Citizens Rally by the Thousands! Catholic Take-Over Bill Dies a Messy Death In Connecticut

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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 Few can remember when a committee bill had been withdrawn for public comments 24 hours before a hearing.”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.

—Beetle Blogger

See this interview of Brian Brown of NOM by Kathryn Lopez:

Marriage Moment
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?every_child_deserves_a_mom_and_a_dad23

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.



  1. March 11, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    […] here and the update here (the hearing was canceled because thousands […]

  2. March 11, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    […] did the citizens of Connecticut respond?  By turning up at the Capital Building. 4,000 of […]

  3. Delirious said,

    March 11, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    Once again….grass roots efforts preserved our civil rights.

  4. talkinmama said,

    March 12, 2009 at 1:25 am

    this is really one of the MOST frightening things I ‘ve heard yet – politicians openly trying to take over a church by taking control of it’s finances! What really needs to happen is that these types of politicians need to be targetted and voted out of office ASAP.
    There must be something afoot locally, too, because the gay couple around the corner from me has a new yard sign up this week that says:
    “I DO
    support marriage” (for everyone or some similar wording)

  5. March 12, 2009 at 3:16 am

    Thanks for the write up BB. It sounds like these politicians are attempting to steal money from the church. It is amazing to think that some of them actually think they could get away with it. Imagine the reverse happening, Catholic Church attempts to take control of US finances.

  6. Delirious said,

    March 12, 2009 at 11:54 am

    We read this scripture in seminary today. It doesn’t solve the problem of crazed politicians, but it does bring some comfort.

    38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
    39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38,39

  7. beetlebabee said,

    March 12, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    I loved this bit from lifesitenews: Attorney Philip A. Lacovara, a constitutional law expert and Bridgeport diocese Catholic, said that he the bill deeply flawed and questioned how the committee could have entertained the idea in the first place.

    “I find it utterly astonishing that Bill 1098 could be taken seriously enough to warrant a hearing before your Committee,” Lacovara wrote in an open letter to the legislators. “I would find it difficult to use it as a ‘hypothetical’ in one of my constitutional law classes, because even first year law students would have so little difficulty seeing why the bill goes well beyond the powers that the Constitution allows the States to exercise in dealing with organized churches.”

    Lacovara, an attorney of 40 years’ experience wrote: “I cannot recall a single piece of proposed legislation at any level of government that more patently runs afoul of the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment than does this bill.”

  8. Chairm said,

    March 12, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    The SSM campaign keeps proving that the Yes-on-8 side was right during the CA marriage amendment fight.

    Give them enough rope and they will hang their own argumentation.

  9. charleyh said,

    March 12, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    Similar proposals may be coming up in other states. The story hasn’t yet been told about how this legislation was conceived, drafted, and brought to the committee. I know what the two chairmen are claiming, it’s their story and their sticking to it, but it’s bs.

    These guys aren’t stupid. They’re both lawyers, one went to Cornell. This was a brazen ideological play.

  10. beetlebabee said,

    March 12, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    Charleyh, I don’t know if you’ve heard about their attempt to stick it to the Catholic Church in San Francisco, but right after prop 8 passed, all of a sudden they were mysteriously fined millions of dollars in sales tax money on a property there. San Francisco’s move is unprecedented, but they’re still dragging the church to court over it. The LDS church is under formal investigation by the IRS….it’s just more payback. I think it’s a political game they’re playing, trying to intimidate, shame, embarrass, and fine to death all opposition.

    It’s not going to work, but it does provoke them into showing their colors doesn’t it?

  11. charleyh said,

    March 12, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    A liberal in-law who lives in CA is convinced out of state LDSers were instrumental in the Prop 8 win. She makes no mention of the vast majority of black church members who opposed gay marriage. Mostly Obama voters, no doubt.

    There seems to be a coordinated effort underway to undermine churches. We’re told the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church, I don’t think these two-bit politicians will prevail. :)

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