- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 4, 2001

Opposing Cellucci

Pro-family groups in the United States and Canada are mounting fierce opposition to the nomination of Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci as ambassador to Canada, accusing him of promoting a radical homosexual agenda.
More than three dozen American and about a dozen Canadian groups have sent letters to the White House and all members of the Senate, and 100,000 U.S. citizens have signed a petition against the Republican governor's nomination, organizers of the protest said yesterday.
"He promotes a pro-homosexual agenda in the public schools with very explicit descriptions of homosexual practices," John Haskins of the Boston-based Parents' Rights Coalition told Embassy Row yesterday.
The Family Research Council, one of the largest pro-family groups in the United States, has written Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms to urge the defeat of the Cellucci nomination.
"We are strongly opposed," said council spokesman Bob Morrison. "He's not a good public servant."
Besides homosexual issues, the council opposes the lowering of the age of consent for abortions in Massachusetts to 16 from 18 years old, he added.
John Birtwell, a spokesman for Mr. Cellucci, said the governor is aware of the opposition, but he disputed the characterization of Mr. Cellucci's position on homosexual rights.
"He has support from the gay and lesbian community, but also from conservative Republicans like me," Mr. Birtwell said.
Mr. Cellucci has promoted programs that advocate "tolerance and respect for people of all stripes. That is not a position he is ashamed of."
The pro-family groups were especially outraged over a homosexual seminar last year at Tufts University that was funded in part by state money. The seminar included explicit instructions in homosexual practices.
Mr. Birtwell said the governor "condemned the actions" when he learned about details of the seminar in press reports. Two employees of the state education department were later fired for their participation in the forum.
The opposition of Canadian groups is unusual because organizations in host countries rarely mount campaigns to stop a U.S. ambassadorial nomination.
"The evidence of Mr. Cellucci's long-standing loyalties to the most radical groups in his state, to the detriment of Massachusetts children and their families, is impossible to overlook," said Roy Beyer, president of the Canada Family Action Coalition. "The decision of taking the unusual step of objecting to another nation's ambassadorial appointment is not taken lightly."
Brian Rushfeldt, the coalition's executive director, added, "When your neighbors, who know the man, raise such flags of concern, it gets your attention."
The other Canadian groups opposing the nomination include REAL Women of Canada, Choose Life Canada, the Alberta Federation of Women United for Families and Renaissance Canada.
Ironically, a homosexual group also signed a letter against the nomination.
John McKellar of the Toronto-based Homosexuals Opposed to Pride Extremism said he joined the opposition because his group objects to the "strident" display of homosexuality.
The 39 U.S. groups opposing the nomination include the Eagle Forum, Concerned Women for America, the Traditional Values Coalition, Public Advocate, Family First and Americans for Truth Project.
Truth Project Director Peter LaBarbera in a letter to the Senate denounced Mr. Cellucci for "championing the aggressive promotion of homosexual and transgender lifestyles in Massachusetts schools."
Whether the campaign will amount to more than vocal opposition may be answered today when the Foreign Relations Committee holds a hearing on the Cellucci nomination. The committee is scheduled to meet at 9:30 a.m. in Room 419 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.
Mr. Helms last week told the Boston Globe that he was unaware of any opposition to Mr. Cellucci.
"I don't know anybody who's got a problem with it," he said.

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