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Same-sex debate gets U.S. infusion; Religious agencies finance opposition

OTTAWA - Powerful U.S. religious groups are sending money and support to allies in Canada to fight same-sex marriage.

Patrick Korten, vice-president of communications for the Knights of Columbus head office in New Haven, Conn., said no limit has been set on the help his organization is prepared to offer.

"Whatever it takes," he said. "The family is too important."

Mr. Korten said the U.S. headquarters of the Catholic men's group paid $80,782 to print two million postcards being distributed in Catholic churches across Canada.

"It has been extremely enthusiastically received in Catholic parishes all over Canada. As a matter of fact we may have to print some more -- there was a great deal of interest in it. It offers a quick, simple but effective way for Catholics ... to make their feelings about the same-sex marriage bill known to their MPs."

Another opponent of same-sex marriage, Focus on the Family, is also sending support and services worth hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to its Canadian affiliate.

James Dobson, the charismatic founder of Focus on the Family who has been described as one of the most influential Christian figures in the United States, personally waded into the debate two weeks ago in a radio show taped in Colorado Springs, Colo., and transmitted as a paid broadcast to 130 stations in Canada.

"It is clear here in the United States that the American people do not want same-sex marriage. I would hope that Canadians who also do not want same-sex marriage would be encouraged by what has happened down here."

Mr. Dobson also attacked Paul Martin for refusing Cabinet ministers a free vote. "Your Prime Minister, Paul Martin, has recently done things to subvert the will of the people," he said.

Last spring, Focus on the Family Canada ran an ad campaign in newspapers praising the virtues of traditional marriage between a man and a woman. Derek Rogusky, vice-president of family policy for Focus on the Family Canada, said the group spent $800,000 on advertising last year -- well within the $1-million he said the group is allowed to spend on political activities and keep its charitable status.

Canadian registered charities can spend no more than 10% of their budgets on political activity, but the only time interest groups are restricted in what they can spend on lobbying is during elections and referendums.

Focus on the Family Canada is about to launch a new ad campaign but Mr. Rogusky said this one will likely cost less.

Focus on the Family Canada has also put a Marriage Action Kit on its Web site -- a sophisticated step-by-step guide to lobbying -- from form letters for MPs and letters to the editor to advice on how to present the case. It has also sent a letter out to the 100,000 Canadian households on its mailing list.

Altogether, Focus on the Family U.S. has channelled $1.6-million in services to its Canadian affiliate between 2000 and 2003, the latest year for which financial reports are available.

Mr. Rogusky said Focus on the Family Canada is independent from its U.S. parent, with its own board of directors and financed by contributions from Canadians.

Documents filed in British Columbia, where Focus on the Family Canada is incorporated, show two of the directors of Focus on the Family Canada -- Tom Mason and Jim Daly -- are vice-presidents of Focus on the Family U.S. with addresses in Colorado Springs. Also listed on the board is Sharon Hayes, a Reform Party MP from 1993 to 1997.

Roger Robins, a professor at Marymount College in California who has studied the role of religion in U.S. politics, said few leaders of the religious right wield as much clout as Mr. Dobson.

"It's huge. James Dobson may be one of the most important religious right figures in America right now...

"If James Dobson calls attention to an issue and urges people to write about it, [legislators] are inundated."

Same-sex marriage supporters worry the involvement of powerful U.S religious groups risks tipping the balance in the debate.

"We simply have no way to protect ourselves against an American invasion by the religious right," said Alex Munter, national co-ordinator for Canadians for Equal Marriage. "In terms of resources, we're just not equal on that basis."

from Canada.com

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Mr. Dobson also attacked Paul Martin for refusing Cabinet ministers a free vote. "Your Prime Minister, Paul Martin, has recently done things to subvert the will of the people," he said.

That's pretty funny. Does Mr. Dobson believe our Parliament should have the opportunity to vote down a matter that has already been decided by the highest court in our country?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure the Supreme Court of Canada provided its opinion on this in 1994 when it stated:

... our Constitution is a living tree which, by way of progressive interpretation, accommodates and addresses the realities of modern life. Read expansively, the word "marriage" in s. 91(26) does not exclude same-sex marriage.

Again, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Mr. Dobson could avail himself of this information, if he was so inclined, with a simple Internet search, in that this seems to have been published to the entire world at http://www.lexum.umontreal.ca/csc-scc/cg...sex~~x=13~~y=13

But then again I'm just a simple caveman. What do I know?

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in an effort to combat the acts of focus on the family etc. i found a website where you can find out who your mp is and send them an email to let them know about your thoughts on the same sex marriage issue. click here

In case you don't know what to write you can copy and paste this.

Hello,

I am a citizen in your riding and I would like to let you know that I support same sex marriage and would like to see it become legal.

