- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Homosexual group applauds the New York Times

Each week, nearly 6,000 people visit New York City's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, the largest LGBT community center on the East Coast. What many in our community are seeking is a sense of belonging in a world that often chooses to ignore or discount their existence. With its decision to publish announcements of same-sex unions, the New York Times has taken a monumental step toward erasing the invisibility of lesbian and gay couples in our nation and world. Contrary to the criticisms directed at it from some quarters ("New York Times eyed for bias," Nation, Aug. 20), the New York Times merely recognizes what the LGBT center has long recognized: Same-sex couples do exist; they do make commitments; and they do celebrate their unions. Media coverage should reflect this reality.
We applaud the New York Times' decision and urge other newspapers that currently fail to publish same-sex announcements to follow its lead.

ROSALBA M. MESSINA
Chief financial officer/chief operating officer
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center
New York

Talking Turkey

M. James Wilkinson's Friday Op-Ed column "Turkey's tangle with Europe" is insightful yet not beyond reproach. Particularly on the Cyprus issue, your readers (bored as they may be with this decades-old dispute) may be interested to know that it is the Turkish Cypriot side which has proposed certain relevant features of the Belgian model for the future partnership state in Cyprus as well as certain elements from the Swiss, German and Canadian models. The responsibility for failing to adopt the relevant features of these models rests with the Greek Cypriot side.
As far as the issue of sovereignty is concerned, the Turkish Cypriots are not "demanding" sovereignty; they already have it. What is at issue is how much of their sovereignty the two existing sovereign states on the island of Cyprus (i.e. the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Greek Cypriot Republic in the South) will yield to the future partnership state in the context of a comprehensive settlement. The Turkish Cypriot position, borne out of concrete experience, is to retain sovereignty in areas which will fall under the powers and competencies of each partner state. Otherwise, the Greek Cypriots will have a free hand to repeat their past crimes against the Turkish Cypriots and present them to the world as an "internal matter."

OSMAN ERTUG
Representative
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
Washington

Pricey weasels' big escape worth the risks

I would like to respond to Teresa Cory's letter ("Liberated unto death," Friday) criticizing animal activists for releasing mink imprisoned on a Midwestern fur farm.
She apparently opposes the action because, according to the fur-farm owners, some of the liberated animals were killed as they escaped run over by cars, attacked by dogs, etc. However, doesn't she realize that 100 percent of the mink would have been killed by October if they had remained in their small wire cages?
Month after month, these sentient creatures endured the torture of intense confinement where undercover video footage of fur farms show animals frantically and relentlessly whirling, pacing and biting the bars, clearly driven insane. Also, no federal law regulates the way in which these animals are killed. Common methods include anal electrocution, neck breaking and gassing, which doesn't ensure a quick death, causing some unfortunates to wake up to the horror of being skinned alive. In comparison, getting hit by a speeding car may not seem so terrible.

CAROLINE KWELLER
Rockville

Pakistan struggles to pacify militant religiosity

The article "Pakistan fights to end 'Kalashnikov culture'" (Page 1, Aug. 20) deserves appreciation for accurately tracing the roots of terrorism in Pakistan. But the Kalashnikov culture was not the only legacy of the 'jihad' against the Soviets in Afghanistan. It also paved the way for the rise of the multi-headed hydra of religious extremism with its natural concomitants of sectarian violence and terrorism against Christians, foreigners and moderate, enlightened Pakistanis.
Religion has since been used as a political tool in Pakistan as well as in many Middle Eastern countries. It was used on a massive scale in Pakistan by Gen. Zia ul Huq to legitimize his military rule spanning 11 years (1977-1988). During this period the tendency to abuse religion established deep roots in the country. Vocal and violent religious sectarian and other fanatical groups and parties proliferated with the active support of the regime. Even the mainstream political parties succumbed to this unhealthy temptation. The entire body politic appeared infected with this pernicious disease. Pakistan's support for the Taliban prior to September 11 was a symptom of this cancerous ailment.
President Pervez Musharraf, who enjoys the support of the overwhelming majority of ordinary Pakistanis, is leading the country in the right direction. He is committed not only to fight the war against terrorism internally and at the international stage, but has also to uproot the main cause of terrorism in Pakistan: religious fanaticism, bigotry and intolerance. In this struggle he has literally put his life on the line and deserves total support, especially of the people and the government of the United States as well as that of patriotic Pakistanis.

FAIZ ARIF
Germantown

Wrong rank

The caption on the photo accompanying the article "Coast Guard tightens patrols" (Metropolitan, Sunday) identifies a sailor as a "seaman 2nd class."
During my 20-year career in the Navy, I would occasionally hear that term, in a context such as "back when Nimitz was just a seaman 2nd class," or "I'll bust you back to a seaman deuce." I believe that there was such a rank in the World War II era, but it hasn't existed for at least 40 years.
Very likely sailor Tim Herbin is a petty officer 2nd class, a 2nd class boatswain's mate, a 2nd class boiler tender or one of about a hundred other specialties of the pay grade E-5.

NORM BIRZER
Frederick, Md.

Building controls contribute to high quality of life

Looking around for someone, or something new, to cudgel, columnist Eric Peters has decided to pick on the general public for trying to protect their home values and quality of life ("Affordable-housing crunch?" Op-Ed, yesterday).
It is not government "intrusion," as he calls it, that is responsible for the recent popularity across the country of slow-growth and smart-growth legislation. These land-use plans are not conceived by politicians in smoke-filled back rooms and forced on an unsuspecting public. On the contrary, they are the result of grass-roots movements of ordinary folks, across the political spectrum, who want a half-way decent life for themselves and their children. They want to protect what they have, and who can blame them? They have seen what unlimited sprawl can do to communities. Sure, there is a bit of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) syndrome in all of us, and it's a good thing, too. Mr. Peters' libertarian ideas of trashing restrictive zoning laws has a certain populist appeal, but saner, more mature heads tend to conclude that controls on building density and use are needed.
As housing prices rise in desired areas due to slow growth and smart growth, low-cost housing developers will just have to move farther out to locate less expensive land to develop. Our metropolitan areas are loaded with people who would be a lot happier living much farther out in less settled areas of the country. High land and housing prices are designed to encourage them to sensibly relocate to where they can get more housing for their money. The "market," while good, is not the answer to everything.

ROBERT SHARP
Executive Director
Leadership Forum Coalition
Fairfax

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