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Bulletin letters to the editor: Same-sex marriage; school foundation fundraiser

Organizers thankful for 'Taste' support and sponsors

I'd like to thank the sponsors of the April 22 Taste of South Washington County Schools Extravaganza, Dr. Joel Bexell and Dr. Donna Bexell, and Anchor Bank of Woodbury and St. Paul Park. Their sponsorship allowed us to invite area restaurants and food vendors who brought wonderful samples and treats for us -- Sunsets, Machine Shed, Yo-Joe's, David's Chophouse, Mississippi Dunes, Jimmy John's-Woodbury, Carbone's on Lake Road in Woodbury, Great Harvest Bread, Sole Mio, Starbucks at Kowalski's, District 833 Nutrition Services and Premium Waters.

Affordable Elegance in Hastings set the mood for us with the elegant tablecloths, along with Norris Square's balloon bouquet and South Suburban Rental's tables and delivery service; thank you for the in-kind donation. Thanks to all those who attended to listen to the fantastic Park, Woodbury and East Ridge high school jazz bands that played for us.

Thanks to those who bid and won silent auction items donated by these generous businesses and people: Zywiec's Landscape & Garden Center, 3M Cottage Grove, Jumpity Jump, Bailey Nursery, Gertens, Nuevas Fronteras PTSO, Woodbury Middle School, Lake Middle School, Ginger and Mark Bollinger, Imation, Rainbow of Cottage Grove, Kowalski's, Cub of Cottage Grove, Machine Shed, Great Clips Cottage Grove by Target, Max and Natalie Seim, Target Cottage Grove, Smashburger, Champps, Kelley Gallery, Famous Dave's, Potbelly, Tea Steepery, Holiday at 80th and Hadley, American Motor Sports Bar and Grill, Vicki Strong, Northern Tier, Borgstrom's Hallmark-Cottage Grove, Moriarty Family, Melinda Weber and Hamline University.

Thanks to our local Bulletins for coverage, to Woodbury High School for hosting this event and South Washington County Schools for your support. The event is a South Washington County Schools Education Foundation fundraiser that has been missed for three years and it was wonderful to have it back. Thanks to all who made this night a success.

Natalie Seim,Extravaganza Chair South Washington County Schools Education Foundation

State should approve, celebrate same-sex marriage

Any day now, our state's elected leaders will vote on a bill that would extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples. I urge them to vote yes. The desire of any two people to take responsibility for each other and enter into marriage is something our state ought to celebrate.

I serve as pastor of Community United Church of Christ in St. Paul Park. My husband Javen is preparing for ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. We are both native Minnesotans, but met as students at seminary in Connecticut. Four years ago on May 22, surrounded by friends and family, we were married in the seminary chapel. Before God, we made sacred vows to love and honor one another in sickness and health, when times are good and when things get tough. We made a public promise of responsibility for each other and asked our loved ones to support us and hold us accountable. We married for the same reasons heterosexual couples marry, and we want what any married couple wants: the opportunity to live into the promises we have made, and the legal rights and protections that will allow our family to flourish.

We may look different from other couples, but we share similar values. We believe in the importance of family and serving our community. We worry about making ends meet and finding time for one another. We dream of one day raising children and we hope to grow old together. Javen and I long for the day when our civil society reflects God's embrace of all loving families, with no exceptions. We pray that our legislators will vote yes to expand the freedom to marry.

Oby Ballinger, Ballinger is pastor at Community United Church of Christ, St. Paul Park

Same-sex couples want to make lifetime promise of love

The Minnesota Legislature has two bills, Senate File 925 and House File 1054, that will be going to the floor over the next few weeks regarding the freedom to marry for loving and committed same-sex couples in Minnesota. I support freedom to marry because I believe that marriage is about love, commitment and responsibility.

Same-sex couples, like me and my partner of 22 years, want to marry for the same reasons that anyone else does: to make a lifetime promise of love and commitment. I have had some people say to me, "Why not a civil union?" Civil unions do not say "we are family" the same way that marriage does. We are an active part of our community. We work, pay taxes, volunteer and attend church just like our married neighbors.

As a Christian, I believe the golden rule that teaches us that we should do unto others as we would want others to do unto us. I still believe religious institutions should have the freedom to decide whom they can and can't marry. If these bills become law, no religion would be forced to marry same-sex couples, if doing so conflicts with their religious beliefs. Just as no religious group should be prevented from performing a marriage for a couple it sees fit to bless.

Jennifer Truman, Afton