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Opposition to same-sex marriage isn’t a hate crime

Religious Freedom Restoration Acts at the federal and state levels have been necessary to protect those who choose to follow their conscience, based usually on long-standing religious beliefs, from being tried in court, fined and/or sent to jail.

Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor were being fined heavily for refusing to fund contraceptives in their health care plans as required by the Affordable Health Care Act.

They were about to be destroyed by the tyranny of government. Fortunately, the Supreme Court upheld their religious convictions within the past year.

Now the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges will soon determine whether all states must recognize same-sex marriages.

The centuries-old religious conviction and practice of the major world religions – Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists – that marriage is between a man and a woman is being challenged. Will the free exercise of religion we have cherished in the First Amendment for 200 years be trumped by the civil rights of same-sex couples?

The plaintiff seems intent on restricting religious freedom by asking the court to declare that any opposition to same-sex “marriage” is based on “animus” and becomes a “hate crime.”

Since when does a person with a different opinion automatically hate another person?

Carter Blaisdell

Black Mountain

Three people who deserve thanks

I am writing to express my gratitude for three local people who add so much to our lives here in the beautiful Swannanoa Valley - Ruth Higgins (and her staff at HealthRidge Pharmacy), Casey Conner (director of Black Mountain Recreation and Parks) and Beth DuBrock (coach of the Black Mountain Stingrays).

Ruth and her staff truly care for the people in the Valley. When my great-uncle came here as a refugee from Hurricane Katrina, she and her staff worked diligently to ensure that he had the medication that he needed.

You are always greeted with a smile (and lollipops for kids!) and are genuinely concerned about getting you the medications you need.

Casey has made tremendous growth in the Recreation and Parks Department.

Under his leadership, we have new and innovative programs happening all the time; and he is just an all-around nice guy with a wonderful family who are such a blessing to our community.

Beth heads up the swim team, and her boundless energy and enthusiasm transfer down to all the kids who participate. The swim team is one of the best summer activities in the Valley.

Parents, check it out and get your kids involved.

It's a phenomenal experience.

If you see any of these people, be sure to pass on your thanks to them.

Having people like them in our community is what makes living in the Valley so special.

Amy Niemas-Holmes

Swannanoa

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