.- Gov. Kathleen Blanco of Louisiana, a Democrat, responded to charges by the American Civil Liberties Union that Louisiana’s abstinence program is promoting religion in violation of a 2002 court settlement, saying that images of a man and woman being married by a priest are simply reflective of the vision of marriage held by the majority of Louisiana’s citizens.
In 2002 there was a court settlement to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU claiming that the Louisiana Government’s Program on Abstinence was funding overtly religious education programs.
Now, reports Kevin McGill of Associated Press, the ACLU is pointing to links on the Abstinence Program’s website, AbstinenceEdu.com, to websites with faith-based content.
Gov. Blanco responded by saying that the links do not violate the settlement, because the articles were not composed by the Abstinence program, and a notice was added next to the links indicating whether or not they had faith-based content.
Commenting on an ACLU complaint about an online question and answer forum in whch religious views were expressed by some participants, Gov. Blanco said "if these young people choose to discuss their faith in God as a motivating factor in their abstinence decision, they are well within their rights under the Constitution."
She also commented on a ACLU complaint about a script for a skit called “The Wedding,” which makes references to God, saying that "like most Louisiana citizens, I believe that marriage is a sacrament between a man and a woman. Therefore, I do not believe it inappropriate for the website to portray a couple being married by a religious leader which, after all, is the way the overwhelming majority of our citizens are married in this state under its laws."
"This promotes no specific religious belief,” she said, “It is merely reflective of reality."
Louisiana ACLU director Joe Cook said that "We still believe that we're on firm legal grounds. People can certainly base their decision about engaging in sexual activity on religious beliefs but the government cannot convey that message and use tax funds as a vehicle to do it."