Has Irish political life been subverted by millions of American dollars?

Under a sub-deitor’s rather lame headline in today’s Irish Times, columnist Breda O’Brien, unveils a very worrying picture of deceit and manipulation at the heart of Irish public life. The headline itself speaks volumes. No one on the sidelines of the Yes/No battle raging in Ireland just now over the proposed change in Ireland’s constitution to change the understanding of the institution of marriage can have any doubt about what the headlines would be like if the questions she asks were asked about the other side. It would be a front page story. It would be time to inflict a “shock and awe” bombardment on the neanderthals who want to cling to an understanding of marriage as something between a man and a woman, something to which the welfare of society and the health and happiness of children is naturally tied.

O’Brien begins calmly with a few hypothetical suppositions and then proceeds to turn the pages of a book which has been on our open shelves but which a media and political culture blinded by groupthink has been unable to see. She writes:

Suppose I confessed that over the past number of years, the Iona Institute, of which I am an unpaid patron, has received millions of American dollars to advance a particular agenda.

Those dollars have allowed us to grow from a single-person organisation to a highly skilled, mobilised, fully professionalised lobbying machine employing seven full-time staff and numerous consultants.

Those staff and consultants operate “inside the machinery of government”, and people associated with Iona have ended up on key boards such as the Irish Human Rights and Equality Authority.

It enabled us to change the agenda on a government working group in 2006 and persuaded it to make recommendations that were ruled out in the original remit of that group.

Suppose I admitted that between September and November 2009 alone, Iona met with more than 40 politicians, including three ministers one-to-one.

When I tell you that absolutely none of that is true of Iona because it has never received any American money and never had instant access to key politicians, but that instead I’m describing the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN), eyes will glaze over and the salivating interest will disappear.

Groupthink has been exalted to an Irish sacrament. While journalists were targeting tiny bootstrap conservative organisations and accusing them of being American-funded, GLEN, the most successful lobby group in Irish history, was swimming in greenbacks.

This is a story for investigative journalists that doesn’t even require much investigation. Try typing GLEN into the search box of the Atlantic Philanthropies website.

Read the Atlantic publication, Civil Partnership and Ireland – From a Minority to a Majority, to see the step by step strategy. Why bother to conceal it? There will be no outrage, no consequences.

GLEN did everything described in the first paragraphs of this article while registered as a charity with the Revenue Commissioners. GLEN Campaign for Marriage registered with the Standards in Public Office Commission in 2015 – will this affect its fundraising?

If Atlantic Philanthropies is beyond question, if shedloads of money used to advance agendas render you beyond scrutiny, we should just let the anniversary year of 2016 go by without comment, as an utterly failed Republic.

And what shedloads. According to Atlantic, GLEN received $4,727,860 between 2005 and 2011.

Yes, four and three quarter million dollars. (Incidentally, GLEN explained to The Irish Times in 2013 that it gets only half its funding from Atlantic.)

Atlantic explains that in 2005, “GLEN was essentially a voluntary organisation with a single-funded post working on gay HIV strategies, which was funded by the HSE”. GLEN does not provide services. It focuses on policy and legislative change.

By the last report, Catalysing LGBT Equality and Visibility in Ireland, GLEN is described thus: “Their multi-year grant from Atlantic enabled them to ramp up their work into a full-time, highly professionalised lobbying machine. It works ‘inside’ the machinery of government where it uses a ‘principled pragmatist’ model in which it consolidates support, wins over the doubtful and pacifies those who are opposed.

“GLEN leaders believed that the most viable way to embed long-lasting social change was to legislate incrementally, waiting to advocate for civil marriage until the population was acculturated to the ordinariness of same-sex unions.”

It must be the most successful “acculturation” in Irish history.

The only acceptable narrative is that this is a benign grassroots movement, because if we admitted that it is instead a slick, elite movement of highly educated professionals funded from abroad we might have to admit we were skilfully manipulated. And that could not be true.

Atlantic credits itself with securing civil partnership in 2010, describing it as “some of the most far-reaching legal protections for gay and lesbian couples in the world”.

Civil partnership affords far greater rights than “US state-based civil marriage because the latter cannot include federal rights in critical areas such as immigration, tax and health benefits”.

Funny, I thought civil partnership was discriminatory and second class.

In 2009, GLEN had 348 media appearances – 179 broadcasts and the rest ranged from national newspapers to the Law Society Gazette. Almost one per day.

Let’s not forget Marriage Equality, whose name even ended up on the referendum ballot paper. They got a mere $475,215 from Atlantic.

But it enabled them to set up a full-time office, to lobby and use “backroom” tactics like “hiring professional political advisers who were working with the government on other issues to report back on the government’s thinking on same-sex marriage”.

Oh, and the other part of Yes Equality, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL)? From 2001 to 2010, it got $7,727,700 and another $3,829,693 in 2010 and 2013. Sure, ICCL didn’t spend all that on redefining marriage. Just some of it. Do tell, ICCL, exactly how much.

