First Amendment rights

To the Editor:

On March 23, my teenaged daughter and I went to Concord, N.H., to stand with hundreds of others in a rally against the Obama HHS Mandate which is a direct attack against our First Amendment right to follow our conscience. My daughter has come to understand that this right was the first right granted by our constitution, really, the right on which the others hinge. She knows her grandfather fought to defend that constitution, many of her uncles went into the military and fought to defend that constitution, and that all those who refused to go when drafted were able to do so as conscientious objectors. It turns out that there were over 63,000 people who showed up at over 160 rallies nation wide, and another is planned for June 8. These are organized by a group called StandUpForReligiousFreedom.com and you can learn more by going into their website. I was sorry we had to go all the way to Concord, N.H., to participate, because there was no rally in Vermont, despite the attack being waged against Catholics in our state who are not willing nor able to "check their conscience" as part of living or doing business in the public square.

That being said, I saw the headline in the April 17 Caledonian-Record, "Randy Brock Cancels Wildflower Fundraiser," and my first thought was, "Oh, the Republican candidate for the office of governor of the state of Vermont planned a fundraiser to help the O'Reilly's to stand up for their conscience against the attack they are facing from homosexuals? And now he's thought better of it?" Certainly, it seemed that heading up such a fundraiser might not get him the "homosexual vote." Then I read the story. I was wrong. This was very different.

The Wildflower was one venue of a fundraiser for Randy Brock's campaign for governor. There are many venues. And for every inn or hotel or restaurant or parking lot that is chosen for a venue, several more are not, for whatever reason, e.g. space, location, rest room availability, whatever. Not having been chosen is not a slap in the face or a punishment of any sort.

This, however, was not the case with The Wildflower Inn. The inn had been chosen. But Randy Brock doesn't feel it's appropriate to hold his fundraiser at the inn which is being sued because the owners cannot participate in an attack on their own faith. Randy Brock chose, instead, to punish the owners of The Wildflower Inn for holding true to their religion in the face of attack.

I hadn't planned to vote for Shumlin. He has harmed Vermont in many ways. However, he is who he is, and hasn't pretended to be anything else.

I can not, in conscience, vote for Randy Brock, having seen this example of his either pandering to the homosexual vote or allowing himself to be the victim of a campaign manager who panders. My constitutional rights are too dear to me to be willing to vote for a panderer or a victim.

Clara Schoppe

St. Johnsbury, Vt.

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