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Gay activists fear the true public voice: an Italian family leader on Croatia’s marriage referendum

LifeSiteNews.com
By LifeSiteNews.com

Editor’s Note: Longtime Catholic family activist Francesco Belletti, who serves as a consultant to the Pontifical Council for the Family, spoke with Vatican Radio Dec. 2nd on the implications for Italy and other countries of the Dec. 1st referendum on marriage in Croatia. Belletti holds a Masters in political science from the University of Milan and has worked since the early 1980s with an array of Italian non-profit groups defending life and family. Since 2009, he has served as national president of the Forum of Family Associations.

Croatia has said “no” to gay marriage. The referendum, that was opposed by the government, stipulated that marriage must be defined in the Constitution as the exclusive union between a man and a woman.

65.77% of the voters said yes to the exclusive definition of heterosexual marriage, against 33.62% of “no”.

Low voter turnout: 38% of the approximately 3.8 million of those entitled to vote. This does not invalidate the referendum, which in Croatia does not require a minimum of participation.

The amendment to the Constitution aligns the Croatian referendum with Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria, the five EU countries that already have an exclusively heterosexual definition of marriage according to their constitutions.

Vatican Radio: Why are the proponents of gay marriage afraid of the use of referendums on issues that affect the social life of a country and the personal lives of citizens?

Francesco Belletti: This referendum shows that the popular feeling, that the attitude of individuals with regard to the theme of marriage and the identity of the family is very cautious, very careful to keep a history and a tradition that is thousands of years of sexual identity, male and female, the responsibilities of parents towards their children.

[The referendum is] the confirmation that some positions, say, asking for extreme assimilation, marriage for gay people, is against the common sentiment, the popular wisdom. Such interventions are, let us say, elitist, which in the media world, the world of politics, manages to have a lot more say than I have with the common people.

VR: Indeed, in Croatia, in addition to center-left parties, other academics and a large part of the press said they were opposed to this consultation.

FB: Look, here is the intellectual short circuit. In my opinion, these ideological positions fail to mark the difference between the respect which is due to every person and thus with regards to sexual orientation to individuals who are homosexual or heterosexual - and this is always guaranteed! - and the idea that this creates an automatic recognition of the family and of marriage as possible [for homosexuals].

Instead, the Croatian people said: “Marriage and the family have a very precise meaning, built in our history, about the love between a man and a woman and openness to life. This we want to defend!” This is not a homophobic attitude, it intends no injury to the dignity of the person, but this distinction; the defense of the meaning of the word “family” is always about sexual difference. Luckily the people are still unable to distinguish.

VR: Croatia now becomes the sixth country in Europe - along with Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria - which will have a constitutional definition of marriage that is exclusively heterosexual. So, is this the right way to avoid interventions “imposed” from above?

FB: It’s a way that’s possible, which is becoming more important than we thought a few decades ago. In fact in our [Italian] Constitution was not written so that marriage is founded on sexual difference, because it was so objectively and was recognized as such by all, so there was no need. Today it seems that there is a need! And [this is] one of the ways to legally defend what is a natural truth, which belongs to common sense. Our Constitution spoke of the family as a natural society founded on marriage, and it was automatically understood that this would also be between a man and a woman. And now we need to add, to defend it in legal language, probably even in the legislation.

VR: Can the result of the referendum in Croatia also encourage other countries to request consultations on these issues that are so important?

FB: Look, I expect, from now on, a rain of criticism, accusations of obscurantism leveled at the Croats saying they are not a modern people ... There will be a great debate. And I fear that the various European parliaments and the various Courts of Justice will be very aggressive with respect to this choice. Thank goodness our Europe is based on the principle of subsidiarity: family policies and family is the theme for the individual countries. So, the example of this consultation is an example that gives comfort.

When people are able to express themselves, to talk, to say what they really believe about such foundational human issues, then the truth comes out clearer than it is out in the “ambushing” by amendments to the laws or debates in the aulas of many national parliaments, regional or municipal governments or even at the European level. Thus, there is a problem of active citizenship: the people who believe in the value of the family must be heard!

This interview is republished with permission. Read the transcript of the original interview in Italian here.

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Newsbusters Staff

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Disney ABC embraces X-rated anti-Christian bigot Dan Savage in new prime time show

Newsbusters Staff
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March 30, 2015 (NewsBusters.org) -- Media Research Center (MRC) and Family Research Council (FRC) are launching a joint national campaign to educate the public about a Disney ABC sitcom pilot based on the life of bigoted activist Dan Savage. MRC and FRC contacted Ben Sherwood, president of Disney/ABC Television Group, more than two weeks ago urging him to put a stop to this atrocity but received no response. [Read the full letter]

A perusal of Dan Savage’s work reveals a career built on advocating violence — even murder — and spewing hatred against people of faith. Savage has spared no one with whom he disagrees from his vitriolic hate speech. Despite his extremism, vulgarity, and unabashed encouragement of dangerous sexual practices, Disney ABC is moving forward with this show, disgustingly titled “Family of the Year.”

