Readers comments 7.19.13

All kinds of families

Dear Editor:

Douglas Lyon’s tirade against the Supreme Court’s decisions on marriage equality raised the specter of the “degradation” of “the well-being of our children,” so I thought it worthwhile to toss my hat in the ring.

My wife and I have been madly in love for 20 years, co-parents for 13 years and federally recognized as a couple for, oh, about 19 days now. She supported me in attaining a PhD. I supported her in starting her own business, teaching violence prevention skills to children and teens.

We adopted 2 sons from the foster care system when they were each almost 6 years old. Both boys (born into “traditional” families, incidentally) were exposed to abuse, neglect and criminal activity. Both were considered “difficult to place.” They are now 18 and 13.

Our elder son, having been prenatally exposed to drugs, struggles with learning disabilities. Our younger son struggled for years with behavioral issues associated with trauma.

Today, thanks to the support of great neighbors, wonderful teachers and their loving moms, the boys are doing fine. The 18-year-old has a full-time summer job and a post-graduation position in forestry, while the younger, an honor roll student at El Roble and member of California Junior Scholarship Federation, is spending his summer volunteering with both the Red Cross and Danbury swim programs on weekdays, sometimes for several hours a day. He also has his own dog-walking business. You may have seen him, Mr. Lyons, decked out in Dodgers gear and happily trotting around the Village, working to earn money for college or more baseball paraphernalia (depending on how well the Dodgers are doing: he is, after all, only 13).

We’re fortunate to live in Claremont, a welcoming community in which our sons have always proudly introduced us as their “two moms” and have never felt the kind of shame about their family that some adults try to kindle. And we’re proud of our boys, who know how to demonstrate open-minded maturity, respect and kindness for people from all kinds of families, even those that don’t look like ours.

Janise Roselle, PhD



The wisdom of gay marriage

Dear Editor:

Employing his usual discursive style, Douglas Lyon takes 578 words to question the wisdom of gay marriage (COURIER, July 12).

On the winding road, he criticizes our mayor (implicitly), chides the Supreme Court, and touches briefly on incest, 5000 years of human history, moral hubris, racial discrimination and the superiority of the nuclear family.

Your prejudice is clearly on display. Where is your evidence?

When 2 people of the same gender adopt a child, it is not an accident. It is a deliberate act expressing their determination to provide a loving home for a child bereft of either a father or a mother. This is one of the great ironies of opposing adoption by gay partners: the children they adopt have been failed by heterosexual couples who have abandoned their children to the foster care system.

Let me emphasize this fact—gay couples provide loving homes to children abandoned by their birth parents. When the nuclear family fails, the same-sex couple provides a secure place for that child to thrive.

Remind me again about the superiority of the nuclear family.

Mark Merritt



Fourth of July thanks

Dear Editor:

Our family would like to extend our sincerest thanks to the city of Claremont, the Fourth of July Committee, and all of the wonderful supporters and participants of the city’s Fourth of July festivities!

Our daughter, Elaine Ulmer, was this year’s theme contest winner and was feted that day in so many special ways, from leading the Pledge of Allegiance to attending a special reception with many local, state and national dignitaries to riding in the parade in a beautiful vintage Corvette. She said it was one of the best days of her life! What a memory she will have of that day for the rest of her life.  So thank you, as Claremont truly “Rocked the 4th!”

Stephanie, Christopher

and Elaine Ulmer



Human rights

Dear Editor:

Douglas Lyon is adamantly opposed to same-sex marriage, but his recent letter to the editor (COURIER, July 12) does not provide a persuasive explanation for his negative opinion.

Mr. Lyon invokes historical precedent, citing a lack of support for same-sex marriage over 5000 years of civilization. He is not deterred by the prevalence of wars, slavery, torture and denial of basic rights for most humans throughout our glorious past. As a proud conservative, Mr. Lyon is wary of any expansion of rights, now that he has his.

He does imply that “past discrimination” based on race was wrong, but Mr. Lyon does not consider that relevant to the issue of equal rights for gay people.  He offers an interesting distinction: Discrimination based on physical characteristics, such as skin color, is bad.  However, discrimination based on particular “behavioral” differences, such as sexual activity between certain mutually consenting adults, is good discrimination.

