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June 3, 2004

Your Letters

http://www.jewishjournal.com/letters_to_the_editor/article/your_letters_20040604

Gay Marriage

Dennis Prager is fond of presenting his audiences with either/or riddles to solve ("Gay Marriage," May 14). Here is one for him: Which is more harmful to society, homosexual marriage or heterosexual adultery?

In my 25 years as a practicing clinical psychologist, focusing on marital and sex therapy, the answer is clear. The insidious effects of adultery on both family and society are manifold. Long-term, faithful relationships, both gay and straight, have a profound uplifting, moral and spiritually beneficial effect on society.

People cannot choose their sexual orientation. (Prager's assertion to the contrary, in his mythical 7-year-old asking, "Well maybe I'll marry Jenny, or maybe I'll marry Johnny," is both scientifically and empirically inaccurate.) But they can choose the values through which that orientation will be expressed.

Monogamy, sanctified by the marriage of one human being to another, is the best hope for society. As Prager himself has often correctly stated, in human relationships, values are more important than biology. So, too, here. When it comes to marriage, human values, not biology in the form of gender and/or sexual orientation, are paramount. It is time for Prager to bring his views in line with his views.

Rabbi Ronald Levine, Van Nuys

Workers' Comp

Jill Stewart's article, "Out of Context" (May 14), was appropriately titled, since she speaks of the need for workers' compensation reform from a point of view that is ill-informed and out of touch with the realities of the system. The only parties high-fiving each other in the end zone over this so-called reform bill are the insurance carriers, which have seen record profits in the last year. The stock of Zenith Insurance Co., which writes compensation coverage only in California, has soared from $23 a share a year ago to $46 recently after the enactment of Senate Bill 899.

Workers' compensation is not bad public policy, as Stewart would have readers believe. The policies assuring injured workers "full compensation" in an "unencumbered" system are rights guaranteed by Article XIV of the California Constitution. The recent so-called "reform" is nothing but an insurance company wish list fully satisfied.

That the governor would sign such a measure without extracting a single concession from the carriers and without a single guarantee that the massive savings will be passed on to California businesses in lower premiums gives new meaning to the word shonda.

Robert B. Zeidner, Los Angeles

Jill Stewart responds:

Studies show no insurers profit from workers' comp here, where only 20 percent of the market is covered by private carriers anymore and a quasi-governmental state fund is forced to insure most employers.

Two-dozen insurers fled, because even the insane rates they charged didn't cover dizzying medical and legal costs created by trial lawyers and colluding doctors. Zenith held on by writing other types of policies than workers' comp.

If SB 899 proves it can help insurers make a fair profit, they will return, clamoring for business, as they do elsewhere. Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi flew to New York a few weeks ago and begged the insurers to return. None have.

Kerry's Israel Record

The May 21 issue of The Jewish Journal carried an opinion piece by Rick Richman titled, "Kerry's Flip-Flops on Israel Stir Concern." Rick is a good friend of mine. He is a thoughtful, bright, articulate, well-informed, gentle man (and gentleman). In his efforts to advocate the re-election of George W. Bush, however, Rick's column reflected some skewed reasoning.

Here are the facts. Throughout his 19 years in the Senate, John Kerry's pro-Israel voting record has been second to none. Kerry has consistently supported the foreign aid critical to Israel and fought the attempt by Bush the elder in the early 1990s to slash the loan guarantees program that would have restricted aid to Israel.

Kerry endorses Israel's need to maintain military superiority and supports Israel's action to defend the safety and security of its citizens, including its recent actions taken against leaders of Hamas and other terrorist groups. Kerry has expressed unequivocal support for Ariel Sharon's plan to withdraw from Gaza. Beyond defense and security, Kerry has expressed his intent to work to bolster the economy of Israel, so key to Israel's future strength.

The major red flag raised against Kerry is the flip-flop charge. In fact, that charge is a red herring that his opponents have dredged up for lack of substantive arguments. In fact, I admire political leaders who have the wisdom and humility to admit that they may have at times been wrong. If only we had more leaders who were willing to admit that they may have made mistakes.

Abner D. Goldstine, Beverly Hills

Clarification

A sentence in "Holocaust Museum to Reopen Doors" (May 28) asking whether communal funds should be spent in support of the museum was posed as a rhetorical question by the writer. It should not have been attributed to Dr. Samuel Goetz.

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