Media Research Center President Brent Bozell reacts:

“Disney ABC’s decision to effectively advance Dan Savage’s calls for violence against conservatives and his extremist attacks against people of faith, particularly evangelicals and Catholics, is appalling and outrageous. If hate speech were a crime, this man would be charged with a felony. Disney ABC giving Dan Savage a platform for his anti-religious bigotry is mind-boggling and their silence is deafening.

“By creating a pilot based on the life of this hatemonger and bringing him on as a producer, Disney ABC is sending a signal that they endorse Dan Savage’s wish that a man be murdered. He has stated, ‘Carl Romanelli should be dragged behind a pickup truck until there’s nothing left but the rope.’ ABC knows this. We told them explicitly.

“If the production of ‘Family of the Year’ is allowed to continue, not just Christians but all people of goodwill can only surmise that the company Walt Disney created is endorsing violence.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins reacts:

“Does ABC really want to produce a pilot show based on a vile bully like Dan Savage?  Do Dan Savage’s over-the top-obscenity, intimidation of teenagers and even violent rhetoric reflect the values of Disney?  Partnering with Dan Savage and endorsing his x-rated message will be abandoning the wholesome values that have attracted millions of families to Walt Disney.”

Dan Savage has made numerous comments about conservatives, evangelicals, and Catholics that offend basic standards of decency. They include:

  • Proclaiming that he sometimes thinks about “f****ing the shit out of” Senator Rick Santorum

  • Calling for Christians at a high school conference to “ignore the bull**** in the Bible”

  • Saying that “the only thing that stands between my d*** and Brad Pitt’s mouth is a piece of paper” when expressing his feelings on Pope Benedict’s opposition to gay marriage

  • Promoting marital infidelity

  • Saying “Carl Romanelli should be dragged behind a pickup truck until there’s nothing left but the rope.”

  • Telling Bill Maher that he wished Republicans “were all f***ing dead”

  • Telling Dr. Ben Carson to “suck my d***. Name the time and place and I’ll bring my d*** and a camera crew and you can s*** me off and win the argument.”

Reprinted with permission from Newsbusters

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Jacqueline Harvey

Ending the end-of-life impasse: Texas is poised to ban doctor-imposed death by starvation

Jacqueline Harvey
By Jacqueline Harvey

AUSTIN, Texas, March 30, 2015 (TexasInsider.org)  After five consecutive sessions of bitter battles over end-of-life bills, the Texas Legislature is finally poised to pass the first reform to the Texas Advance Directives Act (TADA) in 12 years. An issue that created uncanny adversaries out of natural allies, and equally odd bedfellows, has finally found common ground in H.B. 3074 by State Rep. Drew Springer.  

H.B. 3074 simply prohibits doctor-imposed euthanasia by starvation and dehydration.

Since H.B. 3074 includes only those provisions and language that all major organizations are on record as having deemed acceptable in previous legislative sessions, there is finally hope of ending the end-of-life impasse in the Texas Capitol.

Many would be surprised to learn that Texas law allows physicians to forcibly remove a feeding tube against the will of the patient and their family. In fact, there is a greater legal penalty for failing to feed or water an animal than for a hospital to deny a human being food and water through a tube.

This is because there is no penalty whatsoever for a healthcare provider who wishes to deny artificially-administered nutrition and hydration (AANH). According to Texas Health and Safety Code, “every living dumb creature” is legally entitled access to suitable food and water.

Denying an animal food and water, like in this January case in San Antonio, is punishable by civil fines up to $10,000 and criminal penalties up to two years in jail per offense. Yet Texas law allows health care providers to forcibly deny food and water from human beings – what they would not be able to legally do to their housecat. And healthcare providers are immune from civil and criminal penalties for denial of food and water to human beings as long as they follow the current statutory process which is sorely lacking in safeguards.

Therefore, while it is surprising that Texas has the only state law that explicitly mentions food and water delivered artificially for the purpose of completely permitting its forced denial (the other six states mention AANH explicitly for the opposite purpose, to limit or prohibit its refusal), it is not at all surprising that the issue of protecting a patient’s right to food and water is perhaps the one point of consensus across all major stakeholders.

H.B. 3074 is the first TADA reform bill to include only this provision that is agreed upon across all major players in previous legislative sessions.