This is not Atlantic Philanthropies funding a hospital or school. This is foreign money being systematically invested to change public opinion, to deliver seamlessly a Yes in a referendum that has enormous consequences for family law for generations.

All the while soothing us by spinning it as just “seventeen little words”. Can American money buy an Irish referendum? Let’s wait and see.

And let us see if these questions asked by O’Brien will have any traction across the Irish broadcast and print media spectrum? Regardless of what the answer to that question may be perhaps we can place some hope in the old adage, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

An Orwellian future for Ireland too?

If it happened there, why do we think it will not happen in Ireland as well? What happened?

Freedom of speech, press, religion, and association have suffered greatly due to government pressure. The debate over same-sex marriage that is taking place in the United States could not legally exist there today. Because of legal restrictions on speech, if you say or write anything considered “homophobic” (including, by definition, anything questioning same-sex marriage), you could face discipline, termination of employment, or prosecution by the government. That country is Canada.

Canada used to be one of the most democratic countries in the world, and one of the countries which was regularly ranked as one of the best countries in the world in which to live. Is it so anymore? Canada is now one of the countries in the world which is leading the charge to the totalitarianism of political correctness, which is threatening the treasured values of freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the rights and duties of parents to raise and educate their children. Communist ideology in the heyday of its practical application will be very much in the historic shade if democratic countries fail to stop this new totalitarian juggernaut.

Dawn Stefanowicz is an internationally recognized speaker and author. She is a member of the Testimonial Committee of the International Children’s Rights Institute. In a recent essay, posted on the website of the Princeton-based Witherspoon Institute, she gives a chilling picture of not just where Canada is headed but of where it has already arrived.

I am one of six adult children of gay parents who recently filed amicus briefs with the US Supreme Court, asking the Court to respect the authority of citizens to keep the original definition of marriage: a union between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, so that children may know and may be raised by their biological parents. I also live in Canada, where same-sex marriage was federally mandated in 2005.

I am the daughter of a gay father who died of AIDS. I described my experiences in my book: Out From Under: The Impact of Homosexual Parenting. Over fifty adult children who were raised by LGBT parents have communicated with me and share my concerns about same-sex marriage and parenting. Many of us struggle with our own sexuality and sense of gender because of the influences in our household environments growing up.

We have great compassion for people who struggle with their sexuality and gender identity—not animosity. And we love our parents. Yet, when we go public with our stories, we often face ostracism, silencing, and threats.

I want to warn America to expect severe erosion of First Amendment freedoms if the US Supreme Court mandates same-sex marriage. The consequences have played out in Canada for ten years now, and they are truly Orwellian in nature and scope.

Canada’s Lessons

In Canada, freedoms of speech, press, religion, and association have suffered greatly due to government pressure. The debate over same-sex marriage that is taking place in the United States could not legally exist in Canada today. Because of legal restrictions on speech, if you say or write anything considered “homophobic” (including, by definition, anything questioning same-sex marriage), you could face discipline, termination of employment, or prosecution by the government.

Why do police prosecute speech under the guise of eliminating “hate speech” when there are existing legal remedies and criminal protections against slander, defamation, threats, and assault that equally apply to all Americans? Hate-crime-like policies using the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” create unequal protections in law, whereby protected groups receive more legal protection than other groups.

Having witnessed how mob hysteria in Indiana caused the legislature to back-track on a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, many Americans are beginning to understand that some activists on the Left want to usher in state control over every institution and freedom. In this scheme, personal autonomy and freedom of expression become nothing more than pipe dreams, and children become commodified.

Children are not commodities that can be justifiably severed from their natural parentage and traded between unrelated adults. Children in same-sex households will often deny their grief and pretend they don’t miss a biological parent, feeling pressured to speak positively due to the politics surrounding LGBT households. However, when children lose either of their biological parents because of death, divorce, adoption, or artificial reproductive technology, they experience a painful void. It is the same for us when our gay parent brings his or her same-sex partner(s) into our lives. Their partner(s) can never replace our missing biological parent.

The State as Ultimate Arbiter of Parenthood

Over and over, we are told that “permitting same-sex couples access to the designation of marriage will not deprive anyone of any rights.” That is a lie.

When same-sex marriage was legalized in Canada in 2005, parenting was immediately redefined. Canada’s gay marriage law, Bill C-38, included a provision to erase the term “natural parent” and replace it across the board with gender-neutral “legal parent” in federal law. Now all children only have “legal parents,” as defined by the state. By legally erasing biological parenthood in this way, the state ignores children’s foremost right: their immutable, intrinsic yearning to know and be raised by their own biological parents.

Mothers and fathers bring unique and complementary gifts to their children. Contrary to the logic of same-sex marriage, the gender of parents matters for the healthy development of children. We know, for example, that the majority of incarcerated men did not have their fathers in the home. Fathers by their nature secure identity, instill direction, provide discipline, boundaries, and risk-taking adventures, and set lifelong examples for children. But fathers cannot nurture children in the womb or give birth to and breast-feed babies. Mothers nurture children in unique and beneficial ways that cannot be duplicated by fathers.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that men and women are anatomically, biologically, physiologically, psychologically, hormonally, and neurologically different from each other. These unique differences provide lifelong benefits to children that cannot be duplicated by same-gender “legal” parents acting out different gender roles or attempting to substitute for the missing male or female role model in the home.

