Thank you, President Bush. — Gary Elkinton, Medford

Layoffs in the valley, Harry and David, Circuit City, Ashland Hospital, a mill shutting down, other small businesses with layoffs. And Mother's Cookies closing. Hundreds of jobs lost.

Now the great happening, a $1.6 million bash, in Washington, D.C. I am so thrilled to have change. — D.J. Lehn, Medford

Gerald Cavanaugh states that "Civil unions are a constitutional right for all." Marriage is not a right but a set of legal obligations.

Marriage has existed for centuries and, until recent times, it has always meant a union between a man and a woman. The real issue is whether marriage should be redefined — and, if for gays, why not for polygamists? Why not for pedophiles? — C.J. Wiesenfarth, Eagle Point

Re:garding George Will's Sunday column claiming that because Obama won the election, we no longer need the Voting Rights Act: Once again he demonstrates that he is not paying attention, or is deliberately wearing blinders. A large part of Obama's win was due to hundreds of lawsuits won in state and federal courts overturning Republican voter suppression, which has been blatantly obvious since the debacle of 2000.

Remember the 45,000 black folks in Florida unlawfully denied their right to vote? The thousands of black folks in Ohio waiting for 12 hours in the rain to vote, while the white suburbs had more voting machines than they knew what to do with? The thousands of our (black) troops in Iraq who never got their absentee ballots because their addresses had changed?

Google Republican vote suppression. It's all well documented, but not reported in U.S. newspapers for some reason. — Peter Nemzek, Ashland

George W. Bush has never had a personal success, an endeavor about which he could say, "I did this on my own using only my abilities." His life is one of legacy and privilege, of being propped up by others, of having his failures rectified by others.

For Barack Obama to be a successful president he will have to be yet another in the long line of those who have cleaned up a mess left by George W. Bush.

That the American voting public and the conservative movement saw fit to support the awesome incompetence of George W. Bush is the subject of another discussion. Thanks to George W. Bush's incompetence, America voted overwhelmingly to elect Barack Obama and give the Democrats control of Congress. — Harry Freiberg, Brookings

I would agree with the facts you have outlined in Friday's opinion piece regarding the discriminatory prohibition of gay marriage by religious organizations, however your conclusions are a bit confusing.

Yes, marriage is a civil contract. Therefore, it is a matter in which the state is involved, not any religious organization. If a religious organization wishes to designate certain unions as conforming to their mythology, that's fine. Perhaps they would like to use the name "religious marriages"?

That's just a suggestion, of course. The actual term in use should be left up to each religious group.

However, a religiously based marriage should remain separate from the civil institution that our society has found to be beneficial and codified into our secular body of law. There is no reason for the rest of us to redefine marriage as civil union in order to appease believers of ancient mythology. It would seem more rational to expect them to operate outside of secular law than to redefine that law to suit their, often discriminatory, purposes. — LorrieAnne Miller, Medford

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