Tuesday, June 5, 2012

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Updated: Wisconsin’s fate pivots on recall of ‘100 percent pro-life’ Governor Walker

by Ben Johnson Tue Jun 05 18:21 EST Comments (6)

Governor Scott Walker.
Governor Scott Walker.
Julaine Appling of Wisconsin Family Action.
Julaine Appling of Wisconsin Family Action.

UPDATE: Thursday evening results are that Walker has survived the recall vote.

MADISON, WISCONSIN, June 5, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – 
One bitter election controversy ends in Wisconsin this evening and another begins, as Wisconsin voters stream into the polls to vote on whether to recall Governor Scott Walker in a showdown observers say will determine the shape of this November’s presidential election.

Governor Walker, a Republican who defeated Democrat Tom Barrett in 2010, faces a recall after enacting a series of effective but unpopular financial reforms that limit public sector collective bargaining. The reforms sparked a union-led backlash that resulted in the possibility he will leave office after eighteen months.

Wisconsin’s pro-life, pro-family leaders say if Walker loses to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, the result would be calamitous.

“Governor Walker has already signed into law several pro-life bills during his short, two-year tenure in office,” Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action, told LifeSiteNews.com.” He says he is 100 percent pro-life, and he that he has certainly done things so far that show he is truly 100 percent pro-life. To lose him would mean quite a setback for the pro-life movement in Wisconsin.”

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Walker signed a ban on telemed abortions, where pregnant women are given abortion-inducing drugs without a personal visit with the abortionist himself. His financial reforms included ending a $130,000 state contract with Planned Parenthood.   

Both Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and NARAL Pro-Life America of Wisconsin have endorsed Walker’s opponent, Tom Barrett, as have President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton.

Appling told LifeSiteNews that before he was mayor, Barrett “had a terrible track record as it relates to protecting the sanctity of life when he was in the House of Representatives.” While Governor Walker barred the state health exchange from funding abortion, Barrett favors covering abortion under the exchanges, which will be enacted in 2014 as part of the president’s health care law. 

“He is the opposite of Governor Walker on every issue,” she said.

Despite their comparative records on abortion, 26 Jesuit priests – including Father Thomas A. Lawler, SJ, a member of the Marquette University Board of Trustees – signed the petition to recall Walker.

Political figures around the nation have weighed in on the gubernatorial election. Political PACs and concerns located outside the state provided one quarter of Barrett’s war chest and much more of Walker’s campaign funds. Former President Clinton campaigned for Barrett, while Barack Obama tweeted his support from afar. Barrett told the media he was not disappointed by Obama’s absence.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who is often touted as a vice presidential candidate for Mitt Romney, endorsed Walker.

“This is for all the marbles,” Appling told LifeSiteNews. “It’s about freedom, life, marriage, family, prosperity. It’s everything.”

The electoral contest is also being touted as a contest to see which political party is better organized. Wisconsin has narrowly favored Democrats in the last few presidential elections, and Republicans hope disappointment over the sour economy will turn the state in their favor.

A party shift in the state house will effect the state but send a message far beyond.

“The path to November runs squarely through today’s recalls here in Wisconsin,” Appling said. “This is Ground Zero right now.”

An estimated three million voters will vote in today’s recall election. 


Tags: scott walker, wisconsin, wisconsin family action

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Illinois attorney general to support lawsuits to impose same-sex ‘marriage’ on state

by Calvin Freiburger Tue Jun 05 17:13 EST Comments (16)

Lisa Madigan

ILLINOIS, June 5, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has joined a legal effort to impose same-sex “marriage” on the state, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Madigan’s office filed a notice Friday that she will intervene in favor of lawsuits filed by Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois in Cook County Circuit Court on behalf of twenty-five same-sex couples. The suits allege that by not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the Cook County clerk’s office is violating the equal-protection and due process rights of same-sex couples under the Illinois Constitution.

Madigan has pledged to take the plaintiffs’ side in court and “explain why the challenged statutory provisions do not satisfy the guarantee of equality under the Illinois Constitution.”

Illinois Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn favors redefining marriage, and Cook County Clerk David Orr has also expressed his support for the lawsuits.

“As everyone who has followed this issue knows, I fully support the right of people to marry, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation,” Orr said. “Nobody should have to pass a gender test to get a marriage license.”

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But conservative critics argue that the cases are clearly without merit, and blasted the attorney general for reneging on her duty to defend the law.

“The Attorney General’s job is to defend the laws of Illinois, not deep-pocketed special interest groups,” said Thomas More Society executive director and legal counsel Peter Breen. “True equality comes from each citizen’s vote being equally valued and the legislative process being respected, not circumvented by those who wish to subvert the will of the people.”

Breen also criticized arguments that the state’s laws reserving marriage to a man and a woman violate the right to privacy and equal protection.

“To date, the state right of privacy has been limited to protecting personal information and evidence gathering in criminal cases, not personal conduct,” he said. “And, in any event, the state right of privacy does not require the State of Illinois to give public recognition to a private relationship.”

“Finally, as many state and federal courts have acknowledged, the marriage law does not discriminate on the basis of sex because neither sex is allowed to enter into a same-sex marriage,” he added.

In a phone interview with LifeSiteNews, Breen said he expects the suits to fail, but would refrain from predicting how exactly the process will unfold until the state’s attorney for Cook County, Anita Alvarez, comments on the case.

“We fully expect the state’s attorney to defend the clerk and defend state law, and then for us to support her in that effort,” Breen said. “If that doesn’t occur we are researching and investigating the alternatives.”

In a statement released on May 30, the Illinois Family Institute noted that same-sex couples already enjoy “all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of marriage” under the state’s civil union law, meaning that homosexual activists are really agitating for the “symbolic victory” of same-sex “marriage,” not to alleviate actual discrimination.

“It’s now painfully obvious that the purpose for securing civil unions legislation last year was to gain legal leverage in the left’s attempt to overturn the IL Defense of Marriage law,” said IFI executive director David E. Smith.

This is not Attorney General Madigan’s first foray into homosexual activism. Last year, the conservative Illinois Review obtained documents revealing that Madigan sent letters to six faith-based adoption agencies accusing them of “discriminat[ing] against Illinois citizens based on religion, marital status and sexual orientation in its provision of adoption and foster care services” for refusing to place children with same-sex couples.

Tags: illinois, lisa madigan

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‘Walking through fire’: A mother’s desperate fight against breast cancer, and for her unborn baby

by Peter Baklinski Tue Jun 05 16:18 EST Comments (32)

Pam and her son Thomas for whom she walked through the fire. Thomas is a “perfectly fine strapping young man,” she says, who plays football, runs track, and does well at school.
Thomas Goris, 6 days old. With a grade four bleed on his brain, doctors asked Pamela if she wanted to let her son go.
Pamela and her husband Tom. At one point, Tom began to be swayed by the unanimous advice of the doctors that the pregnancy should be terminated to give his wife the best chance of survival.

MEQUON, Wisconsin, June 5, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – “Pam, I have some bad news…,” the breast-care coordinator from the hospital said hesitatingly over the phone. “It turns out that your tumor is… well it’s malignant… I’m sorry.”