Behavioral differences in and of themselves should not be a basis for denial of rights. For example, I often cheer for the Minnesota Twins. This is certainly unusual behavior, but my legal rights are not restricted because I am not hurting anyone. My behavior is accepted, as it should be, even though it is aberrant (and despite the fact that it is entirely voluntary, i.e., less “natural” than a sexual preference).

So, why is same-sex marriage objectionable? Mr. Lyon presents one specific argument against it. He claims that same-sex marriage is bad for kids. But what is the basis for that conclusion? Is there any real data, any legitimate research, any objective evidence that supports his personal opinion? None is provided.

In an attempt to establish some sort of structure for his case, Mr. Lyon offers a partial definition of marriage, proclaiming that, “the well-being of our children…is…the primary reason for marriage.” That statement devalues many marriages, including those of heterosexuals who marry later in life and all marriages that remain childless, whether by choice or not. By contrast, same-sex marriages do not devalue any marriages in any way.

Mr. Lyon is not qualified to judge anyone’s marriage other than his own. It would be prudent of him to stick with his regular avocation of fossilizing the Constitution. That is another lost cause, but it has the virtue of keeping his nose out of other people’s bedrooms and private family business.

Dave Nemer



A positive step for our culture

Dear Editor:

In the July 12 edition, Douglas Lyon stated his opposition to same-sex marriage and his reasoning behind this opinion. He also made several inaccurate statements some of which I will correct.

First, the role of the Supreme Court is to interpret the constitutionality of laws that have been passed in this country. In doing so change is inevitable. Mr. Lyon goes to the extreme, something he is fond of doing, and states we are living under judicial oligarchy. This is nonsense.

What I find humorous is Mr. Lyon’s objection to the court which is currently made up of a majority of conservative justices. This court has made several decisions that I strongly disagree with, Shelby County v. Holder, Citizens United v. FEC and Bush v. Gore to name just a few. That is the way it works.  Some things you like and some you work to change.

Mr. Lyon further stated that no society has ever condoned same-sex marriage.  This is wrong. Even a cursory search on the Internet will disprove this often-stated fiction. In pre-industrial cultures, homosexual relations were normal in many, if not most, societies. In fact, the notion of having a “sexuality” is relatively new.

Today, homosexuality is mostly accepted in all but the most repressive, excessively religious societies. Same-sex marriage was made legal in the Netherlands in 2001, Belgium in 2003, Spain in 2005, Canada in 2005, followed by South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Portugal, Argentina, Denmark, France, Uruguay, Brazil and New Zealand. It’s also legal in parts of Mexico. The majority of Americans now believe that same-sex marriage should be legal.

Going on, Mr. Lyon states that the same-sex movement is lead by people who think themselves morally superior.  Well, look who’s talking.

Next, he says that children are best raised by a married man and woman, and that marriage is for procreation. Both of these are false. If marriage is primarily for procreation, what about a couple beyond childbaring age, or where one of the partners is sterile, or a couple that simply doesn’t want to have children? Should all of these people be denied a marriage license? No, of course not.

There is no proof that a child raised by a married man and woman is any better off than being raised by a loving single parent, or parents of the same sex. There are plenty of cases of dysfunctional marriages between a man and a women, many involving children.

Mr. Lyon, you don’t have to be a married couple to have children. Many couples are very happily united, have had children and, for reasons of their own, are not married. Many of them make very wonderful, loving parents.

The worst statement Mr. Lyon made was, of course, comparing same-sex marriage to incest. People like him often state that same-sex marriage will lead to marriage between close relatives, animals, groups of people, etc. This is the slippery slope argument and has no basis in fact. Of the 15 countries that allow same-sex marriage, none have made legal marriages involving animals, children, close relatives  or groups of people. Neither will California or the United States.

Marriage is a legal contract and, to many, nothing more than that. The various states grant marriage licenses, not a church or religion. Being married is a contract and comes with many benefits for the couple that chooses to enter into that arrangement. By granting these benefits to same-sex couples we, as a society, are acting to eliminate an unfairness.  This is a positive step for our culture and community because it accepts as equal our fellow citizens that want to be married and have these benefits, regardless of their sexual preference.

