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Time will tell
Family Policy Council lobbyist John Rustin says that homosexuals can in fact get married in North Carolina, "just not to people of the same sex." (Triangles, March 2)

Substitute the words "a different race" for "the same sex" and you have the very argument made by those who opposed interracial marriage in North Carolina only a generation ago.

The Common Sense Foundation just published a study comparing the language of opponents of gay marriage to that used by bigots who opposed interracial unions. The study, available at, shows just how wrong the would-be moralists are who would tell other people who they may and may not marry. History will not be kind to them, just as it has not been kind to outspoken racists.
David Mills
Executive Director, Common Sense Foundation

More on Rider
Mary Rider's First Person essay misrepresents the views of the Dalai Lama as someone whose "pro-life" views are in accordance with hers. Dalai Lama speaks directly to the issue in his latest book On Happiness. When asked if a woman should consider aborting a fetus with serious defects, His Holiness says:

"Now your example regarding the decision to a abort the fetus with a birth defect--no one really knows what would be better in the long run. Even if a child is born with a defect, maybe in the long run it would be better for the mother or the family or the child itself. But also there's the possibility that taking into account the long-term consequences, it is better to abort; maybe that could be more positive in the long run. But then who decides?" (pages 138-139)

It can be fairly said that the words of His Holiness do not support Rider's blanket assertion that "abortion is never a good choice." Rather they convey a reverence for life that includes compassion for the finite resources of this planet and the women on it.
Kathy Vreeland
Chapel Hill

Rider responds
Judging from the many conversations and e-mails generated by my First Person ("I'm against war, the death penalty--and abortion," Feb. 23) it is clear I am not alone in my views.

Despite claims that abortion is "as safe as penicillin," there is much evidence to the contrary. The tobacco industry used to tout the lie that smoking is harmless. The abortion industry (it is a business) tells similar lies.

Abortion's side effects are real, yet women considering abortion won't be told about them. Why is abortion a litmus test for feminism and a progressive worldview? Many early suffragists opposed abortion, as do countless progressives today.

Abortion is misogynistic and lets men off the hook. After all, if a woman becomes pregnant, why should the man do more than offer to pay half on the abortion, and maybe hold her hand at the clinic?

Few women religious leaders support the consistent life ethic, because there are very few women religious leaders. Abortion hasn't brought women equality in the marketplace. It's not the end all, be all of feminism.

I am Catholic, but my organization is not religious. Consistent Life includes Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, witches and nonbelievers. I'm not a papal puppet. My Catholicism informs my conscience. It doesn't dictate it. My conscience is also informed by my work with death row inmates, as a social worker with hospice patients, and by my father, a decorated Marine and veteran.

The controversy generated by my column is proof positive that abortion needs to be discussed in progressive circles. Thanks to the Independent for living up to its name and mission by opening a door for discussion that has been closed for far too long.
Mary Rider
Executive Director, Consistent Life

Don't get foxy
What is all this finger-wagging going on in Back Talk about what the Indy should and shouldn't print? In one letter, Anu Kumar was "disappointed that the Independent chose to run an article so riddled with false statements as Mary Rider's First Person column" and instructed you "to speak responsibly as a voice of the progressive community and to refrain from printing misinformation." And Sherryl Kleinman and Michael Schwalbe requested that the Indy should "spare us [which "us" is that, exactly?] the Republican-lite (and old-fashioned sexism) masquerading as progressive thought."

I, for one, exhort, entreat and encourage the Independent to continue to print everything; misinformation, disinformation, progressive or regressive, even the occasional fact, if one can be scared up, and leave it up to your readers to make of it what we will. Don't "refrain" or "spare us," please. The sine qua non of Fox News is that it presents its audience with information tailored to its beliefs and biases, effectively shrinking its audience's world. Please continue to enlarge ours, without regard to whether it pisses us off.
John Browner

talk back.
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