Hilary White

Estonian same-sex partnership stalled after family campaigners presented 38,000 signatures

Hilary White
Hilary White
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TALLINN, June 10, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The founder of Estonia’s pro-family movement said in an interview with a Polish Catholic television program that the country’s draft law on same-sex marriage will not go forward after his group presented the government with nearly 40,000 signatures defending traditional marriage. Law professor Varro Vooglaid told Polonia Christiana that presentation of the petition from the Estonian Foundation for Defense of Tradition and Family will not allow the homosexualist ideologues to frame the issue in terms of “human rights”.

Last month, the group presented a petition of 38,000 signatures to Estonia’s parliament to oppose all plans that may be put forward to re-define marriage to include same-sex partnerings. This, Vooglaid said, has shown the homosexualist lobby that there is going to be serious and organised opposition to their plans. The petition form was delivered to 580,000 households, in a country with a total population of 1.2 million. 

Vooglaid called the petition, the largest in the country’s history since emancipation from the Soviet Union, an “historic event in Estonian politics”. Homosexualists had become used to having the only voice heard in public, but now, he said, “We have really managed to change the rules of the game.” 

Vooglaid said that the government has indicated it will not at this time be moving forward with the draft law. 

The homosexualist movement, he said, must portray themselves as champions of “human rights,” since their ideology has little support among the public and they know that they will never be successful using the democratic process.

Instead, they “frame it as a human rights issue, and say that human rights need to be recognised. And it’s not up to the people to choose whether we recognise human rights or not”. 

He told Estonia’s parliamentarians, “We can’t allow them to define this as a human rights issue. Our constitution guarantees equality before the law. Absolutely every single person in the republic of Estonia has the right to marry and to found a family. Everyone without an exception. 

“However, nobody has the right to demand the redefinition of the institution of the family and the institution of marriage, so as to get social recognition of their perverted lifestyle.” 

The issue has been under scrutiny since 2011 when the Chancellor of Justice, Indrek Teder, requested that the Ministry of Justice introduce a civil partnership law. He said that examination of the constitution had found that the law could not exclude recognition of same-sex relationships. In August last year, the Reform Party and the Social democratic Party as well as the Centre Party helped to draft a bill to create same-sex civil partnerships, which was under consultation until October 2012. 

The homosexualists, said Vooglaid, have fired back with attempts to intimidate their opposition. The petitioners’ employers received “very strongly worded letters” asking for Vooglaid and fellow members of the Foundation to be sacked or otherwise disciplined. Complaints were also made to the consumer protection board and even to police, accusing the group of “hate crimes.” 

Vooglaid, however, said that such actions really only prove the point being made in their campaign. “We said that if they manage to apply their ideology to our society, teachers will lose their jobs unless they approve the homosexual agenda. And they of course say that we are lying,” he said. 

“But by their very actions, they are confirming that we are absolutely correct. And of course we know from different countries all over Europe that’s exactly what’s happening.” 

Vooglaid, a lawyer and professor of law at the country’s national university, told police that they could press charges of hate speech, but that there was no legal basis for prosecution and that the subsequent public proceedings would only reveal the real goals and methods of the homosexualist lobby. 

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“It will make it even more clear that these are not just very nice people who are looking for more tolerance, but they are really radical fundamentalists who are ready to advance their goals by taking away the most basic rights from other citizens. Freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom of belief.” 

Part of the difficulty in many western countries, he said, has been the media’s siding with the homosexualist ideology. This has denied a voice to the majority of the public. While the media portrays the issue as one of human rights or equality, “for normal people, real people, life is very different. For them, their views are very different.”

“If you look at public opinion, if you look at public discussion, then the opinion of tens of thousands of people is almost never represented. It’s just a handful of people who get to express their ideas. And thereby they [the media] develop a completely twisted understanding of public opinion.” 

The petition, however, has put the lie to the media myth, showing “the people in power,” as well as the public at large that there are “actually tens of thousands of people who value family … and who think that family and marriage may not be redefined.” 

Moreover, the movement to preserve the natural family in law comes from the real grassroots, Vooglaid said. Homosexual activists are supported by very few on the ground. These groups, he said, call themselves citizens’ organisations, NGOs, “but the reality is that almost nobody supports them. No simple people support them with small donations.” 

The most influential of the groups pushing for same-sex recognition in Estonia is the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association or ILGA, which is heavily supported by both the UN and the European Union. While ILGA Europe claims to be a grassroots NGO, they receive the bulk of their funding directly from grants from the European Commission. According to information IGLA made public, in 2012 they received a grant of €1,017,055 from the EU. The rest of their €1.95 million budget came from grants from the government of the Netherlands, George Soros’ Open Society Institute (OSI) and the Sigrid Rausing Trust, a UK organisation with similar goals. 

Vooglaid also pointed to the direct intervention of other western countries, saying that three days after the petition was delivered to Estonia’s parliament, the embassies of the US, Canada, Britain and Austria hung the facades of their buildings in the capital Tallinn with rainbow flags as a public signal of their support for the homosexual agenda. 

He said the action demonstrates that the homosexualist movement is really a form of “ideological occupation”. 

“It’s not something that’s growing out of our own culture, out of our own people. It’s something that is being imposed on us. And we are not even left the possibility to have a say about it. We can’t choose whether to accept it or not to accept it,” he said.   

“What they’re actually interested in is not the right to marry, it’s not about equal rights, it’s not about tolerance. It’s actually about social recognition of the homosexual lifestyle. Recognition from the state that the homosexual lifestyle is just as good as living a family life, and thereby redefining the cultural understanding of morality.” 

He said that his group will continue to oppose the agenda: “We will do it very calmly. We will do it with great dignity, and with great respect for persons. But being tolerant and being respectful definitely do not mean that we need to give up our principles.” 

“Let us understand that being tolerant is not about conformity. It’s not about giving up the principles that were passed to us by our forefathers, which have been at the foundation of our culture for hundreds of years. 

“This is not tolerance. And if that’s the idea of tolerance, then we will be very happy to be intolerant.” 

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Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received more than $400 million in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

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If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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