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When the government makes anyone bend to their will, it’s a dictatorship. Forcing the church to provide contraceptives is not about women’s health or religious beliefs. It’s about the government making a group of people do something they don’t want to do.Democrats and liberals want the separation of church and state. They whine and cry about it all the time. “I don’t want to look at the Ten Commandments on a wall.” “I don’t want to hear the word ‘God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance.” “I shouldn’t have to hear the word ‘God’ because I don’t believe in God.” Well, guess what. The churches don’t provide birth control because they don’t believe in it.The church and the state can’t be separate if the government is involving itself in the church. So where are all the Democrats and liberals? They should be angry that the government is not keeping the church and state separate.Churches have the right to provide whatever health service they want, and if that doesn’t include contraception, then they shouldn’t have to. It’s their organization. If women want that benefit, they can pay for it themselves or they can find a new job where the insurance will cover it.I want to make this crystal clear. I have no religious beliefs. However, I am standing with the church. Its rights are under attack today, but my rights might be under attack tomorrow.Jolene VarleyCarbondale

Thank you for your wonderful story of Feb. 12 on the work of the Street Cat Coalition. I don’t think it can be an accident that both the Post Independent and the Aspen Daily News chose to spotlight local animal welfare organizations the weekend before Valentine’s Day.High Tails Dog & Cat Outfitters opened its doors on Valentine’s Day 2004, and we have seen the effectiveness of so many efforts to help animals in our valley. We’re pleased and honored to do what we can in this ongoing community, uniting a labor of love. We are fortunate in so many ways to live here, and not least because the bond with our animal companions is so widely and deeply shared. I know from working in animal shelters elsewhere that this community is unique and special. The shelters, rescue groups, foster homes, veterinarians, groomers, trainers and retailers like us work together, and enjoy the active support of groups such as the Roaring Fork Kennel Club. Every time we have participated in events or fundraising for homeless animals or pets in need, we’ve seen the goals met and exceeded. There is an incredibly strong network of “animal professionals” who share resources and expertise freely to help every animal that crosses their path. And there is the big-hearted community that without its hard work and generosity little could be done.The Valentine’s Day holiday is about love, and animals bring love and joy to all our lives, 24/7. So, thank you, local papers, for acknowledging and celebrating the many ways we try to return that love.Laurie Raymond Glenwood Springs

On Saturday, Feb. 11, I had the privilege to attend a backyard chicken seminar on some beautiful property up Main Elk Creek. One of the aims of this seminar was to raise awareness for a City Council meeting coming up on March 1 addressing the current Glenwood Springs ban on owning chickens in the city limits. From my research I have gathered that every other town in Garfield County allows residents to keep chickens. Even cities such as Denver and New York City allow backyard chickens.Before getting into the reasons why we should allow backyard chickens, let’s look at possible reasons they were banned in the first place. A large argument about keeping fowl in a city setting is that they are likely to attract predators to the area. It’s a legitimate argument, except by those standards we should also ban cats from being outside, or small dogs, and while we are at it let’s ban Dumpsters and fruit trees, as these attract predators to our area as well. I can also see noise being a concern. Chickens do love to “talk” and I can see how it might be annoying to a neighbor. However you can melt your neighbor’s heart with a dozen fresh eggs a week. Roosters are no doubt loud, and with backyard chickens being raised for egg production there is no reason for having roosters. Many cities don’t allow roosters. The merits of having chickens are far more numerous than the pitfalls. First off, eggs are a great source of protein. Anyone who eats a fresh egg with its deep yellow yolk can tell you it is far superior than the average supermarket variety. Chickens are a great disposal unit. With landfills filling up with food scraps, it only makes sense to utilize biological methods for food disposal such as chickens and composting. Lastly, let’s work on our local food production by encouraging locals to raise chickens. I believe backyard chickens will be a great step in the long-term sustainability of Glenwood Springs. Come show your support on March 1 at City Hall.Chase MacekGlenwood Springs


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