In effect, same-sex marriage not only deprives children of their own rights to natural parentage, it gives the state the power to override the autonomy of biological parents, which means parental rights are usurped by the government.

Hate Tribunals Are Coming

In Canada, it is considered discriminatory to say that marriage is between a man and a woman or that every child should know and be raised by his or her biological married parents. It is not just politically incorrect in Canada to say so; you can be saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, fined, and forced to take sensitivity training.

Anyone who is offended by something you have said or written can make a complaint to the Human Rights Commissions and Tribunals. In Canada, these organizations police speech, penalizing citizens for any expression deemed in opposition to particular sexual behaviors or protected groups identified under “sexual orientation.” It takes only one complaint against a person to be brought before the tribunal, costing the defendant tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. The commissions have the power to enter private residences and remove all items pertinent to their investigations, checking for hate speech.

The plaintiff making the complaint has his legal fees completely paid for by the government. Not so the defendant. Even if the defendant is found innocent, he cannot recover his legal costs. If he is found guilty, he must pay fines to the person(s) who brought forth the complaint.

If your beliefs, values, and political opinions are different from the state’s, you risk losing your professional license, job, or business, and even your children. Look no further than the Lev Tahor Sect, an Orthodox Jewish sect. Many members, who had been involved in a bitter custody battle with child protection services, began leaving Chatham, Ontario, for Guatemala in March 2014, to escape prosecution for their religious faith, which conflicted with the Province’s guidelines for religious education. Of the two hundred sect members, only half a dozen families remain in Chatham.

Parents can expect state interference when it comes to moral values, parenting, and education—and not just in school. The state has access into your home to supervise you as the parent, to judge your suitability. And if the state doesn’t like what you are teaching your children, the state will attempt to remove them from your home.

Teachers cannot make comments in their social networks, write letters to editors, publicly debate, or vote according to their own conscience on their own time. They can be disciplined or lose any chance of tenure. They can be required at a bureaucrat’s whim to take re-education classes or sensitivity training, or be fired for thinking politically incorrect thoughts.

When same-sex marriage was created in Canada, gender-neutral language became legally mandated. Newspeak proclaims that it is discriminatory to assume a human being is male or female, or heterosexual. So, to be inclusive, special non-gender-specific language is being used in media, government, workplaces, and especially schools to avoid appearing ignorant, homophobic, or discriminatory. A special curriculum is being used in many schools to teach students how to use proper gender-neutral language. Unbeknownst to many parents, use of gender terms to describe husband and wife, father and mother, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and “he” and “she” is being steadily eradicated in Canadian schools.

Which Is More Important: Sexual Autonomy or the First Amendment?

Recently, an American professor who was anonymously interviewed for the American Conservative questioned whether sexual autonomy is going to cost you your freedoms: “We are now at the point, he said, at which it is legitimate to ask if sexual autonomy is more important than the First Amendment?”

Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canadian citizens were supposed to have been guaranteed: (1) freedom of conscience and religion; (2) freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; (3) freedom of peaceful assembly; and (4) freedom of association. In reality, all of these freedoms have been curtailed with the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Wedding planners, rental halls, bed and breakfast owners, florists, photographers, and bakers have already seen their freedoms eroded, conscience rights ignored, and religious freedoms trampled in Canada. But this is not just about the wedding industry. Anybody who owns a business may not legally permit his or her conscience to inform business practices or decisions if those decisions are not in line with the tribunals’ decisions and the government’s sexual orientation and gender identity non-discrimination laws. In the end, this means that the state basically dictates whether and how citizens may express themselves.

Freedom to assemble and speak freely about man-woman marriage, family, and sexuality is now restricted. Most faith communities have become “politically correct” to avoid fines and loss of charitable status. Canadian media are restricted by the Canadian Radio, Television, and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), which is similar to the FCC. If the media air anything considered discriminatory, broadcasting licenses can be revoked, and “human rights bodies” can charge fines and restrict future airings.

An example of legally curtailed speech regarding homosexuality in Canada involves the case of Bill Whatcott, who was arrested for hate speech in April 2014 after distributing pamphlets that were critical of homosexuality. Whether or not you agree with what he says, you should be aghast at this state-sanctioned gagging. Books, DVDs, and other materials can also be confiscated at the Canadian border if the materials are deemed “hateful.”

Americans need to prepare for the same sort of surveillance-society in America if the Supreme Court rules to ban marriage as a male-female institution. It means that no matter what you believe, the government will be free to regulate your speech, your writing, your associations, and whether or not you may express your conscience. Americans also need to understand that the endgame for some in the LGBT rights movement involves centralized state power—and the end of First Amendment freedoms.

Dawn Stefanowicz’s book, Out From Under: The Impact of Homosexual Parenting, is available at http://www.dawnstefanowicz.org. Dawn, a full-time licensed accountant, is married and has two teenaged children.