There are irreconcilable ideological differences between two major right-to-life organizations that should supposedly be like-minded: Texas Alliance for Life and Texas Right to Life. Each faction (along with their respective allies) have previously sponsored broad and ambitious bills to either preserve but reform the current law (Texas Alliance for Life’s position) or overturn it altogether as Texas Right to Life aims to do.

Prior to H.B. 3074, bills filed by major advocacy organizations have often included AANH, but also a host of other provisions that were so contentious and unacceptable to other organizations that each bill ultimately died, and this mutually-agreed-upon and vital reform always died along with it.

2011 & 2013 Legislative Sessions present prime example

This 2011 media report shows the clear consensus on need for legislation to simply address the need to protect patients’ rights to food and water:

“Hughes [bill sponsor for Texas Right to Life] has widespread support for one of his bill’s goals: making food and water a necessary part of treatment and not something that can be discontinued, unless providing it would harm the patient.”

Nonetheless, in 2013, both organizations and their allies filed complicated, contentious opposing bills, both of which would have protected a patient’s right to food and water but each bill also included provisions the rival group saw as contrary to their goals. Both bills were ultimately defeated and neither group was able to achieve protections for patients at risk of forced starvation and dehydration – a mutual goal that could have been met through a third, narrow bill like H.B. 3074.

H.B. 3074 finally focuses on what unites the organizations involved rather than what divides them, since these differences have resulted in a 12 year standoff with no progress whatsoever.

H.B. 3074 is progress that is pre-negotiated and pre-approved.

It is not a fertile springboard for negotiations on an area of mutual agreement. Rather it is the culmination of years of previous negotiations on bills that all came too late, either due to the complexnature of rival bills, the controversy involved, or even both.

On the contrary, H.B. 3074 is not just simply an area of agreement; moreover, it is has already been negotiated. It should not be stymied by disagreements on language, since Texas Alliance for Life and Texas Right to Life (along with their allies) were able to agree on language in 2007 with C.S.S.B. 439. C.S.S.B. 439 reads that, unlike the status quo that places no legal conditions on when food and water may be withdrawn, it would be permitted for those in a terminal condition if,

“reasonable medical evidence indicates the provision of artificial nutrition and hydration may hasten the patient’s death or seriously exacerbate other major medical problems and the risk of serious medical pain or discomfort that cannot be alleviated based on reasonable medical judgment outweighs the benefit of continued artificial nutrition and hydration.”

This language is strikingly similar to H.B. 3074 which states, “except that artificially administered nutrition and hydration must be provided unless, based on reasonable medical judgment, providingartificially administered nutrition and hydration would:

  1. Hasten the patient’s death;
  2. Seriously exacerbate other major medical problems not outweighed by the benefit of the provision of the treatment;
  3. Result in substantial irremediable physical pain, suffering, or discomfort not outweighed by the benefit of the provision of the treatment;
  4. Be medically ineffective; or
  5. Be contrary to the patient’s clearly stated desire not to receive artificially administered nutrition or hydration.”

With minimal exceptions (the explicit mention of the word terminal, the issue of medical effectiveness and the patient’s right to refuse), the language is virtually identical, and in 2007 Texas Right to Life affirmed this language as clarifying that “ANH can only be withdrawn if the risk of providing ANH is greater than the benefit of continuing it.”

Texas Right to Life would support the language in H.B. 3074 that already has Texas Alliance for Life’s endorsement. Any reconciliation on the minor differences in language would therefore be minimal and could be made by either side, but ultimately, both sides and their allies would gain a huge victory – the first victory in 12 years on this vital issue.

It seems that the Texas Advance Directive Act, even among its sympathizers, has something for everyone to oppose.

The passage of H.B. 3074 and the legal restoration of rights to feeding tubes for Texas patients will not begin to satisfy critics of the Texas Advance Directives Act who desire much greater changes to the law and will assuredly continue to pursue them. H.B. 3074 in no way marks the end for healthcare reform, but perhaps a shift from the belief that anything short of sweeping changes is an endorsement of the status quo.

Rather, we can look at H.B. 3074 as breaking a barrier and indicating larger changes are possible.

And if nothing else, by passing H.B. 3074 introduced by State Rep. Drew Springer, we afford human beings in Texas the same legal access to food and water that we give to our horses. What is cruel to do to an animal remains legal to do to humans in Texas if organizations continue to insist on the whole of their agenda rather than agreeing to smaller bills like H.B. 3074.

The question is, can twelve years of bad blood and bickering be set aside for even this most noble of causes?

Reprinted from TexasInsider.org with the author's permission. 

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By John-Henry Westen

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