Pamela Goris, 28, felt a wave of devastation wash over her as she put down the phone. The mother of two young children quietly cried and prayed, closely cradling her nine-month-old Joseph in her arms, as haunting thoughts of her children growing up motherless paraded grimly before her.

“I’m not going to be here to see this little baby go to Kindergarten,” she thought as tears streamed down her face. How would her impetuous eight-year-old son Adam survive without her guidance, she wondered. How would her husband Tom take the news?

What made these thoughts seem even darker for the young mother was the dismal realization that the newest member of the Goris family, whose existence had just been confirmed by a pregnancy test the day before, was probably never going to see the light of day. Pam and her husband Tom had eagerly welcomed the tidings of a new member coming into their blossoming family. But now yesterday’s perfect joy seemed to Pam to be suddenly eclipsed by the dreadful prognosis.

“If you want to save your life…have an abortion”

It was October 1996 when the happily married mom first became concerned about her health after discovering a lump in one of her breasts. A mammogram indicated nothing amiss, but the results of a biopsy revealed that a virulent cancer was attacking her body.

A few days after the call, a surgeon at the hospital told Pam and her husband that if they wanted to keep their two-week-old pregnancy, then lumpectomy — which would remove the tumor — was not an option since the procedure would be followed by the necessary radiation treatment, which could cause serious damage to the developing baby. In the best interests of the baby, mastectomy was the only viable option, the doctor said.

Pam agreed to the full removal of her breast because she wanted to do all she could to keep her unborn baby safe. After waking weak and dazed from the operation, Pam was immediately told by her oncologist that the cancer had spread further than expected, infecting her lymph nodes. She was told that she must be prepared to make decisions that would be in her best interest.

“I have to tell you that as your oncologist, you are my patient and my goal is to save your life,” Pam remembers her oncologist saying. “If we want to save your life, the best thing for you to do would be to have an abortion.”

The oncologist explained how Pam’s hormones from the pregnancy were actually encouraging the growth of the cancer cells in her body. Pam was told that she needed to start chemotherapy right away and that she might as well terminate the pregnancy since the fetus would not be able to cope with the severity of the treatment. She was told that common side effects of the treatment included fetal malformation and even spontaneous abortion.

While Pam was devastated by the advice, she nonetheless told her doctor that she “didn’t believe in abortion” and wanted to do all she could to “keep my baby safe.”

“End your pregnancy and focus on saving your life,” she remembers the doctors repeatedly telling her. The exact same advice was given when Pam sought a second opinion from a renowned doctor at a different hospital.

To walk through the fire

At this point, Pam’s husband Tom began to be swayed by the unanimous advice of the doctors. “I just want you to be alive with me, to be with me, and to take care of our children,” Pam remembers Tom pleading with her. “I don’t want you to die. We can have more babies later,” he said.

Pam began to second-guess her original decision. As a happily married woman she never thought that she would be in a position where she would have to face the question of abortion. “To have to make that decision when you are happily married and thinking that ‘life is great’ was a big shock and a surprise,” she remembers.

“To have a doctor tell you that ‘you need to do this to save your life’ really sways you and it sways your family members.”

Pam recalled how her husband’s parents were pushing for her to act on the advice of the doctors while her own parents where in favor of finding a solution that would respect both her life and the life of her unborn baby.

“It was a difficult situation to be in,” she said, “but at the end of the day I knew that ultimately I would be the one who had to live with the decision that was made.”

To bring a different perspective into the situation, Pam’s parents urged a dear friend of the family, a Catholic priest, to visit the distressed mother.

Fr. John Cerkas approached Pam with a simple question: “Pamela, if your house was on fire and your children Joseph and Adam were trapped inside, would you walk through the fire to save them?”

“Of course,” she replied instantly, “you wouldn’t be able to keep me out of that fire. I would be in there in a heartbeat.”

“You need to walk through the fire for this baby in your womb,” the priest suggested softly.

Like a lightning flash splitting the darkened night, the priest’s words pierced Pam’s heart. She suddenly realized that the baby that she was carrying in her womb was really no different than any of her other children that were already born.

“Why are we even talking about abortion,” she exclaimed. “I would do anything to save any of my kids.” 

Bald, pregnant and one-breasted

The courageous mother made a firm decision to do whatever she could to save her own life while at the same time doing everything possible to keep her baby safe. “No more talk about abortion,” she remembers telling her husband. “We are going to trust, hope, and pray. And whatever happens, happens.”

The next few months were difficult. Pam and her husband were put in contact with a doctor from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas who had successfully treated a number of pregnant mothers with chemotherapy. This doctor told the parents that as long as the treatment commenced after 13 weeks of pregnancy, then the baby would have a “good chance” of survival. He also told them about special chemotherapy drugs that would be much safer for the baby and just as effective in fighting the cancer.

In January 1996, Pamela began the six rounds of chemotherapy that would be administered to her every three weeks. After the first round, Pam lost all her hair.

“I was bald, pregnant, and one breasted,” she recalled. “Not the greatest thing in the world.” Tom, who had gained a new-found respect for Pam and the life she carried within her, often joked that his wife was “the best bald, pregnant, one-breasted woman” that he had ever seen.

“We tried to keep our sense of humor,” Pam remembers. “And we prayed a lot.”

At the fifth round of chemotherapy, 13 weeks before the baby was due, Pam’s waters unexpectedly broke. She was kept on bed rest for two weeks, but when the doctors feared that an infection was setting in, they induced labor.

On April 23, Thomas was born weighing a mere three pounds. Pam briefly cuddled her little boy for whom she had walked through the fire before he was whisked away to the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

A miracle

But not all was well with tiny Thomas. He had developed a grade four bleed on his brain, which is the worst kind. Not only can brain bleeds cause permanent brain damage, but they are fatal in many cases. Doctors asked Pam if she wanted to let her son go.

“There’s no way we’ve come this far just to let him die,” she remembers responding passionately to them. “We’re going to do everything we can to save him. I’m not giving up on Thomas.”

Baby Thomas remained in the ICU, hooked up to numerous medical life lines. His doctors decided to postpone a brain shunt surgery until it would be absolutely necessarily to save his life. Pam remembers how doctors were constantly surprised that the little boy managed to somehow keep holding death at bay.

Exactly seven days after Thomas’ birth, something medically inexplicable happened. Doctors, who were examining the boy’s brain by ultrasound, were astounded to discover that the bleed had vanished.

“I don’t know how to explain this,” Pam remembers the doctor telling her, “but the bleed is gone, it’s completely gone. Thomas’ brain looks completely normal and healthy.”

Pam believes that she knows what really happened. “Truly, we do believe it was a miracle of prayer. So many people had been lifting me and Thomas up in prayer.”

All’s well that ends well

Pam, now 44, says that her 16-year-old son Thomas is a “perfectly fine strapping young man” who plays football, runs track, and does well at school. He has no health problems and is “perfectly normal,” she says.

“He’s my angel, the one who always wants everyone else to be happy and who is always giving his share to someone else.” Both Pam and her husband, who now have six children, cannot even begin to imagine life without Thomas.

