prove up your ballot. A huge hassle if you are old, disabled, and/or don't drive.

There are zero instances of anyone impersonating another voter at the polls in Minnesota. So all this anti-voting, government boondoggle is unnecessary. But even if there were a need to improve voting procedures in Minnesota, this amendment would not bring about that improvement.

Elizabeth J. Hinds - Morris, Minn.