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Moving the needle

EDITOR: NBA athlete Jason Collins recently announced that he is gay. The reactions and support from others was very positive. Kobe Bryant wholeheartedly supported Collins' decision to come out, along with many others.

For those who live in a fog of bias, Collins' announcement somehow reflects badly on him. For open-minded people and for those with opening minds, this adds evidence to awakening America that being gay is a personal characteristic that, for Collins, has no bearing on what kind of person he is, who he was in the past, nor his skill, love and passion for basketball.

Collins didn't chip away at the stereotype; he blew a significant hole in it. As such, other biased stereotypes of gays must be questioned. Should not gays have a fair shot at happiness in all fashions that straight people do, including marriage?

The support Collins is receiving shows the progress toward accepting gay athletes and moves us closer to the acceptance of legal gay marriage. Simply put, gay people are like any other people and deserve equality.

MICHELLE SIMONDS

Santa Rosa

Power suppliers

EDITOR: Am I the only one who wonders how electricity will get to Sonoma County from suppliers located in Texas, New Jersey, Canada, New York or Illinois ("Top bidders for power plan revealed," Saturday)? If the electricity from any of those suppliers would just go onto the grid, what's to prevent a Sonoma County resident from using electricity generated — horror of horrors — by PG&E?

WIN ARCHIBALD

Petaluma

Losing oaks

EDITOR: Thank you for the April 29 article that discussed a small park associated with a major new development ("Coddingtown-area park heads to SR council"). The story unfortunately left out the fact that this out-of-state-developer has already cut down 24 heritage oak trees and will damage many others. The park, therefore, really represents an exchange of highly valuable trees for a patch of grass, more cars and buildings and a huge leakage of locally generated revenue.

And now this absentee landlord seeks to destroy the 250-year old oak it told the city of Santa Rosa it would leave standing. The historic oak is inconvenient. The city should reject the proposed removal of additional trees and plan around this specimen tree. The many values trees embody far outweigh issues of expediency.

If the city needs parks and housing, it should use its planning powers to locate projects like the so-called-Range Ranch project in blighted areas (see the large demolished motel just a few hundred yards from this project) and protect natural areas in city parks.

We are counting on public officials to embrace the lessons of the past and bring forth new plans to protect the future.

KIMBERLY BURR

Forestville

Preventing violence

EDITOR: Violence is in the news again. The important question is, what leads individuals to determine that violence against others is the way to express their frustration, anger and fear in order to meet their needs?

The military, police, and media tend to focus on who and how. They use violence themselves — and scarce finances — here and abroad in a way that conditions the public to support further limitations on our liberties, based on fear. This leads to a more violent world.

Attempting to identify individuals as criminal, extremist or mentally ill is not a truly preventative strategy. It's too late. We must resist judging and stereotyping others, such as Muslims. We can have the most effect at home, honoring each person, addressing isolation and anger with caring and community. And we must stop our government's use of violence around the world, which makes us less secure at home.

The Peace and Justice Center of Sonoma County suggests focusing on what we can do in our daily lives to change the conditions that lead to violence, thus increasing awareness of our nation's actions in the world so that we can make peace a reality.

MARTIN EDWARDS

and TERRA FREEDMAN

Board members, Peace and Justice Center