“Had I listened to the advice of the top doctors at two different hospitals, he wouldn’t be here now.”

Pam believes that Thomas is alive and well because God honored her decision to walk through the fire for her boy.

“I really do think his life is a miracle, and when you place your complete trust in God, miracles happen, wonderful things happen. We just have to trust in God,” she said.

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Editor’s note: LifeSiteNews reporter Peter Baklinski extends thanks to Pro-Life Wisconsin for putting LifeSiteNews in contact with Pamela Goris and for posting her testimony on Youtube. Information for “Walking though fire: The story of a mother’s courageous love for her child” was drawn from Goris’ Youtube testimony as well as from an interview with Goris by LifeSiteNews.

Tags: abortion

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Catholics’ contraception heresy

by Judie Brown Tue Jun 05 15:58 EST Comments (25)

Judie Brown

June 5, 2012 (ALL.org) - To obstinately deny an infallible teaching of the Catholic Church is an act of heresy. That being said, when it comes to contraception, a variety of studies and surveys conclude that the majority of Catholic women support the practice of contraception. Even so, “98 percent of Catholics use birth control” mantra is hogwash.

The USCCB has repeatedly debunked the claim, effectively arguing that the percentages are skewed and designed to pave the way for acceptance of the Obama mandate. This is all good, but such arguments do not address the fundamental problem.

The reality is that most Catholics do not oppose the use of contraception, nor do they think it is sinful to use it. Even though the Church has always taught that the use of contraception separates an individual from Christ, the average Catholic is either unaware of this or is in denial about it. In fact, what is provable is that Catholic women use contraception at the same rate as their non-Catholic counterparts.

This is precisely what the fundamental problem is—a crisis in authority within the Church, not the Obama administration mandate.

The infallible teaching of the Church does not change with modern practices or Gallup poll results or federal regulations. But when the faithful refuse to understand such teaching or fail to comprehend the gravity of offending God by certain actions, the challenge is to remedy the situation. This has nothing to do with Obama or his mandate, but rather it has everything to do with the clear possibility that the Church’s bureaucracy — the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops — will lose this political battle because Catholics will not accept truth. From my perspective I find it truly deplorable that, in opposing the Obama mandate on contraception and attempting to muster Catholic action in opposition to the mandate, the USCCB does not understand why there is so much apathy among Catholics in the first place. The bishops’ failure to teach has apparently not occurred to them as yet.


Pope Paul VI eloquently explained what is wrong with contraception: “The fundamental nature of the marriage act, while uniting husband and wife in the closest intimacy, also renders them capable of generating new life—and this as a result of laws written into the actual nature of man and of woman. And if each of these essential qualities, the unitive and the procreative, is preserved, the use of marriage fully retains its sense of true mutual love and its ordination to the supreme responsibility of parenthood to which man is called. We believe that our contemporaries are particularly capable of seeing that this teaching is in harmony with human reason.”

Contraception contradicts human reason and the nature of the human person, and insults the awesome mystery of the marital act. Today’s culture, soaked as it is in immoral sexual innuendo and practice of every kind, rejects this truth. Catholics, in large part, are of the same mind and therefore do not interpret the use of contraception as wrong because the rejection of contraception does not suit their personal agenda of sexual gratification at all costs.

The bishops, if truly concerned about the state of the Catholic soul in a grave matter such as the acceptance of contraception, must begin investing individually in catechesis, homiletics, and personal involvement. They must refute the cultural norms by standing in the gap to defend and teach the faithful, making every effort to save souls.

Lobbying will not accomplish this.

Petition campaigns will not accomplish this.

But through grace and the strong will to defy the status quo and begin anew to educate the individuals within their flock, the Catholic bishops can accomplish this.

They may get bad press, guffaws from political pundits, and derision among dissenters within the priesthood and without, but that is the price to be paid for teaching truth in a cultural moral freefall.

Judie Brown is president and cofounder of American Life League and a three-time appointee to the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Tags: contraception

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Leading Orthodox rabbi slams Jewish Conservatives’ gay ‘marriage’ vote

by Angela O’Brien Tue Jun 05 15:21 EST Comments (22)

Rabbi Yehuda Levin

WASHINGTON, June 5, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) — After leaders in the Conservative Jewish community voted to officially endorse gay marriage rituals, one leading Orthodox rabbi has said the move is “depraved” and “turning everything holy on its head.”

Last week, guidelines for performing same-sex “marriages” were voted on by the Jewish Conservatives’ highest legal body, the Rabbinical Assembly’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards. The guidelines passed in a 13-0 vote, with one rabbi abstaining.

“We acknowledge that these partnerships are distinct from those discussed in the Talmud as ’according to the law of Moses and Israel,’ but we celebrate them with the same sense of holiness and joy as that expressed in heterosexual marriages,” the approved document says.

The approval by the Conservative branch of Judaism in the United States of gay unions follows on the prior support of the Reform and Reconstructionist branches.

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But Rabbi Levin—an Orthodox Jewish leader who often functions as a spokesman for the Rabbinical Alliance of America and the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the U.S. and Canada—told LifeSiteNews that he is ashamed of the “depravity” and “total cravenness” of the vote.

The decision of the Rabbinical Assembly, Rabbi Levin said, reveals that “the ultra liberal Jewish crazies - who have long since abandoned any semblance of their great grand-fathers’ religion - pursue every political zeitgeist and have to run to get in front of the wagon as it hurtles down towards Sodom.”

The new guidelines allow for two kinds of gay wedding, as well as outline stipulations on homosexual divorce. To Rabbi Levin, the fact that any kind of gay union should be endorsed in the name of Judaism, in unconscionable. “Even pagans in ancient times realized how inappropriate same-gender marriage was,” he declared.

According to the Rabbinical Assembly’s website, homosexual rabbinical students helped to draft the new guidelines. “As treasured members of our community,” states the Rabbinical Assembly’s website, “they are most directly affected by the proposed new liturgy and we sought their guidance.” http://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/story/grappling-tradition

“We normal religious people have to see from all this craziness,” said Rabbi Levin, “that He [God] is sending us a message to look at ‘them’—the liberal crazies—and redouble our spiritual efforts to do proactively, loudly, and clearly, just the opposite.”

Tags: gay marriage, judaism, yehuda levin

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Amendment forcing Catholic schools to host GSA’s penned by homosexual activists

by Thaddeus Baklinski Tue Jun 05 14:51 EST Comments (34)


TORONTO, June 5, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Following on the heels of the passage of the ‘anti-bullying’ gay rights Bill 13 today by the Ontario government, it has come to light that the amendment to the Bill that specifies that schools must allow a gay-straight alliances (GSA) if a student demands it was originally submitted as an amendment proposal by the homosexual activist group Queer Ontario.

Matthew Wojciechowski of Campaign Life Coalition told LifeSiteNews that at the rally opposing Bill 13 held at Queens Park on May 31 he spoke with a homosexual activist who identified himself as Casey Oraa.

“I asked who he was with,” Wojciechowski said, “and he replied, ‘I’m with Queer Ontario, we wrote the amendments for Bill 13’.”

