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Letters to the Editor 

Stand Up for Us

I am writing this letter in response to David Winkler-Schmit's article "The Gay Parent Trap" (News & Views, May 12). First, I would like to say thank you to Tracy, Minet, Steve and Todd for sharing the story of their families, and also to Winkler-Schmit for his timely and balanced article.

  Specifically, however, I am writing in response to the comment from Forum for Equality Chairman Kenny Tucker. I would like to say, loud and clear, that Tucker's views on the present adoption laws in the state of Louisiana do not represent those of the gay community at large. In fact, it is individuals and organizations like Tucker and Forum for Equality that disempower the LGBTQ community to fight for the equal rights we deserve. How can we as a community find a foothold in our collective climb toward social justice when our leaders are doing nothing more than appeasing the status quo, too afraid to rock the boat lest we bring this state's gross negligence of the needs of its LGBTQ citizens to light?

  LGBTQ people are tired of spineless representatives like Tucker, who has adopted a good-enough-for-now attitude when it comes to legislation that protects our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. We are tired of people telling us that if we want equal rights, we should move to California or Massachusetts.

  I want Tucker to really question who he is representing, because the LGBTQ community in New Orleans would like to know the answer. We are not willing to wait around while Tucker asks his constituents which answer is least likely to anger the bigoted politicians he is trying to appease.

Shanna Barney

Unity LGBTQIQ Allies Coordinator, University of New Orleans



No Dumbing Down

Universities bring bright, motivated young people into Louisiana and retain state residents who would seek education and opportunities away from here. Students and schools spend money in the state, and universities hire nonacademic residents who then pay state taxes. There also are educated alumni who comprise the local workforce. Businesses start and come here for access to this educated population.

  With all the benefits they provide, why does the state of Louisiana hate higher education? In the economic downturn, higher education is carrying an unjustified burden of state budget cuts. The final proof that the state hates higher education is that the state House Committee on Criminal Justice is supporting House Bill 27, which would allow people with permits to carry guns on university campuses. Every Louisiana college president and the American Association of University Professors opposes the legislation.

  What young researcher seeking to establish a career at a university would want to build it in Louisiana? There are fewer graduate students with whom to work and teach, programs get cut without input, and now people are going to be allowed to carry guns on the one piece of real estate that is the safest in the state. Why does the state want to kill this golden goose? What will it mean to the state if there is no system to cultivate intellectual excellence and keep talented young people here?

  This bias against intellectual endeavors will backfire. The next generation will look back at these decisions and see them as Louisiana's final decline into an economic and intellectual backwater.

Elisabeth Gleckler

Public health researcher



Fresh Air

Congratulations to Yvonne Landry, owner of La Nuit Comedy Theater and the adjoining Box Office Lounge, for standing up for the health of her staff, the public and the great comedians and performers in our city by choosing to operate both the theater and bar as smoke-free establishments.

  Back when the Surgeon General's office released its landmark report in 2006, it stated there is no safe amount of secondhand smoke, and we see that in the approximately 1,000 Louisianans who die each year from exposure to it. No one should have to put their health at risk to earn a paycheck or enjoy a night of entertainment and laughs at their favorite club.

  Traditionally, the local stand-up and comedy club scene has been pretty scarce in New Orleans, so it's great to finally have a venue dedicated solely to promoting and cultivating our local comedy talent. As part of the redevelopment of the old Freret Street business corridor, La Nuit's smoke-free declaration represents a new, progressive way of doing business.

John Butts



Remember Alzheimer's

According to the Alzheimer's Association's "2009 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures," more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's today, and 16 million could have it by 2050. As many as 83,000 Louisiana residents 65 and older will have the disease next year, and about 500,000 people nationwide will be diagnosed with young-onset Alzheimer's disease.

  Congress has the power to prevent, treat and cure Alzheimer's. It must increase Alzheimer's research funding by an additional $250 million in the fiscal 2010 budget. The only way to defeat Alzheimer's is scientific research. Government funding for that research has been insufficient considering the staggering impact the disease will have on Medicare and Medicaid. Inadequate funding also threatens to squander the scientific progress researchers have made to date.

  Our country cannot afford the Alzheimer's epidemic. The human costs are devastating and the costs to our health care system are unsustainable. Increasing research funding will speed the discovery of treatments we lack today, providing a gift of incalculable value to all Americans.

Lisa C. Carbo

Metairie

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