Letters, Dec. 29

Dec. 28, 2012 @ 05:36 PM

Consider volunteering in schools

As we enter 2013, I urge citizens of Durham County to consider a New Year’s resolution to volunteer in our schools. Durham Public Schools is focusing on early literacy with the goal of having all students reading on grade level or higher. Superintendent Eric Becoats has indicated that many more volunteers are needed to help with reading.

Downtown Durham Rotary has stepped up with a “Reading Rangers” effort that has engaged Rotarians as tutors at both Y.E. Smith Elementary School and Neal Middle School -- target schools for the East Durham Children’s Initiative. I have been reading with students in a third-grade class at Y.E. Smith since October. It is a blessing to help a young person understand new words and gain confidence reading.

Please consider helping the early literacy effort this year. For more information, go to the Durham Public School website at http://www.dpsnc.net/community/get-involved or call 919-560-2156.

Ellen Reckhow
Durham County Commissioner

Agreement possible on same-sex marriage

We the undersigned, though residing at opposite ends of the political spectrum, find complete agreement on the issue of same-sex marriage. Some of these thoughts were admirably addressed recently by columnist Jackie Cushman:

"The current conundrum regarding the legalization of same-sex marriage is what happens when church and state are mixed -- the topics become confusing and confused. It is time for us to pull apart the institution of marriage from the definition of legal union. Marriage should be determined by the church, whatever church you belong to. Some religions agree to same-sex marriage, others do not.

"On the other hand, the state should not meddle with the definition of marriage, but focus instead on determining the legality and requirements of civil unions. Marriage -- and the relationship between partners and their God -- should be defined by the church. Civil unions and their legalities should be defined by the state (or federal government).

"The government should issue civil union licenses that could be referenced for legal/insurance matters. Churches should continue to perform marriages as they see fit. The churches' determinations would not affect couples' legal standing in terms of taxes, benefits, etc."

The courts have been in disagreement over the interpretation of "marriage" and its legal and religious ramifications. It is time to end the obfuscation and engage the proper solution, which we believe is to create a real division between church and state. We ask your cooperation in structuring our state and federal laws to make this division a reality.

Philip H. Pearce, MD
Donald S. Burdick, PhD
Durham

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