The group stated in a May 14, 2012 press release, “Queer Ontario submitted today a series of amendments to Bills 13 & 14 that would strengthen the language of the Bill …

“Also included within the submitted amendments is language that explicitly establishes the rights of students to choose the name of the LGBTQ support group they wish to form.”

“As it currently stands, we feel that the language surrounding Bill Provision 303.1(d) regarding Board support of students wishing to form LGBTQ support groups is unclear,” said Oraa, vice-chair of Queer Ontario, in the press release. “Adding ‘as determined by the pupil’ to this provision will ensure that naming rights rest in the hands of the students, as opposed to the school’s Board or staff.”

The amended section of the bill as passed today in the legislature states, “For greater certainty, neither the board nor the principal shall refuse to allow a pupil to use the name gay-straight alliance or a similar name for an organization described in clause (1) (d).”

“It’s significant to point out that the McGuinty government is taking its cue from homosexual activists,” Wojciechowski observed. “This should raise alarms for parents and Church leaders.”

Opponents of Bill 13 have called it an unprecedented attack on the rights of parents and freedom of religion in the province.

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Tags: bill 13, dalton mcguinty, ontario, queer ontario

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Nearly 200 Maine churches join forces to raise funds to defeat gay ‘marriage’ referendum

by Thaddeus Baklinski Tue Jun 05 14:15 EST Comments (16)


PORTLAND, Maine, June 5, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Almost two hundred Maine churches are expected hold a special Father’s Day collection to kick off fundraising in defense of true marriage as the state moves toward November’s referendum asking voters to legalize same-sex “marriage.”

“Marriage is under attack in Maine. For the first time in history, gay marriage activists have pursued a ballot measure to redefine marriage. Usually they prefer activist judges and radical politicians to redefine marriage, ignoring the wishes of voters,” the Protect Marriage Maine organization states on their website.

In 2009, Maine voters overturned efforts to redefine marriage in the state. By a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent in support of traditional marriage, voters rejected a same-sex “marriage” law that the state government had approved in May.

As happened in 2009, Maine’s pro-same-sex “marriage” activists have already substantially outspent the traditional marriage campaign.

According to the Bangor Daily News, the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, which requires political action committees involved in referendum campaigns to file reports on their financial activities, reported that “Mainers United for Marriage,” the organization advocating for same-sex “marriage” raised about $359,000 between April 1 and May 29, for a total of $464,723 this year.

The report states that Protect Marriage Maine reported raising $9,755 during the same period for a total of $11,440 for the year.

Carroll Conley Jr., executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine, one of the supporting organizations of Protect Marriage Maine, said that the amount of money raised does not reflect voters’ stand on the issue. In 2009 the pro homosexual “marriage” campaign spent more than $5 million, compared to $2.5 million spent by supporters of traditional marriage.

“I’m not that concerned about the money raised to this point,” Conley said. “We know from the last campaign that we aren’t going to be able to raise as much money as the other side will. If we are able to raise $1 million in this state, that would be tremendous.”

The Bangor Daily News reported that the largest single donation to the pro-same-sex marriage group came from a co-founder of Facebook, Chris Hughes and his homosexual partner, Sean Eldridge, who offered a $100,000 matching gift to the campaign to redefine marriage.

Protect Marriage Maine states that while same-sex couples in Maine already enjoy full legal rights, gay marriage activists are not satisfied. “They have continued to organize, raise money and mislead voters into believing we can remove the very fabric of society—marriage—and nothing bad will happen. Unfortunately, when marriage is redefined there are significant consequences to individuals, small businesses, churches, couples and especially to children.”

“The messaging we’re using is that those who are seeking to redefine marriage in Maine believe there’s no difference between moms and dads,” Carroll Conley told The Associated Press. “We believe those differences are relevant. We don’t think the differences in the genders are societally imposed roles, and we believe that children benefit when they’re in that ideal environment where there’s a mom and dad.”

The organizers of the special Father’s Day collection said that about 800 churches across the state had been contacted to support the initiative and that so far between 150 to 200 indicated they will participate.

“Traditional marriage is under attack,” Protect Marriage Maine warns. “This Father’s Day, we are encouraging churches to take a special offering that will help prevent gay marriage activists from imposing their radical agenda on our state.”

For more information visit the Protect Marriage Maine website here.

Tags: gay marriage, maine, marriage

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Dr. James Dobson insists he will not ‘bow before’ Obama’s ‘wicked’ abortion mandate

by Patrick B. Craine Tue Jun 05 14:09 EST Comments (54)

Dr. James and Shirley Dobson

June 5, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Renowned evangelical leader Dr. James Dobson has joined the chorus of religious leaders opposing Obama’s new healthcare plan, insisting that he will “not bow before” the President’s “wicked regulation.”

“I WILL NOT pay the surcharge for abortion services,” Dobson declares in a new column for WorldNetDaily. “So come and get me if you must, Mr. President. I will not bow before your wicked regulation.”

“The President’s Obamacare Lies” declares the headline of the article by the famed Focus on the Family founder.

Dr. Dobson refers to President Obama’s statement that “no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.” Contrary to this statement, Dr. Dobson identifies an abortion surcharge hidden within Obama’s signature healthcare law.

“The amount of the surcharge is irrelevant,” Dr. Dobson states, “…and I will do all I can to correct a government that lies to me about its intentions and then tries to coerce my acquiescence with extortion.” 

Dr. Dobson points out that the surcharge was enacted when Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, announced an expansion of Section 1303 of the Obamacare law.

“The president had parsed his words very carefully in 2009 when he said funding for abortion would not come from the federal government,” declares Dr. Dobson. “Clearly it won’t. It will be compelled by the federal government to come from YOU.”

The new ruling compelled millions of Americans to pay the minimum $12/per annum surcharge for abortions, regardless of whether or not they receive or even want abortions.

“I believe in the rule of law,” states Dr. Dobson, “and it has been my practice since I was in college to respect and honor those in authority over us. It is my desire to do so now. However, this assault on the sanctity of human life takes me where I cannot go.”

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California Senate approves ban on same-sex attraction therapy for minors

by Kathleen Gilbert Tue Jun 05 13:29 EST Comments (36)

Sen. Ted Lieu

SACRAMENTO, June 5, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A bill gagging therapists from pursuing same-sex attraction therapy with minors dissatisfied with their sexual orientation has passed the California state Senate.

The controversial bill by Democratic State Sen. Ted Lieu was amended for the fifth time before it was approved by state senators 23-13 along party lines. It will now go to the state Assembly.

SB 1172 had initially made it a crime for a mental health professional to conduct sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) with a consensual client “by means of therapeutic deception,” which was defined as “a representation by a psychotherapist that sexual orientation change efforts ... can or will reduce” homosexual conduct or desire. The latest version, which scrapped nearly the entire bill besides initial declarations, kept only the ban on SOCE for minors.

Lawmakers also deleted sweeping liability provisions that would have made it possible for a patient, former patient, deceased former patient’s parent, child, or sibling to sue a therapist for up to $5,000 with a statute of limitations ranging from five to eight years.

The mental health community remains split on the bill. A coalition representing several mental health professional groups opposed the bill last month as containing an overbroad definition of sexual orientation change efforts. Even after the sweeping amendments, one member says professionals are still not backing SB 1172.