Thank-you,

put your name and address here

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i just read this on another board:

"Frankly, fundamentalist Christianity is every bit as alternative a lifestyle as homosexuality."

here, here!

personally, i can't understand why anyone even cares if gay people can marry each other. what is the big flippin' deal? seriously? what are they afraid of? that everyone will turn gay? (oh the horror!)

you know, i sure don't have gay people showing up on my doorstep, accosting me on the street, shoving pamphlets in my hands trying to convince me to be gay, and telling me i will burn in hell for all of eternity if i don't become gay. i can think of harrassment of that nature i sure do encounter from another group of people.

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Two words: F'ING BRILLIANT.

www.pluggedinonline.com (clearly, this inane domain name was registered by someone over 50) is a FOTF site with movie reviews. I tried to repost their entire review of Meet the Fockers but it didn't bring over the headings, which include: "Positive Elements", "Spiritual Content", and others. The review is here

Please read it if only for this portion under "Profanity":

"Characters also use the s-word about half-a-dozen times and take God's or Jesus' name in vain another 15 (including one use of "g--d--n"). "A--" and "h---" also get a workout"

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yeah that's what bugs the bejeebas out of me with this. i really think the Conservatives and the fundies are hyjacking the agenda. i'm probably in a liberal bubble but it seems even conservative friends of mine rank this way low on thier priority scale. If this becomes the issue that subjects us to an election i hope canadians make them pay.

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It's not so much that they're hijacking the agenda, it's that they're defining the terminology.

For example, allowing same-sex couples to marry is an expansion of the definition of "marriage", but the conservatives (et al) talk about "destroying" or "eroding" marriage; they also talk about preserving the "traditional definition" of marriage, when, in fact, they're really talking about the traditionally restrictive definition of marriage.

If I were to interact with someone who didn't want same-sex couples to be allowed to be married, my main questions would be, "Why not? Aside from the people getting married, who's affected by the legislation? Not who doesn't like it, but who is actually affected? Point out one person who is adversely affected by the legislation, and if you can't do that, go away and try to find one."

Aloha,

Brad

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The Christian right (and many less fundamental religious groups) believe that this will be the first step towards legitmizing other forms of relationships, such as polygamy. What they are missing is that it took 30-40 years for the LGB community to make the public open to the idea of same-sex narriage. Currently the polygamy movement is limitied to Bountiful BC and Colorado City. They already do whatever they want and are notorious for not wanting to open their lifestyle to public scrutiny.

What really bothers me about this article is that these US groups are the same ones who screamed that other countries were sticking their noses in US business during the presidential election. So what are they doing now.

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The fear in America is staggering.

Has anyone else been following the case of the university professor in Colorado who's being censured for a piece he wrote in the aftermath of 9/11? The way the media is covering the story and purposefully misrepresenting his words and throwing in their judgement is fu©king scary! I don't neccessarily agree with his comments but they are so tame in comparison with the right-wing rhetoric that flys down south it blows my mind that none of the so-called liberally biased media are raising a finger to defend him. No one has the guts. Fear controls too many decisions.

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Has anyone else been following the case of the university professor in Colorado who's being censured for a piece he wrote in the aftermath of 9/11? The way the media is covering the story and purposefully misrepresenting his words and throwing in their judgement is fu©king scary! I don't neccessarily agree with his comments but they are so tame in comparison with the right-wing rhetoric that flys down south it blows my mind that none of the so-called liberally biased media are raising a finger to defend him. No one has the guts. Fear controls too many decisions.

Ward Churchhill is his name I think. I saw Bill O'Reilly going off on him a few times (I watch for the irony). He said something akin to "the US needs more 9/11 attaks to wake up to the truth ..." which has been shortened to "The US needs more 9/11 attacks." It is pretty sad, but not as sad as this great quote from Fox News last week.

"I meanm it's not like we would say 'Deomcrats are for rape rooms and torture chambers.'"

"'Democrats are for rape rooms and torture chambers'....not something we would say."

Awesome! They said it three times at least, with pictures of Kerry and Dem supporters in the bakground intermixed with pics from Saddam's underground bunker.

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Ward Churchhill is his name I think. I saw Bill O'Reilly going off on him a few times (I watch for the irony). He said something akin to "the US needs more 9/11 attaks to wake up to the truth ..." which has been shortened to "The US needs more 9/11 attacks." It is pretty sad, but not as sad as this great quote from Fox News last week.

Churchill didn't even say that much. He basically described 9/11 as a cause and effect scenario, sort of like, "These people you are oppressing got pissed off and struck back". He did not excuse the terrorists' actions nor did he advocate more attacks. It was just his take on why it happened. I've seen him on CNN twice and it seemed like the news anchors were purposefully misrepresenting his words for the sake of sensationalism (i.e. ratings) and looking superior with their moral indignation. It makes me sick that the level of intellectual discourse amongst Americans has sunk to the point where one can't buck the party line without being labelled a traitor.

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you know something, i am a prospective teacher, and I am getting phone calls from the Catholic Board, I am Catholic, I was even an alter boy at one time.... Anyhow, I don't call back... I really want a teaching job, but, I don't want to have to bend my principles and values... Marriage is not a community thing, its a personal thing... When two people love each other, enough to commit their lives for the rest of their lives that should be good enough for anyone. End of fu©king story!

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