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A proposed bill in Connecticut could force public schools to teach homosexuality as normal.
BY Sue Ellin BrowderREGISTER CORRESPONDENT
HARTFORD, Conn. — A proposed bill in
Connecticut could force public schools to teach homosexuality as normal.
The bill would bring state law into
conformity with a same-sex “marriage” court ruling issued last year and clarify
the status of civil unions.
But critics of the bill say it goes
beyond legislative housekeeping and would repeal another state law that protects
public policy on a wide range of moral issues.
S.B. 899, “An Act Implementing the
Guarantee of Equal Protection Under the Constitution of the State for Same-Sex
Couples,” would remove references in marriage law to a man and a woman and
redefine marriage as “the legal union of two persons.”
“Our big concern is that unless this
bill is amended it could lead to a mandate to teach same-sex ‘marriage’ in the
schools,” said Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute of
Said Anne Stanback, executive
director of the homosexual activist group Love Makes a Family, “I’m not sure
where the basis for that concern is coming from, given that this bill has
nothing to do with our state’s education curriculum. That said, same-sex
couples live in every town in our state, and many of them have children in the
schools. Those families must be embraced and included just like every family.
Fortunately, the majority of Connecticut schools already do that.”
A second major concern is “how this
bill will affect our Catholic organizations, such as Catholic Charities,” said
Deacon David Reynolds, legislative liaison for the Connecticut Catholic
Conference, the public and advocacy office of the Catholic bishops in
In Massachusetts, after the high
court declared that allowing only heterosexual couples to marry is
unconstitutional, the state required all adoption agencies — including Catholic
Charities — to let same-sex couples adopt.
This collision of state policy with Church teaching led the Archdiocese
of Boston to close down its adoption program.
“Massachusetts is Exhibit A for why
same-sex ‘marriage’ is bad for children, families and churches,” Wolfgang said.
”If this bill passes, it looks like Connecticut will very quickly be Exhibit B.”
“Unfortunately, the Supreme Court
acted as a legislature, and four justices imposed their idea of what the public
policy in law ought to be in Connecticut,” said Republican legislator T. R.
Rowe, a Judiciary Committee member. “That has made their allies in the
Legislature, of whom there are many, emboldened to carry this agenda even
Meanwhile, as a California court was
to hear oral arguments March 5 on that state’s 2008 referendum effectively
banning same-sex “marriage,” a bill has been introduced to legalize such
unions. And Hawaii is now considering a civil union law.
Thomas More Law Center attorney
Robert Muise, who has legally battled same-sex “marriage” in Massachusetts, had
not seen S.B. 899, but explained that the Connecticut Supreme Court’s ruling is
already the law of the land. Codifying the court’s ruling at this point, Muise
said, “is like ‘Okay, so what?’ That’s maybe like belt and suspenders. The
devil is in the details.”
Wolfgang said, the Family Institute
is concerned about what is in the bill and what is not. Its most controversial
clause — Section 17 — would repeal a 1991 statute which declares that nothing
in Connecticut law can be interpreted to mean that the state condones
homosexuality or requires schools to teach and promote homosexuality or
bisexuality as an acceptable lifestyle.
Judiciary Committee cochairman Mike
Lawlor, D-East Haven, an advocate of the bill and a vocal supporter of same-sex
“marriage,” said Section 17 simply repeals a 1991 statute passed in connection
with a law that prevented sexual discrimination in employment and housing.
“There was concern then that [the
1991 statute] would be used as an argument to create same-sex ‘marriage,’”
Now that same-sex “marriage” has
been declared constitutional by the state’s highest court, Lawlor called the
1991 statute being repealed by Section 17 “archaic.”
Asked if there was room for
compromise on the measure, Lawlor replied, “Every bill is negotiable.”
But Wolfgang said, “Allowing Section
17 as it now reads to pass into law could be interpreted by the courts to mean
the state does require schools to promote and teach
homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle.”
Noticeably missing is any language
to strengthen religious liberty and right-of-conscience protections. The new
bill exempts clergy from having to perform same-sex “marriage” ceremonies. But justices of the peace must perform
“Given the radical nature of this
same-sex ‘marriage’ bill,” Wolfgang said, “further attacks on liberty and
conscience are likely.”
Rowe said the bill will come before
the committee “sometime in March.”
If the committee decides to raise
the bill — and Rowe thinks “the votes are there to get it through in
essentially the form that it’s in now” — public hearings will then be
Deacon Reynolds of the Connecticut
Catholic Conference noted that the two chairmen of the Judiciary Committee are
homosexuals. “So they’re very favorable toward the court’s ruling and very
favorable toward this legislation,” he said.
Wolfgang believed the public will be
given short notice of the hearings — and very little time to respond.
Parental Rights Threat?
Those concerned that the Kerrigan
v. Commissioner of Public Health decision and S.B. 899 will change
what’s taught to Connecticut’s public school children are not overreacting —
and are right to be worried, said Vince McCarthy, senior counsel with the
D.C.-based American Center for Law and Justice.
“Materials now being distributed by
Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) would force children in
schools to learn that people who believe heterosexual conduct is morally
superior to homosexual conduct suffer from a form of mental illness called
‘heterosexism,’” McCarthy said. “I have 50 pages of materials right here in
front of me which teach that the religion kids have always learned growing up
if they were Christian is all wrong, that Sodom and Gomorrah didn’t exactly
happen the way the Bible says it did.”
Some of these materials — which
McCarthy said “clearly teach religion” (because they argue over the
interpretation of Sodom and Gomorrah) and, therefore, appear to violate the
establishment clause — have come into Connecticut through the Massachusetts
Department of Education.
Despite state laws to the contrary,
Massachusetts courts have held that parents can no longer opt their children
out of “diversity” education. Gone is old-fashioned sex education, which once
drew intense parental fire. Now health classes, under the guise of “safety
education,” teach children how to make various sexual perversions “safe.”
“In Massachusetts, it’s basically
‘game over’ for parents’ rights,” said Lisa Barstow, media spokeswoman for the
Woburn-based Massachusetts Family Institute.
Boston mother and teacher Megan
Reilly, a Catholic, chose not to teach in Massachusetts public schools because
“I wanted to be able to mention God without a lawsuit threatened against me.”
Sadly, with families struggling to
keep afloat in these tough economic times, Barstow observed, many parents are
too distracted to think about parental rights in schools.
have to be vigilant against this stuff,” Reilly said. “Our rights as parents
are being taken away in Massachusetts, and that’s exactly what will happen in
Connecticut — if people don’t stay on guard.”
his 1981 apostolic exhortation on the family, Familiaris Consortio, Pope John Paul II said, “Families should grow in awareness of being
‘protagonists’ of what is known as ‘family politics’ and assume responsibility
for transforming society; otherwise, families will be the first victims of the
evils that they have done no more than note with indifference.”
Sue Ellin Browder is
based in Willits, California.