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“The coalition has a position of ‘oppose, unless amended,” Jill Epstein, Executive Director of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT), a member of the coalition, told LifeSiteNews.com in an email Tuesday.  “We have concerns over the definition of ‘sexual orientation change efforts’ and we continue to work with the author’s office on this matter.”

Even opponents of so-called “conversion therapy” last month blasted the original bill for overreach, and specifically targeted the ban on therapy for minors.

“Legislators have no special insights into psychiatry, nor are they elected for their abilities as parents,” wrote the editors of the Los Angeles Times on May 11. “Frankly, it’s worrisome to have them stepping in to tell therapists what they may or may not say or do to treat patients. ... Those few parents who still are tempted to talk their children out of being gay will learn the error of their ways soon enough — without help from the government.”

The conservative Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) has called the bill unconstitutional and is teaming with professionals to highlight the “plethora of legal problems” that remain in SB 1172.

“As long as this bill threatens to shame patients and silence counselors, therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists, we will vigorously oppose it,” said PJI Staff Attorney Matthew McReynolds in a statement. “We cannot afford to let the state invade the counseling room or doctor’s office to dictate what views on sexuality are acceptable and unacceptable.”

The National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) said that the bill elicited outrage from “individuals who have overcome unwanted same-sex feelings sparked by childhood sexual abuse.” However, the group noted that “the hundreds of phone calls and emails to California senators by NARTH members and supporters” appeared to bear fruit in the latest revisions.

NARTH President Dr. Christopher Rosik said the vote “marks another triumph of political activism over objective science.”

“The American Psychological Association has observed that there are no studies by which to accurately estimate the effectiveness of sexual orientation change intervention or the prevalence of harm,” he said. “In NARTH’s view, a truly scientific response would call for more and better research to answer these questions, not a legislative ban that runs roughshod over professional judgment and parental choice.”

California Assembly members contact info.

Tags: california, homosexuality, soce

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Equal rights for unborn feminists!

by Matt Barber Tue Jun 05 12:11 EST Comments (12)

Matt Barber

June 5, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - When you’re on the wrong side of Planned Parenthood, you’re on the right side of history.

The left’s disingenuous and intellectually lazy “war on women” talking points have blown up in its face. Most polls show Mitt Romney fast gaining on President Obama with female voters. Some polls even show him pulling ahead.

Still, it’s the multi-billion dollar abortion industry that may just give Romney the boost he needs to take a permanent lead. Just days after pro-life investigative group Live Action released devastating evidence that Planned Parenthood systemically engages in the grisly practice of sex-selection abortion – a charge to which it now admits – the cash-flush abortion Goliath has done Obama an ironic disservice by endorsing his re-election bid. The group has additionally launched a $1.4 million advertising campaign to smear Mitt Romney.

Let’s put aside for a moment the scandalous disclosure that while Planned Parenthood receives over 350 million per annum in your taxpayer dollars, it nonetheless spends millions engaging in partisan politicking for the DNC. Troubling as that may be, utterly horrific is the revelation that this extremist organization – which absurdly presumes to defend “women’s rights” – has been caught red-handed torturing little girls to death in mamma’s womb, simply because mamma wanted a boy.

This discovery – eerily reminiscent of Communist China’s forced one-child sex-selection policy – has shocked the conscience of an entire nation. So disturbing are the facts that on Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives voted on the Prenatal Non-Discrimination Act (PRENDA), H.R. 354, introduced by Republicans in Congress. Unbelievably, because the bill required a two-thirds majority for passage, Democrats were able to narrowly abort the measure by a vote of 246-168.

The legislation, which would have outlawed sex-selection abortions altogether, was also opposed by President Obama. This comes as little surprise when you consider that, while a state senator, Obama repeatedly fought Illinois’ Born Alive Infant Protection Act. This law simply required that when a baby survives a botched abortion – when she is “born alive” – further attempts to kill her must immediately cease, and steps must be taken to save her life.

Click ‘like’ if you want to END ABORTION!

But according to our president – leader of the “civilized” world – a law preventing the abortionist from finishing her off is “really designed simply to burden the original decision of the woman and the physician to induce labor and perform an abortion.”

This, coupled with Democratic support for sex-selection abortion (now on record), represents the true “war on women.” This is misogyny at its deadly worst. Take note, America: Obama and Democrats have officially endorsed the Mengelian practice of explicitly targeting little girls – over boys – for live dismemberment.

Still, there is good news here. This entire saga has placed in the national spotlight the irreconcilable incongruities central to our nation’s ongoing policy of legalized abortion on demand.

Consider, for instance, that under current federal and state law, if an off-duty abortionist – if any man, for that matter – physically assaults a woman and her unborn daughter dies, that man has committed murder. Yet if mom walks into Planned Parenthood and authorizes that same man to rip her baby girl limb-from-limb, it’s her “choice.” First case: murder. Second case: “choice.” Both cases: dead baby girl.

Furthermore, consider that – as established by a 2006 Zogby International poll of over 30,000 Americans in 48 states – 86 percent support a law banning sex-selection abortion. Doesn’t it stand to reason, then, that since the vast majority recognize the objectively reprehensible nature of sex-selection abortion, they, too, might recognize that it’s equally reprehensible for mom to have baby killed for no reason at all? This is what current law allows, without restriction, through the ninth month.

Indeed, incongruities abound. Still, it is the indefensible nature of empty “pro-choice” rhetoric that, I believe, will ultimately end legalized abortion in America. Truth, even when buried for decades, eventually has a way of rising to the surface.

It’s inevitable. Roe v. Wade will, in time, be tossed, alongside the slavery-justifying Dred Scott decision, exactly where both shameful scars on Lady Liberty belong: in the trash heap of historical inhumanity.
Just as those who excused slavery are reviled by history, so, too, will be those who called themselves “pro-choice.”

Matt Barber is an attorney concentrating in constitutional law. He serves as Vice President of Liberty Counsel Action.

Tags: live action, obama, planned parenthood, sex-selection abortion

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World Congress of Families signs declaration upholding natural family

by Patrick B. Craine Tue Jun 05 12:11 EST Comments (3)

MADRID, Spain, June 5, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Delegates at the World Congress of Families signed a declaration May 27th decrying “ideologies of statism, atomistic individualism, and sexual revolution” and affirming the natural family.

The Madrid Declaration reaffirms Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which says “the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state.” The declaration was adopted by 3,100 delegates assembled on May 25-27 for the World Congress of Families at the Palacio de Congresos in Madrid.

The World Congress of Families is a network of pro-family organizations from all over the world. They promote the rebuilding of the family as the “seed of civil society.” It was founded in 1997 by Allan Carlson, and has had 5 congresses since 1997.

The Declaration says, “Recent legal and public policy changes have corrupted the meaning and dignity of marriage, devalued parenting, encouraged easy divorce and births outside of marriage, confused sexual identities, promoted promiscuity, created conditions that increased child abuse, isolated the elderly, and fostered depopulation.”

Responding to this crisis, World Congress of Families VI endorsed a set of principles “to create a cultural and political environment that is compatible with life, liberty, and hope for the future.”

