October 23, 2008 Publishing Good News since 1884 Volume 125 Number 37

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Massachusetts parents warn about dangers of ‘gay marriage’

Religious liberty concerns raised at Tallahassee news conference


Photo by James A. Smith Sr.

Robin and Robb Wirthlin of Lexington, Mass., describe their unsuccessful effort to protect their second grade child from being taught about "gay marriage" in school. Behind the Wirthlins at the Oct. 22 news conference in Tallahassee is an enlarged cover of the book, King and King, taught to their seven-year-old son.

TALLAHASSEE (FBW) – Massachusetts parents Robb and Robin Wirthlin don’t want parents in Florida to have the same experience as they did when their seven-year-old son was taught from a book advocating “gay marriage” in his second grade public school classroom in the wake of that state’s legalization of same-sex marriages.

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“It’s troubling and it’s disturbing. We don’t want this to happen to any other family,” Robb Wirthlin, joined by his wife, said at a Tallahassee news conference today.

The Wirthlins, also joined by a Hillsborough County teacher, a First Amendment attorney, and religious leaders, urged Floridians to support the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment (also known as Amendment 2 on the November ballot) to protect traditional marriage in order to avoid the negative educational and religious liberty ramifications that have arisen in other states with “gay marriage.”

“If we had a million dollars to give the campaign we would because we don’t want anyone to go through this – what we’ve been through,” Robb Wirthlin said.

Photo by James A. Smith Sr.

Examples of pro-homosexual books used in public schools were displayed at an Oct. 22 news conference in Tallahassee urging support for the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment.

King and King, the book taught to the Wirthlins’ son, tells the story of a prince who rejects female suitors deemed to be deficient for various reasons, choosing instead to marry another prince.

“It’s such a young age; can’t we wait until the kids are a little older?” said Robin Wirthlin, describing her argument to school officials. “In second grade they’re still learning how to sit still and raise their hand when they have a question. They don’t need to face adult, complex social issues.”

The Wirthlins unsuccessfully appealed to their son’s teacher and principal to receive prior notice before such subject matter is taught or to opt-out of such lessons. Later, a federal lawsuit also failed to protect the parents’ rights, and the Wirthlins have been subjected to ridicule and hostility by other citizens in Lexington.

“I think the real bottom line is when gay marriage is legalized, it really is not just about two people. The social consequences trickle down to the lowest levels of society,” Robb Wirthlin said.

James Pope, a social studies teacher in Hillsborough County Schools, said: “It’s not my responsibility to teach students about personal relationships. That’s the role of their parents.”

A member of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Pope added: “I teach kids about historical, social issues and the movements that have shaped our nation. But I don’t believe it’s my responsibility … to indoctrinate them about sexual issues that may go against their own consciences or may go against the dictates of their parents’ wishes.”

Anita Staver, president of Liberty Counsel and co-author of the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment, told reporters: “We don’t need a crystal ball to tell what’s going to happen in Florida if Amendment 2 does not pass. Normalizing same-sex marriage will suppress speech and religion. The ultimate goal for those opposing Amendment 2 is to silence all opposition to same-sex behavior and the homosexual lifestyle.”

Noting the “gay marriage” debate is “really a battle over the freedom of speech,” Staver listed 10 examples in schools, churches and private businesses in which persons opposing homosexuality have been discriminated against, usually in states and countries where “gay marriage” has been legalized.

“Florida, we’ve had ample warning. To prevent similar travesties from coming to this state, we need to get ready. We need to vote yes on Amendment 2,” Staver said.

David Buegler, vice president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod in St. Louis, Mo., expressed concern about religious liberty implications of the approval of “gay marriage,” telling reporters that LCMS pastors in California have already been pressured to perform same-sex ceremonies.

Also standing in support of Amendment 2 at the news conference were several Tallahassee-area pastors, including Curtis Clark of Thomasville Road Baptist Church.

John Stemberger, an Orlando attorney and chairman of the Yes2Marriage.org campaign, said that while homosexuals “should be afforded every single dignity and respect and right … they do not have the right, and by God’s grace they will not have the right, to fundamentally redefine this basic, human institution that has served us since the beginning of time.”

Constitutional amendments in Florida must be approved by 60 percent. Recent polling on Amendment 2 have the measure ranging from 53 to 57 percent of respondents in favor.