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Kentucky editorial roundup

Associated Press Updated: January 21, 2015 at 2:48 pm

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:

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Jan. 21

Daily News, Bowling Green, Kentucky, on same-sex marriage:

As a country, America is greatly divided over the issue of same-sex marriage.

A recent Washington Post-ABC poll shows Americans are equally divided at 50 percent on whether Americans believe gay men and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry.

The U.S. Supreme Court has said it will take up the issue to determine whether the gay marriage bans overwhelming approved by voters in dozens of states are legal.

We believe voters in the states where these bans were voted in should have their voices upheld by the high court, but ultimately it is up to the justices to decide on the constitutionality.

One aspect of the same-sex marriage debate that is a concern and seems insulting to the black community is how some advocates compare the issue to the civil rights movement.

Comments such as these have rightfully brought angry responses from some leaders of the black community. They believe the struggle for civil rights and the issue of same-sex marriage couldn't be any more different.

One such person who tried to compare this to the civil rights movement is Saundra Ardrey, head of the political science department at Western Kentucky University.

Ardrey believes it's a great issue for the courts to decide and believes it is reminiscent of the 1950s and 1960s, when the Supreme Court stepped in to protect African-Americans' right to vote.

However, voting rights protection for blacks was not given by the Supreme Court, but was rather enacted by Congress in the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

To compare the very unfair treatment black Americans had to go through under Jim Crow laws and earlier discrimination in Northern cities to the fight to allow gays the right to get married is just wrong.

Blacks weren't allowed to use the same bathroom or water fountains as whites, blacks couldn't eat at the same restaurants as whites, blacks couldn't attend the same schools as whites, stay at the same hotels as whites, weren't allowed to live in the same neighborhoods as whites or go to public swimming pools and had to sit in balconies at all white theaters, etc.

Gays are allowed to do everything black people for so long weren't able to do. How often do you hear stories of gays being denied access to theaters or restaurants, schools or swimming pools because of their sexuality?

That's the difference. This is why people like Ardrey and others who support same-sex marriage are simply reaching to try to compare their struggle to practices that unjustly oppressed a people for nearly 200-plus years.

These comparisons don't come close to measuring up.

Members of the black community have a right to be offended that people would try to compare legalizing same-sex marriage to the civil rights movement.

We believe those who are doing so are simply trying to advance their agendas.

In doing so, they are wrongfully attempting to equate this effort to the oppression blacks experienced on multiple levels for far too long.

Online:

http://www.bgdailynews.com

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Jan. 18

The News-Enterprise, Elizabethtown, Kentucky, on public health:

There should be no question about the health risks associated with tobacco smoke.

Studies reveal time and again the devastating toll the habit inflicts within the bodies of those who choose to smoke. Heart disease, lung cancer, stroke and a long list of other serious chronic illnesses and disease have been documented as far more likely among smokers than for the general public.

But for those who don't smoke, these risks are no less serious when exposed to the secondhand smoke emitted by those who do.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk for heart disease increases 25-30 percent for nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke. And exposure to exhaled tobacco smoke increases the chances of lung cancer for the nonsmoker by 20-30 percent. The CDC reports 2.5 million nonsmokers have died since 1964 as a result of illness caused by secondhand smoke exposure.

Many will position protection of personal freedom in their opposition to any restrictions to smoking in public. However, the possibility of a comprehensive smoke-free law boils down to a simple fact.

It is a matter of public health.

According to a report titled "The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke" published by the U.S. Surgeon General, eliminating smoking in indoor spaces is the only way to fully protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke. The most effective way to achieve this is through public policy. A growing majority of Kentuckians agree.

The Kentucky Health Issues Poll conducted late last year reports nearly 66 percent of Kentucky adults favor a state law that would prohibit smoking in most public places including workplaces, public buildings, offices, restaurants and bars. That supporting sentiment has grown from just 48 percent in 2010.

Nonsmokers in Kentucky deserve the protection a comprehensive statewide smoke-free law would provide in eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke in public places.

It's time to clear the air for Kentuckians in all communities across our state, not just the one-third of those that have smoke-free public ordinances in place.

This General Assembly must accomplish what past legislative sessions have failed to do. Pass House Bill 173.

Online:

http://www.thenewsenterprise.com

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Jan. 18

Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader on Keystone XL pipeline:

Mitch McConnell's decision to kick off his tenure as Senate majority leader with a vote on the Keystone XL pipeline is igniting a debate that could force his fellow Republicans to say whether they think human-caused climate change is real.

In Kentucky, Keystone raises questions of a more local, even personal, nature: How to protect farms, forests, home places and property rights from energy companies that claim the power of eminent domain? Also, how to make smart decisions about routing pipelines and their above-ground infrastructure?

Kentucky lies between booming shale oil and gas fields to the north and refineries and chemical processors on the Gulf. A plan to build a natural gas liquids pipeline through 13 counties was dropped last year after an outcry of opposition and a Franklin Circuit Court ruling that the company could not force landowners to sell.

There are bound to be other proposals for new pipelines and converting existing ones to carry natural gas byproducts known as NGLs, including ethane, propane and butane, which are explosive and also pose a threat of groundwater contamination. There's already a plan to convert a natural gas pipeline that runs from Greenup County through Morehead and Campbellsville to NGLs.

When the legislature reconvenes next month, it should:

— Make clear that the power of eminent domain is exclusively reserved for pipelines and infrastructure that serve public utilities.

— Bring pipeline proposals that do not serve public utilities under the siting rules that already govern non-public electrical transmission and generation.

House Bill 103, sponsored by Rep. David Floyd, R-Bardstown, is a good start on defending property rights, but the bill should be made more airtight and include siting requirements.

Kentuckians who question whether stronger protections are needed should consider what's happening to rural Nebraskans whose land Trans- Canada, a Canadian company, says it has the power to take by eminent domain.

Keystone would move oil extracted from Alberta tar sands to Gulf coast processors. The project needs federal approval because it crosses an international border.

In 2011, Nebraska's legislature and Republican governor carved out exemptions in state law that gave TransCanada the power to condemn land and bypass the state's siting process.

A lower court struck down the special treatment for TransCanada. Last week, four of the seven justices on Nebraska's Supreme Court also ruled that the law giving TransCanada the power of eminent domain was unconstitutional. But Nebraska requires a supermajority of at least five justices to overturn a law. The other three justices declined to rule on the constitutional questions, opting instead to say the plaintiffs lacked standing, TransCanada won, and the landowners and public lost, through default.

Ranchers, fearful that a pipeline projected to create 35 permanent jobs will pollute the great water source that is the Ogallala Aquifer and damage their land, are planning their next move but face powerful, monied interests that reach all the way to the top of the U.S. Senate.

McConnell owes his re-election to the votes of rural Kentuckians who saw him as a defender of conservative values such as defending private property. He should think twice about pushing a project that is trampling the rights of rural people.

Online:

http://www.kentucky.com

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