The Declaration includes a list of 17 affirmations of the natural family, the sanctity of life, and the dignity and rights of parents and children.

The Declaration can be found here.

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McGuinty ‘anti-bullying’ gay rights Bill 13 passes 65-36

by Patrick B. Craine Tue Jun 05 12:11 EST Comments (175)

Dalton McGuinty

TORONTO, Ontario, June 5, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The McGuinty government’s controversial homosexual ‘rights’ bill that forces homosexual activist clubs on the province’s schools, including those operated by the Catholic Church, passed its final vote in the legislature Tuesday.

Bill 13 passed at 11:50 a.m. in a vote of 65-36 with support from the Liberal and New Democrat parties, and opposition by the Progressive Conservatives.

The bill’s passage lays the groundwork for a possible constitutional battle with the province’s Catholic bishops.

“The battle begins,” said Mary Ellen Douglas, president of Campaign Life Coalition Ontario. ““The Minister of Education has said she will force the GSAs on Catholic schools, more or less whether they like it or not.”

“I’m hoping that the bishops of Ontario realize what the implications are of this vote and for Catholic schools and will stand firmly with their people behind them,” she continued. “We have to wake up the people who are paying those tax bills about what has just happened in the legislature today.”

The “anti-bullying bill” faced months of protests by parents and pro-family advocates who believe its hyper-focus on homosexual-related bullying represents a threat to parental rights and religious freedom.

The bill requires all publicly-funded schools to allow “gay-straight alliances”, though Ontario Human Rights Commission chief commissioner Barbara Hall has implied the bill could even be applied to private schools.

It required homosexual clubs from the beginning, but gave schools the option to refuse the name “gay-straight alliance” until the government introduced an amendment May 25th. It now requires schools to accept GSAs if requested by a student.

According to Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto, the amendment “overrides the deeply held beliefs” of the Church and “intrudes on its freedom to act in a way that is in accord with its principles of conscience.”

The possibility of a legal battle remains unclear as Archbishop Collins said before the vote that that discussion was premature.

Though the Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association opposed the “gay-straight alliance” amendment, they signaled that the school boards would obey the law if passed.

“If the amendment passes, our schools and our boards will comply with the legislation,” said OCSTA president Marino Gazzola. “If the legislation passes, we expect our boards will obey, but we will still have our options to look at.”

“The rights of Catholics to their own school system, which is guaranteed under the [British North America Act], are being trampled on,” said Douglas. “It’s time Catholics stood up for their rights.”

She warned also that Bill 13 is not an “Ontario event.” “Believe me, this will be coming to all of the provinces now. They need to watch too,” she said.

See related blog post:
Ontario Bill 13’s two shocks today - Steve Jalsevac

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UK school officials help 15-year-old get abortion without parental consent

by Christine Dhanagom Tue Jun 05 12:11 EST Comments (36)

June 5, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Officials in England are defending the actions of school staff who helped a teenage girl get an abortion behind her parent’s back.

The 15-year-old, who attends school in Salford, Greater Manchester, reportedly asked that the school be notified rather than her parents when she confirmed her pregnancy at a hospital.

According to the Manchester Evening News, staff at the school made sure she was “comfortable” with her decision to have an abortion and “supported her” when she went for the procedure. She was given time off school in order to have the procedure done during the school day.

The girl told her parents about the abortion after it was completed.

The school has not commented on the situation. John Merry, assistant mayor for services for children and young people at Salford council, defended the staff’s actions in comments to the Manchester Evening News.

“There are very clear and stringent national guidelines for schools to follow in these situations,” Merry said. “These guidelines are there in the best interests of the child and were followed correctly in these circumstances.”

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According to the UK’s controversial 2004 guidelines, a 1986 law allowing minors to be prescribed contraceptives without parental knowledge implicitly extends to abortion services as well. The policy was unsuccessfully challenged in court by the mother of two teenage daughters, one of whom was pregnant.

Commenting on the case, Michaela Aston, a teacher and spokeswoman for the pro-life charity LIFE, noted that parental consent is required before a school can give a child something as simple as Aspirin.

“Why should a procedure that is much more serious be done in secret? The school is being complicit in covering up and indeed contributing to a major, controversial and potentially damaging event in the life of someone’s daughter,” she said. “When schools collude with the abortion industry, they undermine parents’ rights and help drive a wedge of deceit and distrust between parents and their children. Just because the law may allow for this, does not make it moral or right.”

Aston also commented that returning responsibility for such decisions back to the parents might help reduce the number of teenage pregnancies and abortions in the country.

According to statistics from the UK Department of Health, there were 3,258 abortions performed in the country in 2011 on girls under 16.

Tags: abortion, uk

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One human heart: Wordsworth’s old Cumberland beggar and the sweetness of being human

by Anthony Esolen Tue Jun 05 12:11 EST Comments (4)

Wordsworth's Cumberland beggar

June 5, 2012 (thePublicDiscourse.com) - I am persuaded that the movement to demand that physicians corrupt themselves at the heart by assisting in the suicides of the superannuated is but a reaction of terror before a perceived inhumanity. We who have become the tools of our tools shudder at the last insult to our human nature, that we should be invaded by all the complicated paraphernalia of delay, to breathe our last in a dull white room, with the pitted panels of the drop-ceiling overhead (reckon up the chaos, O man, and count how many marks there are in one square), while the calls to the nurses come and go, and a television blares out the last few minutes of an inane comedy that was never once touched by youth or mirth or the milk of human kindness.

If I, old and dying, mean nothing at all, then let me mean nothing on my own terms. If I am to be swept out of consciousness, then let me ply the broom! But this is no argument. It is a cry of despair.

Such despair is inevitable, if we accept the notion that our humanity depends upon what we can do, rather than upon what we are. For the knees will creak, and the hands tremble, and the mind wander; and, whether for but a moment or for a year, we will be as helpless (though not as beautiful) as a newborn child, that most useless of creatures, who can do nothing but search for nourishment and love.

Then let us not try to fight unmeaning with unmeaning. Let us look again at the special beauty of being human, a beauty that is especially poignant in the child, the elderly, the unborn, and the dying.

One day the young poet William Wordsworth looked out upon the road and saw a figure from his childhood, a certain old man who trudged along the Cumberland roads, to beg from the villagers in their modest cottages. He stopped at a ledge at the bottom of a steep hill, placed there to help men remount their horses, and, taking his treasures from his bag,

He sat, and ate his food in solitude:
And ever, scattered from his palsied hand,
That, still attempting to prevent the waste,
Was baffled still, the crumbs in little showers
Fell on the ground; and the small mountain birds,
Not venturing yet to peck their destined meal,
Approached within the length of half his staff.

Such is the drama of the old man’s day. Wordsworth grants himself a gentle smile at the fellow, who doesn’t want to lose any of the bread he eats, but loses a little bit anyway, and who is so harmless that the small and timid birds manage to come within two feet of him, this mysterious creature, this man. We don’t know what is going on in the man’s mind. Wordsworth doesn’t allow himself that sentimentality. Whatever it may be, he is a part of both the natural world and the human village. There is a communion of sorts between him and the sparrows, he the more precious of that breed, and a communion between him and his fellow men.

