Support for hiring Muslim is welcome
I was astonished to read the editorial in the paper (July 18) supporting Gov. Bill Haslam's hiring of Samar Ali (who is a Muslim) for the position of Economic and Community Development international director. I had to double-check on which side of the paper the column was positioned. Not only did the editorial support this hire, it condemned efforts by Republican lawmakers and ultra-conservative groups to "pander to racists, homophobes, and bigots to garner votes and win elections in the Volunteer State."
This is the first time since I moved here in 1998 that I have agreed with an editorial on the Free Press side of the paper (and I am a registered Republican). It's not April 1, so I have to believe that there are actually some changes behind the scenes or at least some opening of minds at the newspaper. Please keep it up.
DeGaetano upholds ideal of fairness
Several months ago, my wife was injured in an accident, and once it was clear that responsible party's insurance company was not going to provide any coverage, we decided to retain an attorney.
After interviewing several attorneys, we selected Joe DeGaetano because he was very knowledgeable and he did not pander or over-promise.
Joe worked quickly and proficiently to move our case forward. We are convinced that part of the reason the insurance company chose to settle when they did was his appropriate use of strategic legal pressure to leverage them into doing the right thing, rather than simply to deny the claim.
It is very telling that Joe agreed to represent us for significantly less than the going rate, and much less than other attorneys quoted to us. It was clear to us that Joe was not out to enrich himself. He was there first to look for the interests of his clients, while upholding the principles of fairness.
We encourage a vote for Joe DeGaetano as Sessions Court judge.
ROD HARRISON AND RUTH ANN HAMPTON
'Pray away gay' suffers setback
One embarrassing chapter in the history of psychology and psychiatry has been exposed by the very one who gave it legitimacy in a "flawed" study in 2001 in "The Archives of Sexual Behavior": Dr. Robert Spitzer, a respected psychiatrist.
He gave the "Pray away the gay" movement among some Christians legitimacy and justification, aka reparative therapy, even though the therapy was always on very shaky ground.
Spitzer wants to retract his 2001 study, asserting that change in one's sexual orientation was possible, because of flaws in the design of the study. This admission and apology severely undermines the validity of "ex-gay" programs -- and psychological and psychiatric organizations have repudiated reparative therapy as "faulty science and bias."
How would I describe reparative therapy? It's nothing more than quackery fueled by bias that was/is being practiced by some Christians for money.
What to do? Listen to Dolly Parton's song "Family" and realize that God doesn't make mistakes.
B.J. PASCHAL, Sevierville, Tenn.
Send Vital, the very best, to Nashville
In recent years, our community has been fortunate to have candidates for state Senate of the highest caliber: Public servants who have offered themselves because they are compelled to make a positive difference, not because they need a job or want notoriety. Only by sending the very best and brightest to Nashville can we expect Nashville to appropriately serve our interests here at home.
We have an opportunity to continue that tradition of excellence by electing Greg Vital as our next state senator.
Greg possesses an unmatched record of community involvement, volunteerism, compassion toward others, determined work ethic and natural business and ethical instincts and judgment.
Greg has spent his entire career improving communities and creating hundreds of jobs and economic opportunity for our citizens. The very essence of Greg's professional background, which is centered upon providing compassionate, quality and dignified care for the elderly, demonstrates Greg's unique ability to be a successful businessman while contributing and giving back to his neighbors.
By sending Greg Vital to Nashville as our next state senator, we are assured that we will have the finest and highest quality representation. Please vote early, and please vote for Greg Vital in the Republican primary.
Little is diligent toward his cases
I have worked with Mike Little for more than 15 years. Mr. Little is a very dependable, honest and thoughtful man who works on each case as if it were his only case. He spends many hours in court each week. He is very devoted to his family and his community of Soddy-Daisy and takes every opportunity to support them. I believe that he has the integrity, temperament and experience to be a great judge for the city of Soddy-Daisy.
MARTHA L. ELLIS, Harrison
Keep religious views within boundaries
Religion is first and foremost a private matter. While religion is essential to American society, especially in the Bible Belt, it shouldn't be used as a political tool or a moralizing bludgeon against minorities, like the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. In any overlap between the public and private aspects of religion, the latter should be emphasized.
