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Connecticut Democrats are in full retreat as public gets wind of proposed bill—thousands descend on Capitol to protest
Thousands of protesters took to the Capitol building today to protest the legislature’s blatant attempt to take over the Catholic Church in CT. Many see this action by the Connecticut legislature as payback for the Catholic Church’s staunch support of marriage.
“Bishop Lori is correct to say that the bill ‘is a thinly-veiled attempt to silence the Catholic Church on the important issues of the day, such as same-sex marriage,’ ” “Indeed, it is payback: this brutal act of revenge by Lawlor and McDonald, two champions of gay marriage, is designed to muzzle the voice of the Catholic Church.” –Bill Donohue
In an attempt to circumvent the gathering protest, Judiciary Committee Co-Chairs Rep. Michael Lawlor and Sen. Andrew McDonald abruptly cancelled the public hearing on R.B. 1098, the bill targeting the Catholic Church. That the other members of the Committee were not consulted about the cancellation highlights the hypocrisy of Lawlor and McDonald, given their claim that R.B. 1098 was about transparency and accountability.
“Republicans appeared shoulder to shoulder at a press conference today to denounce the proposal and to offer a free hearing room for those eager to testify – after Judiciary Chairmen State Rep. Mike Lawlor, D-East Haven and State Sen. Andrew McDondald, D-Stamford, pulled the bill. Few can remember when a committee bill had been withdrawn for public comments 24 hours before a hearing.” –Chris Healy from everydayrepublican
Regardless of the committee’s shady attempt to keep the bill under wraps, thousands took the day off work and showed up anyway, flooding the grounds and making their voices heard.
Hooray for the Citizens of Connecticut for calling their Legislature to account! I heard their offices were flooded with calls and emails the last day or so. Just proof that we need to keep a close eye on those in power. This is a dangerous game being played and we are the ones with everything to lose.
See this interview of Brian Brown of NOM by Kathryn Lopez:
After a victory in California, retribution in Connecticut.
By Kathryn Jean Lopez
Last week in Connecticut, two state legislators introduced a bill that would, in the words of Archbishop Henry Mansell of Hartford, “force a radical reorganization of the legal, financial, and administrative structure of [Catholic] parishes” in Connecticut. The bill is believed to be an act of political retribution for the Catholic church’s opposition to gay marriage.
Brian Brown is executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, the largest single donor to Proposition 8 in California, whose mission is “protecting marriage and the faith communities that sustain it.” He talked to National Review Online editor Kathryn Jean Lopez about the Connecticut confrontation and the ongoing Proposition 8 campaign in California.
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: What does Connecticut think it’s doing? Does it have jurisdiction to control the Catholic church’s internal governance, as Raised Bill 1098 proposes?
BRIAN BROWN: Basically, the government would forcibly transfer control of assets, now under the control of Catholic bishops, to a governing body of the government’s choice, misusing corporation law pertaining to religious institution for this purpose. As Bishop Lori put it in his statement: “Sen. Andrew McDonald of Stamford and Rep. Michael Lawlor of East Haven introduced a bill that directly attacks the Roman Catholic church and our faith.”
I’m not a religious-liberty lawyer, but the legal experts I’ve spoken with suggest the bill is definitely on shaky ground, constitutionally. Sure, it’s facially neutral, but it’s also narrowly tailored so it affects only one church — the Catholic church. There’s a long history of anti-Catholicism in northeastern states, and some of the forces behind this bill have made it very publicly clear they don’t really care for the Catholic church. (Connecticut is my old stomping grounds. I started up the Family Institute of Connecticut before helping Maggie Gallagher and Robby George found the National Organization for Marriage, so I know the players.)
LOPEZ: What is most outrageous about the bill?
BROWN: It’s hard to choose: Is it the open anti-Catholicism or the rank politics of retribution? A couple of powerful state politicians are sending a warning message to a religious group: If you take positions we dislike, we will hurt you. It’s a shot across the bow, a way for politicians to try to manage the political process so that selected religious groups and people are frightened into silence.
I really think this warning shot is intended for a national audience, not just Connecticut.
LOPEZ: Critics point out that it is allegedly being pushed by same-sex-marriage opponents. Is this really about the gay-marriage debate?
BROWN: It certainly doesn’t pass the smell test. Gay-marriage activists have been very open about going after the LDS church because Mormons donated money and time to Prop 8. This certainly appears to be part of that same strategy, although Michael Lawlor, for one, has been pretty openly contemptuous of the Catholic church for some time — something insiders at Hartford know, but his East Haven constituents may not.
LOPEZ: It’s hard not to flash back to the Proposition 8 debate in California — which is really still going on, isn’t it? There seems to be less debate and more retribution on this issue.
BROWN: I do think we need to be realistic: Unless we find a way to organize lay Catholics and join with other people of faith to protect our liberties, we are going to be a huge target in blue states with a newly resurgent Democrat party — one of whose key base groups, gay-marriage activists, believe they are the civil-rights battle of the century and that opposition to their views is henceforth as illegitimate as racism.
These are not your mama’s liberals. It’s a new ball game.
But I also believe this as passionately: Every crisis is also an opportunity. Appalled as I am, I’m also looking forward to playing some brand new ball.
LOPEZ: Do you have any hope that there can be some civil resolution to this debate that will both be humane and protect marriage?
BROWN: Listen, if 2 to 3 percent of the population, through hard work, good strategy, and smart use of resources can bring us to the brink of overthrowing a basic institution like marriage, imagine what the most committed, say, 25 percent of Christians and others of good will could accomplish.
Americans are good in the end at coming to live-and-let-live solutions. But gay-rights activists aren’t going to just give that to us — we are going to fight for the right not be considered the legal equivalent of racists in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and other blue states. We have to show we can sustain a real movement that’s politically as well as culturally and intellectually relevant — especially in blue states.
LOPEZ: Why should anyone who’s not Catholic in Connecticut or Mormon in California care?
BROWN: All Americans, whatever their political leanings, should care when politicians propose to take out a specific religious group because partisans in one party don’t like its moral stands on important public issues.
I think people should care about marriage, because it’s the one necessary adult relationship — the way we transmit to young men and women that we need them to come together to make and raise the next generation. Listen, I have six kids. I don’t want my government teaching my sons that men aren’t very important to family life, or my daughters that any two adults raising kids are just the same as a mom and a dad.
But to misuse your office to go after a religious group — that really shouldn’t be something that happens in American politics. But it is happening and it’s up to us to figure out a response that makes these partisans regret it.
LOPEZ: Will Proposition 8 hold in California?
BROWN: Yes. I was at the oral arguments this week. I came out even more confident than when I went in that judges in California are not prepared to strip from Californians our core civil right to amend our own constitution. We’ll know for sure within 90 days.
LOPEZ: What will happen in Connecticut?
BROWN: The public outrage is palpable. Peter Wolfgang of the Family Institute of Connecticut is doing a great job, as are the Knights of Columbus and many others, in getting the word out. We have some plans of our own in that regard. I suspect these two politicians will quickly backtrack from this particular proposal and look for other, quieter ways to misuse their power to hurt my church and silence potential opponents.