For people are moved by him. Again, Wordsworth is not appealing to easy sentiment, but to action—the action of human souls. The sauntering horseman does not toss the beggar a coin, but stops, to make sure the alms are lodged safely in the man’s hat, and then, upon leaving him, “watches the aged Beggar with a look / Sidelong, and half reverted.” The exchange is not financial but human. The woman at the turnpike, when she sees him coming, leaves her booth and lifts up the latch for him to pass. The post-boy, harried with business, shouts to him from behind, but if the old man doesn’t hear, the boy slows down his horses and passes him on the roadside, “without a curse / Upon his lips, or anger at his heart.”

If the old man cannot earn his keep, can he at least behold with a full heart the beauty of the world around him? If we should insist upon it, then that, too, would reduce him to an object of utility. No, the man is so stooped, his eyes travel the ground at the same slow pace of his walk. He seems, quite literally, to make no mark on the world, as the world seems to make no mark on him:

His staff trails with him; scarcely do his feet
Disturb the summer dust; he is so still
In look and motion, that the cottage curs,
Ere he has passed the door, will turn away,
Weary of barking at him. Boys and girls,
The vacant and the busy, maids and youths,
And urchins newly breeched—all pass him by:
Him even the slow-paced wagon leaves behind.

What good is such a life?

Here Wordsworth turns with a glare at those who reduce “good” to utility, and utility to those economic speckles that can be counted up:

But deem not this Man useless.—Statesmen! Ye
Who are so restless in your wisdom, ye
Who have a broom still ready in your hands
To rid the world of nuisances; ye proud,
Heart-swoln, while in your pride ye contemplate
Your talents, power, or wisdom, deem him not
A burthen of the earth!

What nuisances, one might ask? The poor, whose souls we kill, while keeping their bodies well fed and at a comfortable distance? The simple, who shatter our dreams of Harvard, and whose habits embarrass us? The dying, who remind us of our mortality? The unborn, for whose little lives we are personally responsible? What good are these? But the goodness of being, the poet affirms, is absolute. All things partake of it, even the meanest creatures that creep on the earth; far more, then, does man, no matter how lowly. We cannot scorn that Beggar, unaccommodated Man, “without offence to God.”

But there is more. The old man is not only an object of charity. He is a living memorial to that kindness. He endows it with a human face—what no detachedly benign philanthropic system can do; and so connects his benefactors with their own better selves long past, and with one another:

While from door to door,
This old Man creeps, the villagers in him
Behold a record which together binds
Past deeds and offices of charity,
Else unremembered, and so keeps alive
The kindly mood in hearts which lapse of years,
And that half-wisdom half-experience gives,
Make slow to feel, and by sure steps resign
To selfishness and cold oblivious cares.

For some few, for the sublime and saintly among us, that beggar may bring them their first glimpse into a world of their own kindred amid sorrow and want; so it is that a Mother Teresa, that most unsentimental of women, will say that the poor, when they are loved, give more than they receive.

One thing they give us is the rare chance to break those fetters that can bind us tighter than sin: the fetters of right living. The Poor Woman of Leon Bloy’s novel, as she lies dying, will say with a heart filled with gratitude that the only tragedy is not to have been a saint. It is no tragedy to have missed out at a partnership in a law firm, or to have let slip one’s “dreams,” whatever those fantasies of power and glory may be. Wordsworth puts the point bluntly: what is there in the “cold abstinence from evil deeds” that can “satisfy the human soul”? A man pays his taxes, does not violate the law in any flagrant way, keeps well away from the marches of evil as mapped out by the latest scientists of ethics, votes for the correct candidates, and sends a check now and again to a distant charity. Does that satisfy the human soul? No more, I say, than a speckled ceiling or the drone of a television, or the false paternity of a government, or any other measure that keeps us conveniently apart from one another and from the good creatures with which we share this world.

For we need to love as well as to be loved:

Man is dear to man; the poorest poor
Long for some moments in a weary life
When they can know and feel that they have been,
Themselves, the fathers and the dealers-out
Of some small blessings; have been kind to such
As needed kindness, for this single cause,
That we have all of us one human heart.

That last line says all that I have been struggling to say here. The medicine for our inhumanity cannot be compounded of inhumanity. We must learn to love again—even to know our neighbors would be a good and toddling beginning. We must learn to love those incomparably useless and precious beings, the child, the elderly, the unborn, and the dying, because they and we are one.

Anthony Esolen is Professor of English at Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island, and the author of Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child and Ironies of Faith. He has translated Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberata and Dante’s The Divine Comedy. This article reprinted with permission from thePublicDiscourse.com.

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Top Anglican bishop condemns abortion, promiscuity, divorce in reflection on Queen’s Jubilee

by Patrick B. Craine Tue Jun 05 12:11 EST Comments (6)

Rt Rev Richard Chartres

LONDON, UK, June 5, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Right Reverend Richard Chartres, bishop of London, condemns abortion, divorce, and promiscuity in a new pamphlet that reflects on the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, which was celebrated in the past week.

Chartres raises concerns about the state of the family and its children in England, including the unborn, and says “the 2012 Jubilee offers us an opportunity to pause and reflect not only on an extraordinary reign but also on what the Jubilee could mean to us as a nation.”

The pamphlet, published by the Bible Society, is entitled Jubilee then and now: A big idea for the 21st century. In it Chartres reflects on the biblical meaning of jubilee, the history of the jubilee in England, and the present jubilee, before reflecting on the current social situation in England.

“Literally millions of children grow up without knowing a stable, loving, secure family life – and that is not to count the hundreds of thousands more who don’t even make it out of the womb each year,” he writes.

In 2010, 189,574 unborn children were aborted in England, according to British statistics, and 3.8 million children are caught up in the family justice system each year, with the number of single-parent families growing.

“Promiscuity, separation and divorce have reached epidemic proportions in our society,” writes Chartres. “Perhaps, then, we shouldn’t be surprised that depression and the prescription of anti-depressants has reached a similarly epidemic level.”

Between 2010 and 2011, divorces in England and Wales rose from 113,949 to 119,589, and many couples are now choosing not to get married to avoid the divorce.

Chartres points out the need for change in England saying, “We need a fresh narrative that appreciates the real virtues communicated by our history but which transcends our recent past.”

Right Reverend Richard Chartres’s leaflet is available here.

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Freedom of speech and M-312

by Dave Quist and Andrea Mrozek Tue Jun 05 12:11 EST Comments (1)

June 5, 2012 (IMFCanada.org) - “The House of Commons, however, is not a laboratory. It is not a house of faith, an academic setting or a hospital. It is a legislature, and a legislature deals with law, specifically, in this case, subsection 223(1) of the Criminal Code.” These were the words of one Gordon O’Connor, Chief Government Whip, with regards to Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth’s motion, M-312, which proposes a bi-partisan committee to discuss when life begins, and for which there will most likely be a vote on June 13.