You can obviously disagree with certain political decisions or morally object to those who practice what is mistakenly called a "lifestyle." But that conflict shouldn't escalate to theocratic squabbles or persecution, ostracism and scapegoating of those who differ from the norm as if they're the problem instead of promiscuity or irresponsibility from either side.
Prayer is something done initially in silence, not because of shame, but because one's connection to the divine is something personal and not to be flaunted to others. Like many topics, such as morality and politics, one's religious beliefs can influence your positions, but they shouldn't be the end-all standard. We all share a faculty of reason and should utilize it for the betterment of all, not merely those who are the largest demographic. Bottom line: keep your religious convictions to yourself if putting them into practice involves overstepping the liberties of others.
JARED COWAN, Sewanee, Tenn.
Hoss will be fair, equitable
I encourage the Soddy-Daisy voters to consider Bryan Hoss for judge in the August election.
As a former chief of the Chattanooga Police Department, I am aware of several occasions where Bryan represented organizations or personnel related to the police department. I was always impressed with his legal knowledge and the level of case preparedness he brought to every litigation. He simply would not be outworked.
He always had the unique ability to balance the vigorous representation of his client while still maintaining ethical and professional relationships with his legal adversaries. His sense of fairness and professional decorum are virtues that will make him an excellent judge.
The fair and equitable application of the law is essential to a community, and I am confident that Bryan would provide that legal environment for Soddy-Daisy.
I encourage the citizens of Soddy-Daisy to vote for Bryan Hoss for judge.
I support Weston Wamp for Congress in District 3. I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity of being involved in the electoral process at the federal, state and local level. I have been fortunate to attend the debates held thus far.
Weston Wamp has really impressed me at each and every debate and by his hard work and efforts to reach out to each and every voter. He is different and is willing to work across party lines and not play the blame game. The state of country needs new blood in leadership and as voters, we need to stop sending the same people to Washington because we will keep getting the same results.
I am impressed that Weston knows the problems facing our country and has solutions.
He may not have all the answers but he is willing to work across party lines and help get the answers that will get this country back on track.
In conclusion, as we come close to the beginning of early voting, I urge all voters to get involved by educating yourself about each candidate and go out and vote. Vote early, vote smart, vote Weston Wamp.
During Ramadan, Muslims fast for one month from dawn to dusk. But that's old news. To most people, this is just another absurd practice of the Muslims, whose faith has become synonymous with terrorism. Most people cannot fathom why someone would want to put themselves through that sort of sacrifice. What's wrong with lunch, right? I will attempt to clarify.
Let me let you in on a greater truth: It's not all about the physical sacrifice. But that hunger and thirst that I will feel on those days will not be without purpose. Ramadan is about gaining nearness to God, not just by fasting, but by praying, alms giving and staying away from the daily evils of the world.
As Muslims plan their breakfast foods for the oncoming month, I would like to submit a challenge to all of you, not just Muslims. What can you do to make yourself a better person, and in turn make your community a better place? Imagine a world in which all Muslims, all citizens, began each day - not just the days of Ramadan - with this question in mind. Maybe, just maybe, the world would be a little bit better of a place.
We are writing this endorsement to encourage people in voting for Gary Starnes for Sessions Court judge.
We have known Gary and his family for a number of years and know the dedication he has for this community and his commitment to the welfare of the people of Chattanooga.
Gary feels strongly about family and family values and the law and the people of Chattanooga his home.
Gary wants Chattanooga to continue to be one of the greatest places to live but also to be one of the safest place to live and work and raise our families.
We have no doubt Gary will give his all to be the best Sessions Court judge he can when he is elected. Honesty, integrity and great knowledge of the law are essential to perform this job well.
We believe Gary Starnes possess these necessary attributes and will serve the Chattanooga judicial system with dignity and honor. We encourage you to vote for Gary Starnes, General Sessions judge.
BILL AND SHERRY OELLERICH, Signal Mountain