Passive Hollywood big mouths
James Terpening is correct in his letter (“Hollywood liberals’ bad act,” Letters, yesterday) that no one cares what Barbra Streisand and Michael Moore think politically. But what is so damning about both of them (as well as Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, Sean Penn and other Hollywood big-mouths) is that none of these so-called personalities is doing anything about the problems in their own state. California is on the verge of bankruptcy and these characters are not voicing anything about this crisis. Do you think it’s because Democrats are in control?
HAZEL O. EDWARDS
Eyeing for safety
In your editorial “Biometrics are coming” (yesterday), you mentioned that passport systems will be using retina scans. Actually, retina scanning is not in use anymore. What you probably intended to say was “iris scanning.” Iris scanning (scanning is a misnomer; it is only a digital picture of the iris, not a scan) uses the iris of the eye to generate a code that uniquely defines the individual iris. The odds of two iris codes being the same is approximately 1X1078. That’s a one with 78 zeros behind it. The iris is the most distinctive part of the human body. That includes DNA because identical twins will have identical DNA but completely different irises. If an individual’s iris code is present on the passport, the INS can scan the code into an iris recognition system and then compare it to the live iris code of the individual with the passport. If they match, there will be no question about the person’s identity.
Voting rights for the District
As a registered Republican in the District of Columbia, I want to express my support for Rep. Tom Davis’ advocacy of a vote in Congress for the District and I also want to strenuously oppose your denunciation of his proposal in “Home misrule” (Editorial, June 24).
Mr. Davis, a Virginia Republican, is absolutely correct that “it is fair and just to give the nation’s capital a vote in Congress.” This is a moral issue. It is a bedrock principle of republican government that those who are taxed are entitled to representation in their lawmaking body. This is what I always thought the Declaration of Independence said. This is what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights does say. I know of no exceptions to this rule except for the insane, the immature, the criminal and the alien, none of which apply here. But, The Washington Times attempts to lay out another exception: Citizens from the capital have no right to meddle in the affairs of the national legislature. And further, The Times implies, our Founding Fathers said so.
There is no evidence that the drafters of the Constitution thought this. While it is true that they intended that Congress have exclusive jurisdiction over the District, it does not follow that they also thought the District should not have a vote in Congress. Many historians and political figures have said that the lack of such representation is due to an oversight. This was the position of Republican Sen. Prescott Bush, the president’s grandfather, when he spoke in favor of voting rights for the District.
In the Federalist Papers, No. 43, James Madison wrote that he assumed that the states that gave land to the federal government for the new seat of government would protect the political rights of its citizens. But this was not done. When the drafters of the Constitution failed to speak to this issue, Alexander Hamilton, in 1788, proposed a constitutional amendment to allow the District a vote in the House. In 1801, as soon as Congress assumed jurisdiction over the District and its residents could no longer vote in Maryland and Virginia congressional elections, citizens from the District protested and petitioned Congress to amend the Constitution to give the District a vote in the House. So, the idea that the Founding Fathers never wanted the District to have a vote in Congress is an urban myth.
Further, The Times cannot be serious when it contends that, if Mr. Davis’ plan comes to fruition, the District’s one vote in the House would allow it to have an inordinate influence in Congress. Certainly, the District’s one vote among 435 others is sufficiently diluted to avoid any unwarranted meddling.
Mr. Davis, in his advocacy, is just following the post-Civil War tradition of Republicans supporting voting rights for the District. Sen. Bob Dole said in 1978: “The Republican Party supported D.C. voting representation because it was just, and in justice, we could do nothing else.” Bravo, Mr. Dole. Right on, Mr. Davis.
JOSEPH N. GRANO
Legislators walking fine line with bigotry
Opponents of the recent 6-3 U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down Texas’ sodomy law complain that incest, bestiality and bigamy will be promoted and “family values” will be undermined. Where were those people when states throughout the country such as Florida enacted laws that clearly permit acts that generally are considered immoral — acts that are permitted as a result of the enactment of the federal Defense of Marriage Act?
The Marriage Act (28 U.S.C. 1738C) — although most likely unconstitutional — permits states to refuse to recognize homosexual marriages and civil unions. Some states chose to deny full faith and credit to homosexual marriages and civil unions by enacting legislation to that effect as permitted by the Defense of Marriage Act. The refusal to recognize such civil unions and homosexual marriages creates an enigma. Vermont law allows a homosexual couple to enter into a legal civil union, and other states might permit homosexual marriages in the future. After entering into such a same-sex civil union or marriage, either party, or both of them, can lawfully enter into a heterosexual marriage in states that fail to recognize homosexual unions or marriages under their laws. Thus, the civil union or same-sex marriage would not prevent the issuance of a heterosexual marriage license in those states. What an amazingly uninformed attempt by our legislators to promote “family values” by promulgatinglawssupporting “non-family values.”
Our legislators are on dangerous ground when they target groups such as homosexuals with laws that are intended to discriminate against such groups. Their targeted discrimination and complete disregard for the full faith and credit protections under the U.S. Constitution will result in serious unintended results. Each state that recognizes Vermont civil unions (and homosexual marriages when permitted in one or more states) would truly be promoting “family values” in that bigamist relationships would not be permitted in those states. Do the legislators really want to promote “family values,” or are they not aware that their actions legitimize bigamy for homosexuals?
Hatred and bigotry do not promote “family values.” When legislators enact laws based on such hatred and bigotry, they truly undermine “family values.”
WILLIAM K. BUDD
St. Petersburg, Fla.