Letters to the Editor 

Sounding off on audio

From the first glimpse of the lovely Jennifer Granstrom on the cover straddling across a tube amplifier biting down on those high-end cables, I knew that this cover story was going to be right up my alley ("Ear entry," Metro Times, April 4). Ever since I was a young teen and my uncle played The Beatles' "A Day in the Life" through his McIntosh and B&W system, I knew that I could never hear the same clarity and fullness out of my Pioneer stereo. I can relate to those guys who agree that the stuff the big box stores sell can be somewhat close, but no cigar. I don't have the cheese to drop what Jack White dropped, but I can rest assured that I'm hearing my music more clearly, and with more detail, than the average person. —Dave Farias, Royal Oak


Bullying gays is normal

I love Jack Lessenberry's column but why are you supporting this nonsense about bullying ("Bully for nobody," Metro Times, March 28)? I myself was bullied and I got over it. It's part of growing up — period. It's inescapable.

Obviously violence can't be tolerated, or extreme bullying, but words? C'mon: How bad can it be to be verbally made fun of? Sure, it hurts emotionally, but, guess what: Everyday life hurts also. Just maybe kids need to learn to not care about or listen to what others say.

If we arrest everyone who bullied, how would our children learn to deal with life's problems? This teaches emotional dependency and will lead to a rude awakening when they leave the school environment. It also turns kids into whiners and complainers.

We all will be ridiculed in life. Especially if you choose a lifestyle that most people find odd or different (being gay for instance, dressing in all black, liking yodeling, etc.).

As far as this "gay" teasing thing: It's a total waste of resources. Kids will endlessly make fun of kids that "come out" in school. Kids will also endlessly make fun of you if you come to school wearing a polka-dot clown suit. —Matt Hammond, Royal Oak


On putting it out there

In response to the letter from Michael Conte of Roseville ("Bullying teaches kids," Letters to the Editor, Metro Times, April 4): Are you serious?

I know plenty of gays and lesbians myself, none of whom throw their sexuality out in the open. And what's wrong with their parades? They're celebrating who they are. You never see straight cultural centers because straight is the culture. So many people bash homosexuals, and they rally together to show support. If you feel uncomfortable during parade day in Ferndale, imagine their position: Going out to eat on a Friday night, getting stared down if they dare hold hands with their partner. I feel like my friends are living behind some curtain to protect people like you from feeling uneasy. So, Mr. Conte, let them have their one parade to celebrate their sexuality in the open. Hell, have a beer and join them: You might learn that they aren't as scary as you think. —Amanda LeFeve, Allen Park


Benefit of the doubt

Your Feb. 7th News Hit item is titled "Damn lies," an appropriate heading since the content includes exactly that.

Your characterization of AFA-Michigan’s 2004 position is false, and given that you are the original publisher of my comments in their full context, it’s difficult to believe you didn’t knowingly falsify the characterization. Either that, or like some reporters in 2004, you either intellectually do not grasp — or because of prejudicial philosophical bias, simply haven’t taken the time to understand — the legal distinction between (1) benefits and (2) the basis on which benefits are offered. Two different issues.

The issue of benefits was not before the Court of Appeals. Government recognition was and is the issue before the courts.

The clearest refutation of your false allegation that I said "domestic partnership benefits would not be affected" came from Coalition for a Fair Michigan, the campaign committee which opposed Proposal 2, and which issued a news release stating:

"The Coalition for a Fair Michigan (CFM) said today that they were happy to find common ground with the Michigan affiliate of the American Family Association (AFA), one of the lead proponents of the proposed constitutional amendment that would ban legal recognition of any relationships other than opposite-sex marriage. Last night, at a forum on the amendment …both sides agreed that the amendment would go much further than defining marriage by also eliminating any government-sanctioned domestic partnership benefits. ‘I’m glad we could find common ground with the AFA, and I want to thank Gary Glenn for his willingness to be upfront on this point,’ said Wendy Howell, Campaign Manager for CFM." www.fairmichiganmajority.org/CFM/press_releases/6_24.htm

The full text of your own reporter’s story also does not support your false characterization. Here’s the full passage from your October 20, 2004 report:

"Conservative Oakland County Commissioner Tom McMillin, who sponsored a successful resolution supporting the proposed (marriage) amendment, is satisfied with the language, and claims Prop 2 opponents overstate the amendment’s potential effect on employers’ ability to provide benefits. ‘A business can say, "Anybody who has benefits as of 2004 can still have them,’" McMillin says. ‘The basis just cannot be that it’s marriage or something similar to marriage.’

This position is echoed by Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan, who says, ‘Under that policy, every single person currently receiving any kind of benefit would continue to do so. But it would not be on the basis of a government employer singling out homosexual relationships for the special treatment of being recognized as equal or similar to marriage.’"

My words, "Under that policy," referred to the policy described by McMillin in the preceding paragraph. Mr. Jackman told me in the interview what McMillin had said, and I responded in agreement.

Please note, if you’re capable of a fair and objective reading, that McMillin said, "A business can say..."

At the time, Prop 2 opponents were falsely claiming that the amendment would restrict what a private sector business could offer employees in terms of benefits.

But even if McMillin had been referring to public sector employers, which was the issue before the Court of Appeals, his point is still valid, as I made clear in my comments referencing a "government employer." What McMillin said accurately applies to both private and public sector employers.

A public employer can constitutionally still offer benefits to all its employees, including those involved in a homosexual relationship, so long as...

‘The basis just cannot be that it’s marriage or something similar to marriage.’ (McMillin in Metro Times)

"It would not be on the basis of a government employer singling out homosexual relationships for the special treatment of being recognized as equal or similar to marriage.’" (Glenn in Metro Times)

As the Appeals Court noted in its decision, "The amendment as written does not preclude the extension of employment benefits to unmarried partners on a basis unrelated to recognition of their agreed-upon relationship."

The University of Michigan, which filed an amicus with the court supporting Draganchuk’s ruling, acknowledged the same, as reported by The Michigan Daily on Feb. 14, 2005:

"(University of Michigan) spokeswoman Julie Peterson said (the Graduate Employees Organization) has no reason to fear it will lose its (same-sex) benefits, even if a court ruled a new arrangement unconstitutional because of its violation of Proposal 2 – an amendment to the state constitution that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The University will change the mechanics of its benefits system to continue to offer benefits to gay couples, Peterson said."

If you have a beef with someone, ask U-M: instead of fighting in court to preserve an unconstitutional benefits plan that singles out homosexual and other "domestic partners" for special benefits not available to other nonmarital relationships (such as university employees’ grandmothers), why don’t they just "change the mechanics" as they said to constitutionally offer benefits to both.

You offered your readers "Damn lies." We suggest you offer them the truth instead, by publishing in full AFA-Michigan’s amicus brief filed under oath last year with the Court of Appeals: www.afamichigan.org/FINAL.AMICUS.BRIEF.pdf

As you’ll see, we even cited the Metro Times report in our brief as unequivocal evidence that we had said before the election that the amendment would prohibit benefits offered on the basis of government recognition of homosexual relationships. —Gary Glenn, president, American Family Assn. of Michigan, Midland

Send letters (250 words or less, please) to letters@metrotimes.com. Please include your telephone number for verification. We reserve the right to edit for length, clarity and libel.

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