Victory and defeat: In unannounced session, Education Committee caves to pressure -- sends both pro-homosexual Planned Parenthood bill AND Parents' Rights bills to "study" - effectively killing them.
(But is it really all over for Parents' Rights bill?)
(FEBRUARY 15, 2008) You might say it was a typical day of Massachusetts politics.
There was nothing on the main State House website about an executive session by the Joint Education Committee. But late in the afternoon last week, after a public hearing, they gathered in Room A1 and officially "acted" on several dozen bills, including the controversial bills involving homosexuality in the schools. (Luckily, there were people who happened to be there who reported back to MassResistance.)
An executive session is where a committee meets and votes whether to send bills to the full Legislature or effectively kill them by putting them in a "study." Most of the 5,000 or so bills filed each year go to a study.
We put "acted" in quotes above because, according to people who were there, no committee votes were actually taken and there was almost no discussion. This is not surprising, by the way. As we've seen in the past with the Education Committee, the House chairman, Rep. Patricia Haddad, and Senate chairmen, Sen. Robert Antonioni, simply make the decision themselves. A perfunctory "any objections" is called out, but no one ever actually objects.
From our standpoint, four major things happened:
- The Planned Parenthood pro-homosexual bill (H597/S288) was sent to a study - a BIG victory for the pro-family movement! This horrific bill would have written into law "reproduction and sexuality, mental health, family life, and interpersonal relations" as required subjects in the public schools. This was a huge setback for Planned Parenthood and the homosexual groups. For the second time in a row, they put heavy resources into getting this passed. But MassResistance (and parents across the state) pummeled the Legislature with phone calls, emails, letters, and personal visits against this bill. (Various links on this bill, & public hearing, here.)
Interestingly, at the executive session lead sponsor Rep. Alice Wolf (D-Cambridge) wasn't too pleased. "I'm really sorry that this is going to a study," she told Haddad. Haddad shot back, "Well, I am, too, but that's what's happening." Yup, too bad.
Congratulations to everyone who got involved and fought this.
- Parents Rights Bill gets sent to study. As with the original Parents Notification Bill back in 1996 (which was eventually passed and signed into law) the Education Committee simply does not want to deal with this subject. The homosexual lobby sees this as their worst nightmare because it completely blocks their access to kids without parents' consent. Thus, the pro-homosexual Senate chairman Sen. Robert Antonioni told a radical homosexual group that he'd make sure this bill got killed. More on the Parents' Rights Bill, S321.
With the enormous surge in blatant homosexual activism in the public schools, and the judge in the David Parker case ruling that Massachusetts laws do not protect parents from any of it, parents simply aren't taking it any longer!
And there's no question that over the last few weeks the committee members have been getting literally hundreds of phone calls and emails from angry parents who demand this protection. Staffers have become quite rude and demeaning, and hung up on parents, lied to them about what the bill does, and (of course) blamed MassResistance for stirring up a lot of trouble. (To which we plead: Guilty as charged!)
One staffer even argued that giving parents that kind of control would cause kids to miss out on valuable information. (We don't think this twenty-something staffer actually has any kids of his own.)
Is this the end of the line for parents rights Massachusetts? The short answer is: No, it's not. Although it's rare, it's not really difficult for a committee chairman to pull a bill OUT of study and back into the legislative stream. It's just going to take the kind of pressure that parents put on the Legislature a dozen years ago, when the original Parental Notification Law was introduced and the Education Committee was equally hostile to that bill. We put enormous pressure on them, and it got through. Moreover, the hostile House Chairman, Rep. Shirley Owens-Hicks ended up becoming a vocal supporter parents' rights. So we're not giving up. Keep your powder dry; this is just beginning. More on this in the coming week.
- The four "phony" parents rights bills also get thrown into study. You may recall that in addition to the "real" parents rights bill, S321, some legislators filed four additional watered-down versions. (In fact, a few of these bills were actually worse than the existing law, if you studied them!) The prevailing "wisdom" was that if you were "moderate" and didn't demand too much, then the homosexual lobby would be willing to be reasonable, also. Well, guess what? That never works. When will people learn?
Here are the four "moderate" parents rights bills that also got canned.
- Education Committee consolidates the various "anti-bullying" bills into a new bill, sends it to Senate Ways and Means Committee. (This actually happened at their executive session on Jan 16.)
There were several very similar bills filed which would require implementation of an "anti-bullying" agenda. Bullying in schools can be a problem. But as we've discussed, these particular types of programs were being pushed by the homosexual lobby, and were mostly a front for pushing their agenda. Read more here.
The good news is that we made enough noise that the committee re-wrote these bills into one new bill. But the bad news is that the new bill looks like it's even worse than the others. (You can't take your eyes off these people!)
We've started writing an analysis of this new bill which we hope to present to you early next week.
All in all, the Planned Parenthood bill being sent to study is a huge relief. And although the Parents' Rights Bill being sent to study is a setback, we're in a better position to keep it alive than the other side is of theirs. The fight continues.