Gay marriage

Amazing. The California Supreme Court has decided that gays and lesbians are people, too ("Calif. court legalizes gay marriage," May 16)! That we should be free to make good and bad decisions like other people, that we should be able to assume responsibility for our relationships and enjoy the privileges that come with that responsibility. Of course the religious right is already raving about "activist judges" and "letting the people decide."

Two points need to be made here.

First, judges, in making decisions, are always activist, whether deciding who should be president in 2000, desegregating schools in 1954, or including gays and lesbians in marriage equality. Decision is action.

Second, until 1967, the people had decided that denying interracial couples marriage equality was just fine. The recent death of Mildred Loving, the African American woman who dared to marry a white man (and was arrested for it!) should remind us that to put the rights of citizens to a vote is neither moral nor does it represent the tenets of American Democracy.

When was the last time your rights were up for referendum vote?

James F. Davis

Gulph Mills

Make schools safer

As a retired teacher, I can attest that Jack Stollsteimer's report on school safety is right on the mark ("State faults city schools' security," May 14). The fact that his job was threatened testifies to the unwillingness of officials to take needed steps toward the safety of our children and teachers.

The teachers' union has advocated for smaller classes and schools, and for more teachers and aides, for years. Many of our schools feel like holding cells. Small schools create a sense of community and are more effective learning environments. In small schools, principals can involve themselves by being in the classrooms every day, and working with teachers to establish unwavering, consistent standards of behavior.

Violence is pandemic because the school district isn't adamant about punishing those responsible and protecting our children and teachers. If Stollsteimer's suggestions were put into practice, we would make headway against the violence.

Judy Rubin

Philadelphia

Beer sales

The Sheetz hearing is not about whether six-pack sales should be limited to taverns but whether Sheetz's refusal to allow on-premises consumption violated state law and whether sale in a restaurant/convenience store is permissible ("Selling beer: This Bud's for you," May 13).

The Inquirer asks readers to disregard concerns expressed by "surly beer sellers." Is it really acceptable to reject the validity of someone's argument because of his disposition?

The Inquirer also has problems with the meaning of

monopoly

. There are 1,300 licensed beer distributors in Pennsylvania - all of them individually owned. If Sheetz or Wegmans or any other chain obtains multiple beer-sales licenses, how would their chain operations increase competition?

The state's beer laws were written to control access to beer and alcohol - particularly access to minors and people with drinking problems. Fundamental changes to those laws may be desirable, but that's a task for the legislature.

Mary Lou Hogan

Executive secretary

Malt Beverage Distributors Association of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia

Pity the rats

In Susan White's letter regarding the tragic assassination of Philadelphia police Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski (Inquirer, May 13), she takes offense at the comment that the suspect was "living like a rat." By all reported accounts of how Eric Floyd was living, in an abandoned building with no electricity or water, the description sounded accurate.

She also said such language contributes to the polarization between police and African Americans. That is quite a leap of logic. How does the fact that one individual who chose to live in these conditions affect a whole race of people? I would think the rats and cockroaches would be more upset for having to live with this lowlife.

Joseph D. Kenny

Philadelphia

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