Mr. Lyon, your belief in a single definition of marriage is as anachronistic as your belief that homosexuality is simply a behavior.

William Stevenson



Regarding same-sex marriage

Dear Editor:

No, Mr. Douglas Lyon, the Supreme Court does not have carte blanche authority to organize or re-organize society. But the Supreme Court since Marbury v. Madison does have the authority to interpret the Constitution and to enforce our Amendments that are enumerated in the Constitution.

Justice Kennedy rightfully based his decision on the equal protection clause of the Constitution, stating that homosexuals make up a distinct class and that they should be treated equally before the law. There should be no questioning the fact that discrimination occurs against those with a different sexual orientation. It is about time that we recognize the fact that homosexuality is not a choice.

The court held that gay couples should not be treated differently than opposite sex couples. This is what equal protection before the law means. You can not treat one class differently than another. It is really that simple!

It is beyond my understanding how so-called conservatives would want to intrude into the private lives of individuals. Each couple should have the right to be equally happy or unhappy. It is not as if marriage has a huge success ratio. One couple’s marriage does not have any bearing on whether or not another couple’s marriage is a success.

No state has passed a law allowing incest so, at a minimum, that statement is a red herring. Society has a right to change its rules and, at this time, bigamy and incest are illegal.

In their pursuit of happiness, gay couples are now allowed to have the same rights as those in a marriage between a man and a woman in the state of California. There are still 37 states that do not allow such marriages.

Gee, Mr. Lyon, and here I thought the main reason for getting married was because of love. I am highly disappointed to hear you believe that is not true—that we get married to have children. Really?

I suggest that you re-read your Constitution, and I hope that you can realize that equality is emphasized a lot. If among our rights we guarantee our citizens the right to liberty, life and happiness, please have the tolerance to realize that the court wisely decided to insist on equal rights and protections before the law in enforcing those rights that are in our Constitution.

 Gar Byrum



Echoes of Isaiah

Dear Editor:

And another church goes its own way from its governing board—this time it is the Claremont United Methodist going its own way from its General Conference, which forbids United Methodist ministers from performing weddings ceremonies for same-sex couples by saying in the COURIER, “We, as a congregation, have decided not to live in fear of that (General Conference) policy any more and move ahead…”

Just another peg in the fulfillment of Bible prophesy, Isaiah 4:26: “And in that day, 7 women shall take hold of one man, saying, ‘We will eat our own food and wear our own apparel; Only let us be called by your name, to take away our reproach.”

In the Bible, woman is used for the church (such as the “pure woman or pure church” and “scarlet woman or fornicator with kings of the earth” described in Revelation). Food is the word of God, and apparel is the righteous robe of Christ. In those days (end times), 7 churches will pull at one man, Jesus, like taffy, each saying “We’ll decide our own word,” and “we’ll decide on our own what’s right,” but let us be called by your name. 

Would not it be more truthful and compassionate to break away from what is not believed—the Methodist governing board interpretation of the Jesus of the Bible—into something like the Claremont New World Rainbow Church? Or does leaving the General Conference require the return of something like building and property?

We will decide what the Bible says; we will decide what is right; but let us be called by your name: Methodist. I hear echoes of Isaiah.

JoAnn Henkel

Alta Loma


Secret to reducing Claremont water bills: go local

Dear Editor:

I know, Peter Weinberger has another simpler, more intuitive answer: use less.  Very appealing, and for those who are wasting water that seems like good advice. But most of us don’t waste much water.

One day, as I drove by the apartments and shops packed side-by-side on streets near the Los Angeles River, it struck me especially hard why Claremonters use more than the southern California average: there were no trees. It was hard to find anything growing green. Claremont  is a city of trees. About 80 percent of the water we use is for irrigation. Of course, we use more water.

Is the secret really “use less” to reduce water bills? Not for most of us. As people in Barstow, Wrightwood, Seal Beach, San Dimas, anywhere in Golden State Water Company’s Region 3, use less water, the rates for everyone in Claremont go up. 

Golden State just adds that WRAM (Water Rate Adjustment Mechanism) charge to our bills so their profit is preserved. The Public Utilities Commission said they could. And what a deal it is.  Golden State saves by importing less water at 5 times the cost of local well water and they get WRAM as well. But that’s not the best reason to “go local.”

