Maine Senate’s divisive message

The Maine Senate recently sent a divisive message to residents of the state. On April 7, the Maine Senate adopted Senate Resolution 1, a declaration that the “Members of the Senate reaffirm ‘In God We Trust’ as the official motto of the United States and support and encourage awareness of and the public display of the national motto in homes and houses of worship and in all public buildings, public schools and other government institutions.”

This is a symbolic move by the Senate because it is in the form of a unilateral resolution. Still, it sends a message to minority religious and nonreligious residents that their state Senate does not value them as highly as their monotheistic neighbors.

Revealingly, the Senate has made a very rare move in adopting this resolution unilaterally. A staff member for the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Information Office remarked in response to Freedom From Religion Foundation’s inquiry that, “99 percent of the time, resolutions are joint,” meaning that both the Senate and House of Representatives almost always approve them together. Instead, the Senate chose to adopt this resolution without sending it to the House. Based on the Senate’s actions, one could easily conclude that our national motto has become so contentious that not even the two houses in a bicameral state legislature can agree on its appropriateness.

Maine’s upper chamber needs to devote more time to improving the welfare of Maine residents and less time sending acrimonious, religion-laden communiques to them.

Sam Grover

Staff attorney

Freedom From Religion Foundation

Madison, Wisconsin

Collins should support genocide prevention

This letter celebrates the prior support Sen. Susan Collins has demonstrated for the prevention of genocide and atrocities around the world. In 2011, for example, she expressly supported the need for our nation to develop the necessary tools to prevent genocide.

Now would be the time for us to encourage Collins to continue this support by co-sponsoring the Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2016 under consideration in the Senate. This would authorize the full and permanent funding for the Atrocities Prevention Board, a valuable high-level preventive tool that provides the lookout for potential outbreaks of genocide and atrocities in other countries. Prevention is the least expensive, least harmful and most effective management at our disposal.

Please call or write to Collins’ office.

Douglas McCown

Portland

Marble for state Senate

There has been much partisan calamity as of late around proposed mental health care changes by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. While a compromise appears to have been reached, the debate, particularly around Section 17 changes, speaks to why we must elect leaders who will work with pragmatism and compassion, taking into account fiscal realities, along with services essential to the well-being of vulnerable Mainers.

That is why I am supporting Dennis Marble for State Senate District 10.

I first came to know Marble in Augusta while working for the Maine State Housing Authority, where one of my responsibilities was to administer state funding for the homeless. As one of 25 homeless shelter executive directors across Maine, Marble stood out for his impeccable management of the Bangor shelter’s operations and finances and his compassionate advocacy for disadvantaged Mainers. In fact, the cost per bed rate at the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter was 35 percent lower than the state average because of Marble’s leadership.

Marble has consistently impressed me with his professional and respectful approach to funding decisions. But he also brought the issues of homelessness, mental health and addiction out of the shadows, enlightening the public on the scope of such problems in our area. Because of Marble’s ability to build consensus and his commitment to helping all people, real progress has been made. His fair minded approach is what we need in Augusta, which is why he has my vote for state Senate.

Peter Wintle

Exeter