Pete Winn | Senior Staff Writer | Thursday, November 29, 2007
Republican hopefuls Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney don't think the book, entitled "King and King," should be read to children, but Democrats John Edwards, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton give it a qualified "thumbs up."
The book is a story for young children about a prince who, instead of marrying a princess, decides to marry her brother instead. Cybercast News Service posed a question to all the major presidential candidates: "Should teachers read the book to second graders as part of the school curriculum? Would you read it - or have read it - to your own children?"
"The answer is no," Thompson's chief campaign spokesman told Cybercast News Service. "He's very clear. There is no wishy-washiness."
Romney is also opposed.
"This is a subject that should be left to parents, not public school teachers," the former Massachusetts governor said in a statement. "We need to strengthen our families by passing a federal marriage amendment and also insisting on marriage before having children."
But Edwards, Obama, and Clinton endorsed the book for second graders when they were asked about it in September during the Democratic debate in New Hampshire.
"Yes, absolutely," Edwards said. "What I want ... is my children to understand everything about the difficulties that gay and lesbian couples are faced with every day; the discrimination that they're faced with every single day of their lives."
Edwards said he "didn't want to impose" his views on his 9-year-old and 7-year-old.
"Nobody made me God," said the former North Carolina senator. "I want my children to be able to make that decision on behalf of themselves, and I want them to be exposed to all the information, even in - did you say second grade? Second grade might be a little tough, but even in second grade."
Obama, a Democratic senator from Illinois, said he and his wife have already talked to their 9-year-old and 6-year-old about same-sex marriage.
"One of the things I want to communicate to my children is not to be afraid of people who are different, because there have been times in our history where I was considered different," he told his questioner, New England Cable News reporter Allison King.
Clinton, who represents New York in the Senate, said "differences" have been used for political purposes in the last several elections, but the question of "individual children" was a matter for parental discretion.
"I think that obviously it is better to try to work with your children, to help your children understand the many differences that are in the world and to really respect other people and the choices that other people make," she said. "And that goes far beyond sexual orientation."
But David Parker, a Lexington, Mass., parent who has battled his school district over books like "King and King," has harsh words for any candidate who supports books that would promote same-sex marriage to young children.
"I am very disappointed with their responses," Parker told Cybercast News Service. "I think clearly they are out of touch with the American public on this. To be affirming and embracing and celebrating gay marriage and homosexual conduct in elementary school behind the backs of parents is clearly not a direction we want our nation to go."
Parker was jailed in 2005 after he insisted Lexington school officials follow Massachusetts' parental notification law and assure him they would not read such books to his then-kindergartner without prior notice. Massachusetts was the first state in the union to implement same-sex marriage.
"We went into a meeting with the administration, they said they were not going to tell us, and I basically made the statement, 'I'm prepared to sit here all night until I get some form of accommodation for our little boy.' Then they called the Lexington police, who put me in handcuffs, and they took me to the Lexington jail. I opted out of paying bail, so they put me in jail over night."
Peter LaBarbera with Americans for Truth about Homosexuality said "King and King" is one of several books on same-sex marriage being used in school rooms across the country. They are being used, he said, for one purpose - to propagandize young children.
"The homosexual movement is moving to push the behavior on young children, with the idea being that they can get to them before the natural moral opposition to homosexuality is even formed," LaBarbera said.
But David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute and a writer for the Independent Gay Forum, doesn't see it that way - and doesn't find anything wrong with the book or its usage.
"Should the federal government require this book? I would say no. Should the federal government ban this book, no it shouldn't," Boaz told Cybercast News Service.
"But if the question is, should this book be in local libraries or in school districts, then I would say sure, why not? There are some gay families, so what's wrong with letting kids find out in a calm, non-hysterical way that there are different kinds of families in the world?"
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