Golden State has more than doubled our water usage rate since 2008. That’s right, more than doubled for the typical Claremont user in 5 years. Claremont water usage rates are also roughly twice those for our neighbors in La Verne with their municipal system—and they have to rely on a lot more of that expensive imported water.

With a few facts and a little thought, it’s not hard to figure out what’s best. Do both: go local—use less. Let’s get control of Claremont’s water in our own hands, out from under a private monopoly and the PUC. We would set our own rates, and be masters of our water future. That’s going to be ever more important as temperatures rise, population grows and we have less water to use.

Freeman Allen



Climate change

Dear Editor:

Climate change is in a bigger hurry than we humans are. 400ppm of CO2 are in the atmosphere; 350 may have been a tipping point. We’re already beginning to see the loss of ice, the rise in sea level and the frequent extreme weather phenomena which scientists predicted. If we continue to add CO2 to the atmosphere, even at a slower rate of increase by switching from coal to natural gas, the consequences will be dire.

Although the costs of an accelerated pivot to non-fossil energy are enormous, the costs of not doing so will be far worse. As ice melts and oceans rise, coastal cities and other low-lying areas will be inundated.

Moderate precipitation will be replaced by deluges and droughts, disrupting food production and water supplies. Some places will become uninhabitable; hundreds of millions of people will be displaced. 

Tropical insects and diseases will reach formerly temperate areas, food will become scarcer and more expensive, and health care costs will increase. 

The melting permafrost will release the dreaded methane burp, accelerating the global temperature increase and its consequences. Our need to create a non-fossil energy economy will become more obvious and urgent, but we’ll be less able to do it.

We need to respond to climate change the way we responded to World War II: with total mobilization, because the destruction wrought by our WW II enemies was puny compared to the coming destruction from climate change.

Bob Gerecke



Anniversary of freedoms

Dear Editor:

This July marks 47 years since the landmark Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was signed into federal law, yet Americans are still distrustful of government. A 2013 Pew Research Center poll showed that only 26 percent of Americans surveyed say they can trust government in Washington “almost always or most of the time”—among the lowest ratings in the half-century since pollsters have been asking the question.

FOIA established our right to access government records and to know what our government is doing—both its successes and failures. Exercising our right to know gives us, the public, power. It allows us to contribute to our government and hold government accountable. From food and transportation safety to the use and disposal of chemicals, FOIA has enabled the public to ensure the health of our democracy and our own well-being.

FOIA (and related state and local laws) are only as good as we demand they be. For decades, members of the League of Women Voters have acted as government watchdogs at the federal, state and local levels—observing government meetings, conducting document audits and empowering citizens—but more work needs to be done.

The key to a healthy, open and trusted government is public participation. This FOIA anniversary, exercise your right to know by attending a government meeting, contacting an elected official or visiting a government website.

Ellen Taylor

VP for Advocacy

LWV of Claremont Area


Christopher Hubbart release

[Editor’s note: The following letter was sent to Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Gilbert Brown after his approval to release convicted rapist Christopher Hubbart. A copy was forwarded for publication. —KD]

Dear Judge Brown:

I am writing to urge you to prevent the release of convicted serial rapist Christopher Hubbart into the city of Claremont and all other areas of Los Angeles County.

Based on his criminal history, the planned release of Mr. Hubbart into our communities will create a serious threat to public safety.

Releasing a sexual predator to a college community such as Claremont poses a major public safety threat to its residents and the community as a whole. Hubbart has admitted to brutally raping 40 women, including 26 in Los Angeles County.

Mr. Hubbart has no family or support network in Claremont to possibly justify his placement in Claremont or the surrounding communities. His brief engagement with Claremont was more than 10 years ago, when he stayed in Claremont for just 2 months. Mr. Hubbart’s stepfather and mother resided near Claremont at the time, but have since died, thus he has no ties to the city.

Christopher Hubbart has proven himself to be a danger to society. Should you decide to proceed with his release, I strongly urge you to heed our community’s concern.

Mike Gatto

Chairman of the Assembly

Appropriations Committee

Assemblyman, 43rd District





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