By Kathleen Gilbert

HARTFORD, April 20, 2009 ( – In a letter issued Friday, Archbishop Henry Mansell of Hartford urged Connecticut’s Catholic parishioners to contact state senators and representatives to vote against a bill that, according to the bishop and other critics, poses a dire threat to free speech. (For contact info for all legislators, see:

“We need you to speak out again. We’re facing another attack on our religious liberty. It is very serious and has to be stopped now,” wrote Archbishop Mansell.

Bill 899 is a piece of legislation that would codify the state supreme court’s decision to legalize same-sex “marriage.”  The Archbishop warns that the bill, which the Judiciary Committee recently sent to the Senate, as written “does not protect the First Amendment religious freedom of individuals, religious organizations, and related societies.”

Mansell warns that the danger of the bill is imminent, despite the fact that it exempts religious clergy from having to officiate at same-sex “weddings” – a fact that he says legislators are likely to point out to concerned Christians and free-speech advocates who contact them.

Nonetheless, said the archbishop, “this bill does not guarantee the First Amendment rights of clergy, religious, and laity to practice their faith and operate their programs and services in accordance with their sincerely-held religious beliefs.”

“Because Bill 899 fails to provide full conscience protection, individuals and religious groups, particularly those that provide social and educational services, would be subject to civil harassment in the form of lawsuits,” he continued.  “The State of Connecticut could try to coerce religious groups by giving grants, contracts, and licenses only to organizations that recognize and support same-sex marriage.”

Mansell pointed out cases of harassment in other jurisdictions where same-sex “marriage” is recognized.  For example, in Massachusetts, the adoption services of Boston Archdiocese’s Catholic Charities were shut down because the organization refused to give children to same-sex couples.  The archbishop also noted the 2005 fine levied against the Knights of Columbus in Canada when they declined to rent out a hall for the “wedding” ceremony of a lesbian couple.

The archbishop pointed out that the bill also repeals the current provision in Connecticut law that guards against the introduction of homosexualist curricula in public schools.

For contact info for all CT legislators, see:

See related coverage:

Connecticut’s Same-Sex “Marriage” Bill Would Deny Conscience Rights


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