Re "Divided court rejects Prop. 8," Feb. 8
It really was no surprise that a panel of the liberal U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled as it did on Proposition 8, California's gay-marriage ban. But how the three judges arrived at the ruling is troubling.
It really started with the California Supreme Court's ruling in 2008 that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right. Of course we know that it isn't -- and neither is marriage between a man and a woman. But by incorrectly defining the basic premise of the argument as a right -- though without support in law -- not only have the judges misapplied the law, they have opened the door to the inclusion of any number of look-alike rights.
How long will judges get away with misinterpretations of the law like this?
As we move toward a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, I can only hope that the backers of Proposition 8 are researching how things are going with gay couples in the few states that have recognized same-sex marriage for some time.
I'm guessing they would find there have been very few divorces among gay couples, that the children of same-sex couples are healthy and well adjusted and that no heterosexual marriages have been destroyed by the legalization of gay marriage. Nothing has changed.
A key element of the Proposition 8 judicial decision is "animus." Judge N.R. Smith's dissenting opinion seems to underscore that when he says, "The family structure of two committed biological parents -- one man and one woman -- is the optimal partnership for raising children."
I read that statement as animus toward all adoptive families and those conceived through donated sperm as well as those carried by surrogates. His statement is also animus to single parents who, though biological, are not two.
Finally, if natural procreation is the only validation of marriage, my husband and I, who are heterosexual and childless, should have our 30-year marriage dissolved, as we have no place in this definition of marriage.
Teachers or machines?
Re "Hyping tech will not help students," Column, Feb. 5
No, hyping tech will not necessarily help students learn, but it's possible that technology could help kids in a more basic way.
Ask any parents about the problems associated with lugging 30 pounds of books around. Textbooks, particularly at the middle and high school levels, are enormous and represent not only a load to carry but a formidable ergonomic hurdle for small bodies.
What if a large and influential state could spur developers and textbook publishers to come up with a "hardened" tablet that did one thing and only one thing very well: digitize textbooks and present them in an easy to read, easy to highlight format? Parents could choose to buy or rent them as an alternative to "free" paper textbooks.
Kids might be more disposed to actually read them. And Apple could hype something else.
Michael Hiltzik speaks with great clarity about the marriage of politics and money in his column on Secretary of Education Arne Duncan pitching for Apple products in classrooms.
I am amazed how good teachers still show up in classrooms while receiving so little appreciation for their ability to connect with students. It's very sad that we can't acknowledge the gift of learning with and through each other as the fundamental basis of education.
There's a line from a Bob Dylan song: "The man in me will hide sometimes to keep from bein' seen, but that's just because he doesn't want to turn into some machine." Are we asking children to be good students and fit into the money machine?
Two sides of Israel's fence
Re "Walled off and without recourse," Column One, Feb. 7
The Times focuses on the impact of Israel's security fence on local Palestinians. It is crucial to understand that the fence was erected out of necessity.
Over the course of three years, before the construction of the fence, more than 100 Palestinian suicide bombers attacked schools, restaurants, nightclubs and malls throughout Israel, killing more than 1,000 innocent civilians. Israel had no choice but to construct the security fence, which put a stop to the bombings.
Fences can be removed. Had there been no bombs blowing up buses, there would have been no need for a fence.
We hope for the day when Palestinian leaders end glorification of violence and instead promote a culture of tolerance and return to direct negotiations for peace with Israel.
The writer is the Israeli consul general in Los Angeles.
And this is the "only democracy in the Middle East"? Israel has many ways to rid itself of Palestinians; the separation barrier is only one of them.
I'm appalled. To think we've sent billions of dollars to Israel over the years, given it hoards of military armament and supported it unconditionally at the United Nations -- not to mention the clear possibility of having to fight a war with Iran.
Our government should conduct its Middle East policy based on what's right, not what's in the best interest of Israel.
Lou Del Pozzo
Road to ruin
Re "A transportation train wreck," Editorial, Feb. 3
Thank you for the editorial. Transportation policy is a mundane topic that affects all Americans and deserves more coverage.
I keep wondering why Republicans' only answer to moving forward is to rehash ideas of the past. The time for cleaner energy and learning from our mistakes is now. We can no longer afford to mistreat Mother Nature for our own benefit.
Do Republicans not remember the Gulf of Mexico oil spill or the Minneapolis bridge collapse? Those of us who do remember want a transportation bill that helps create jobs through safe projects, not one that ignores current problems and pushes more oil and gas exploration.
Los Gatos, Calif.
Re "To save Mohammad," Opinion, Feb. 7
Firoozeh Dumas' beautifully written and chilling portrayal of her humorous textual interactions with Mohammad, her translator, and of Mohammad's imprisonment by Iranian authorities for doing nothing other than translating a funny book is a reminder, once again, of the power of humor and the threat it poses to intolerant regimes.
Though I recognize it is naive on my part, it might behoove us to pressure our American and Israeli leaders who are debating bombing Iran to pool our vast creative resources and work alongside dissident Iranians to develop an alternate comic strategy to the military one. Who knows? It might save us from the regional conflagration that seems to be in the works.
Fed up with Syria
Re "In Assad country, a quiet Syrian village tips into revolution," Feb. 7
How many more dead children being carried to their graves by shell-shocked parents must we see before we literally put boots on the ground to stop the Syrian government from killing its citizens? Russia, China and the United Nations be damned -- it's past time that the Obama administration, along with the rest of the civilized world, put an end to this slaughter of innocents.
We cannot and should not let another day pass without bringing the hammer down on these criminal regimes that are murdering their own people.