Sammamish Forum May 14
May 14, 2014
We can’t allow discrimination
Thank you Marilyn and Claudia for your letters in recent issues of the Review about discrimination based upon religious beliefs.
Since Marilyn elaborated on my earlier mention of the florist sued by Washington State on behalf of a gay couple, let me provide additional details to get us on common ground.
In 2013, the Attorney General sued Arlene’s Florist of Richland because the owner, Barronelle Stutzman, refused to supply flowers for the wedding of two gay men in spite of them being long-time customers.
She justified her discrimination using her religious beliefs saying “I could not [provide the flowers] because of my relationship with Jesus.”
Marilyn appears correct in that the owner was not anti-gay. She previously sold flowers to these two gay men with no apparent moral conflict and has two gay uncles whom she loves dearly.
The issue here, however, is not whether she is pro or anti-gay. It is that she denied a service to a gay couple that she routinely provided to heterosexual couples. In Washington State, this is against the law. The Attorney General was justified in filing suit.
A person is entitled to his or her religious beliefs and opinions and may feel justified in breaking the law to stand up for those convictions. But this same person should expect legal consequences for doing so. As Claudia points out in her letter, religious-based exceptions to anti-discrimination law would render it toothless as anyone could then claim a religious belief as their justification for a wide variety of discriminatory actions.
I understand how painful it may be for someone with honest convictions to have to choose between their sincerely held beliefs and the law, but in order to ensure America’s promise for everyone our laws cannot enshrine discrimination.
Businesses operate under civil law and I would hope that every business owner understands that this social and legal contract exists because it binds us together in spite of our differences. Exemptions that further divide us, such as the one we are discussing have no place in a fair and just society.
Michael J. O’Connell
war on dogs
The action by the Sammamish City Council May 6 (on a 6-1 vote) to further restrict dogs in parks is another example of attacking a “problem” that isn’t and another step in its war on dogs.
There is only one park in the city, Beaver Lake Park, that has an off-leash area, and this is a small, prison-like area that can be walked around in five minutes. This provides little exercise for dogs or owners.
Despite there being acres and acres of meadow at Evans Creek Preserve that are unused, the entire park has been declared an on-leash park. Despite the north meadow of Big Rock Park being perfect, and perfectly convenient, for dog play and chucking the ball, this, too, has been declared on-leash.
The city spent a half million dollars (!!!!) for two boat docks at Sammamish Landing. What’s a few thousand dollars to fence off the wetland at Big Rock Park and for signage here and at Evans Creek that says “Beyond this point dogs must be on leash?” (I would argue that Evans Creek trails are fine for off-leash dogs, but that’s a subject for another day.)
There are many more pressing issues than these nanny-state issues taken up by the city staff and council. Southeast 24th Street, from 200th Avenue to the East Lake Sammamish Parkway is an arterial and it’s dangerous, with blind curves, without shoulders, walking lanes and bike lanes. It’s been this way since before we became a city. No action.
The city is rushing headlong into annexing Klahanie at a cost of millions of dollars and potential neglect of pressing needs in our city. Streets are full of potholes. The county is “improving” the lake trail, causing more issues with residents in the process.
Where are the priorities?
There are other options for people to earn more
There is local and national talk to adjust the minimum wage that businesses must pay. This appears just a way for politicians to garner votes — there are many more voting people wanting more, without working to earn more. This will increase the cost of doing business and cause the loss of jobs and failed businesses.
The U.S. Constitution does not control what each company must pay employees. When government controls the wages, then this country will become like Cuba. It seems that this is a socialistic trend, which is detrimental to the American free enterprise system.
If a person wants to earn more, then (1) get an education (2) work 120 percent and earn advancement in your current job (3) change jobs.