M-312 has been “divisive.” Nothing proves this better than Gordon O’Connor’s fundamentalist rant during the first hour of debate. However, this non-binding motion, if passed, would do nothing more (and nothing less) than engender free discussion. If this topic is off limits then so too are a host of others, something not lost on the mainstream media. Dan Gardner commented in the Ottawa Citizen that with Gordon O’Connor’s speech, “the Government repudiated a big chunk of its own agenda,” including attempts to litigate on prostitution and what Gardner refers to as the Conservative Government’s war on illicit drugs.

It is possible to discuss thorny issues

A mere 40 years ago, Parliament appears to have had no problem grappling with thorny issues. “In 1966, Lester Pearson’s Liberal minority government moved discussion of divorce, contraception and abortion to a Standing Committee of the House of Commons,” writes Paul Tuns, editor of The Interim, a newspaper dedicated to life and family issues. He goes on: “The federal discussion would take place in the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare, signaling that politicians thought abortion to be more of medical issue than a legal one, despite its presence in the Criminal Code.”

M-312 not a slam dunk for pro-life camp

Neither is M-312 a slam dunk for the pro-life side. Many academics, doctors, theologians, activists, politicians and journalists will be fully prepared—only too happy—to testify that life does not begin at conception, which is Stephen Woodworth’s view. As such, M-312 may subject the pro-life camp to ridicule. Alternatively, many, (this includes the current President of the United States) will make the claim that knowing such concepts is “above their pay grade.”

Avoiding discussion “unworthy of a democratic country”

No matter the outcome, voting against debate and discussion is unbecoming of a democracy. This was Andrew Coyne’s view in a column dated April 27, 2012. “Woodworth’s approach, while wide of the mark,” he wrote, “is at least an attempt to break through the taboo on debating abortion. It is further indication — the furor over sex-selective abortion is another — that the issue is far from settled in the public mind. The pretense that it is, like the contradictory but often simultaneously advanced claim that it is too “divisive,” is unworthy of a democratic country.”

Unlikely bedfellows

M-312 is controversial, mainly when talking to the most extreme fringe of the pro-choice camp—and the Prime Minister’s Office. Prime Minister Harper’s positioning on this motion lands him on a team with people who neither support his general direction for Canada, nor trust him on the issue of abortion. Needless to say, this is not a vote-winning proposition come the next election.

Furthermore, if Gordon O’Connor is correct and Parliament is not a place to discuss abortion, it is in direct contradiction to the Supreme Court of Canada. In the R v Morgentaler decision, Supreme Court of Canada Justice Bertha Wilson wrote:

The precise point in the development of the foetus at which the state’s interest in its protection becomes “compelling” I leave to the informed judgment of the legislature, which is in a position to receive guidance on the subject from all the relevant disciplines.

The Prime Minister has clearly stated on several occasions that he has no intention of opening up the abortion debate. Fair enough. But the debate has been underway both in the public square and the halls of the House of Commons for some time. Our elected officials refuse to follow the will of the people.

Parliamentarians have supported more controversial bills in the past

As such, M-312 offers an opportunity for Canada to nurture freedom of speech by engaging in meaningful dialogue on topics of importance and to do so in the non-coercive framework of a motion. By contrast, MP Rod Bruinooge’s Bill C-510, which aimed to change the criminal code to make coerced abortion a crime (Roxanne’s Law), was likely more inflammatory for the fact that it explicitly referenced abortion, and that in the context of a bill, not a motion. Still, fully 87 of our current parliamentarians voted in favour of it.

A mere 40 years ago, Mr. O’Connor’s speech with regards to M-312 might have elicited laughter for the suggestion that the House of Commons cannot receive information from various jurisdictions, resulting in a debate. Today, with the continuing decline in both parliamentary decency and democracy, these false notions are the talking points of our Prime Minister. Parliament is indeed a place to discuss and debate ideas, and many Canadians still believe this, in spite of current norms. M-312 gives all Parliamentarians the opportunity to align themselves with the nurturing of free speech in Canada today, while making no comment at all about abortion.

If free speech is denied on this issue, which issue will be next?

Dave Quist is Executive Director of the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada. Andrea Mrozek is Manager of Research and Communications at the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada. This op-ed is republished with permission.

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Bill 13 committee multiplies problems in anti-bullying legislation

by Albertos Polizogopoulos Tue Jun 05 12:11 EST Comments (6)


June 5, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Today, Queen’s Park will hold the third and final vote on Bill 13, the Accepting Schools Act. And thanks to last week’s efforts by the Committee tasked with reviewing and amending it, the already controversial bill is now even more divisive and constitutionally unstable.

The Standing Committee on Social Policy, which was tasked with studying Bill 13 and Bill 14, held public hearings and heard from approximately 85 delegations, of which I was one. I appeared on behalf of the Coalition for Parental Rights in Education.

During my presentation, and through my written submissions, I pointed to several sections of Bill 13 which were constitutionally problematic and would likely lead to constitutional challenges, resulting in years of taxpayer funded litigation. I recommended a series of amendments to Bill 13 which would have maintained Bill 13’s stated goal of bullying prevention, while eliminating many of its constitutional vulnerabilities.

Most controversial in Bill 13 has been the special status and preferential treatment it provides to those who identify as LGBTTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, transsexual, two-spirited, intersexed, queer and questioning). Despite two Canadian studies showing that the top reasons for bullying are body image; grades or marks; cultural or ethnic background; and language, Bill 13 singles out the LGBTTIQ community and ignores those children who are most frequently victimized.

I proposed removing this reference, thereby making Bill 13 more inclusive and equally protective of all students. I further suggested that the term “homophobia”, which is used in Bill 13 on three occasions, is problematic as it is loaded, controversial and has yet to be defined in law. With that recommendation, the Committee left the term “homophobia” and added the equally undefined terms “transphobia” and “biphobia” to Bill 13. Thank you, learned Committee, that makes things less confusing.

The controversial sections of Bill 13 have not been amended by the Committee in a manner that makes Bill 13 more inclusive. Rather, the latest version of the bill will create more division and presents additional constitutional challenges. For example, in its original form, Bill 13 required all schools to assist students in establishing clubs to promote awareness of people of different sexual orientations with the name ‘Gay-Straight Alliances’ or another name of its choosing. The Committee has amended the bill, which now requires all schools, including Catholic schools, to use the name ‘Gay-Straight Alliances’ for its clubs.

People of faith in Ontario are in for long, drawn-out and expensive legal battles. I predict that the litigation will begin with the issue of mandatory GSAs in Catholic schools and progress to a challenge of the separate school system itself.

While constitutional law, in my opinion, does not permit the provincial government to force Catholic schools to violate their sincerely held beliefs and teachings, the reality is that a number of administrators within the Catholic school system have already embraced the idea of GSAs. It will, I believe, be difficult to stop the implementation process once it starts.

I would hope that if Bill 13 is proclaimed as law before the Legislature breaks for summer, that a legal challenge of the new sections of the Education Act be engaged before the beginning of the new school year in September. To nip this in the bud is, I believe, the only way to ensure that the religious integrity and autonomy of the Catholic school system remains unscathed.

Albertos Polizogopoulos is a lawyer specializing in constitutional litigation. He practices with Vincent Dagenais Gibson LLP/s.r.l. in Ottawa, Ontario.

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