Kathleen Gilbert

Jon Huntsman: Pro-life, pro-gay Mormon, Obama appointee, now GOP 2012 candidate

Kathleen Gilbert
Kathleen Gilbert
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JERSEY CITY, New Jersey, June 21, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Wielding a polished image and an appetite to woo conservatives, former Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr. emerged onto the GOP 2012 scene Tuesday, launching a presidential campaign that is titillating the moderate Republican establishment - but leaving the political right doubtful about a candidate centrist enough to win a post in the Obama administration.

The wealthy, moderate, nominal Mormon candidate sports a far cleaner pro-life record than rival Mitt Romney, who shares a similar background and from whom Huntsman has taken pains to distinguish himself. But Huntsman’s more conservative Republican rivals instantly compared the two after Huntsman was accused of also refusing to sign a pro-life pledge proposed by the Susan B. Anthony List.

Appearing with the Statue of Liberty as his backdrop, a deliberate throwback to Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign launch, Huntsman on Tuesday morning announced that he would add his lot to the growing crowd of GOP presidential contenders. Hunstman took the opportunity to decry the nation’s deficit and unwieldy entitlement costs, but also made a point of dealing gently with his potential rival and former employer, President Obama.

“He and I have a difference of opinion on how to help a country we both love,” he told a crowd of about 100. “But the question each of us wants the voters to answer is who will be the better President; not who’s the better American.”

On right to life issues, Huntsman has made that difference of opinion clear: earlier this month, Hunstman flexed his pro-life credentials at the Faith and Freedom Conference, where he won accolades for his voting history and personal family ethic. The father of seven told the story of his two adopted daughters, one from China and one from India, and insisted that the value of “a child’s life” should always trump politics.

“Although you would not know it in this town, there is something more essential than politics, and that’s life, especially a child’s life,” he said. He added, “As governor of Utah, I supported and signed every pro-life bill that came to my desk,” including parental consent, informed consent, and late-term abortion ban laws.

“I do not believe we should focus only on our economic life to the neglect of human life. That is a trade we should not make,” Huntsman said. “If Republicans ignore life, the deficit we will face is one that is much more destructive. It will be a deficit of the heart and the soul.”

But the candidate’s pro-life image hit a snag this week after Huntsman was caught up in the controversy surrounding a pro-life pledge offered to Republican candidates by the Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List. Mitt Romney had refused to sign the strongly-worded pledge, unlike several other pro-life GOP candidates, who questioned the solidity of Romney’s excuses.

On the same day as Huntsman announced his campaign, Republican candidate Sen. Rick Santorum fired off a parody of one of Hunstman’s campaign ads, featuring footage of a dirt bike rider, to showcase the new candidate’s failure to sign the document. “[Huntsman] hasn’t signed the anti-abortion pledge. Just like Mitt Romney…” reads the ad, which shows the biker careening gracelessly into a sand dune.

However, SBA List had not mentioned Huntsman in last week’s list of those rejecting the pledge, and said they would offer him a chance to sign now that he has announced his campaign. But a spokesperson for Huntsman appears to have already dismissed the pledge, telling CNN in response to the Santorum ad that “people who rely on pledges usually don’t have a record.”

SBA List spokesperson Ciara Matthews told LifeSiteNews.com that a hard copy of the pledge had been sent by overnight mail to Huntsman, who has a week to sign it.

The candidate also faces possible tension among pro-family conservatives: while opposing same-sex “marriage,” Huntsman supports homosexual civil unions and enjoys a reputation as friendly to the gay rights cause.

“I’ve always been in favor of greater equality,” he told Politico in a 2009 interview.

A close friend of Fox News commentator Glenn Beck, Huntsman served as governor of Utah from 2005 to 2009 before he accepted a position as ambassador to China under President Obama.

Some regarded the appointment as an attempt by the administration to keep Hunstman out of the presidential limelight. However, conservative pundits say the former ambassador’s prospects have been vastly inflated by leftist media and excoriated the moderate - who once called Obama’s stimulus bill “not large enough” - for posturing as a right-wing candidate in the mold of Ronald Reagan.

“Reagan certainly wouldn’t have arranged a photo-op with and publicly praised Henry Kissinger just days before announcing his candidacy,” wrote Craig Shirley and Bill Pascoe of the Daily Caller. Politico noted that Fox News was the first major network Tuesday to cut off coverage of Huntsman mid-speech.

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh complained that the rising star of conservative Texas governor Rick Perry has been damaged by too much attention paid to Huntsman, who has been praised by GOP strategists such as former McCain campaign chief John Weaver as a step closer to, in the words of Newsweek, the party’s “forward-thinking moderates.”

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
The Editors

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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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