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March 10, 2006



Calling it an issue of “religious liberty,” Governor Mitt Romney today said he plans to file legislation to permit religious institutions to perform adoptions without violating the tenets of their faith.


Today, the board of Catholic Charities voted to stop doing adoptions because of state law which requires that gays be given equal consideration for the placement of children. Because of the Church’s teaching, Catholic agencies may not provide adoptions to gay parents.


“This is a sad day for neglected and abandoned children. In this case, it’s a mistake for our laws to put the rights of adults over the needs of children. While I respect the board’s decision to stay true to their principles, I find the current state of the law deeply disturbing and a threat to religious freedom,” said Romney.


“I ask the Legislature to work with me on a bill that I will file to ensure that religious institutions are able to participate in the important work of adoption in a way that always respects and never forces them to compromise their firmly held beliefs,” he said.


Romney’s bill would authorize religious organizations to provide adoption services consistent with their beliefs by creating an exemption from the state’s nondiscrimination laws.


All Massachusetts adoption agencies are licensed by the state Department of Early Education and Care (EEC).


In addition, since 1977, the state Department of Social Services (DSS) has contracted with Catholic Charities to provide special needs adoption services to children with severe emotional and physical needs. Currently, the waiting list for children in DSS care awaiting adoption is close to 700.

March 10, 2006


Helmets to Hardhats program trains and employs Bay State veterans in construction


Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey today put her support behind a program that provides returning servicemen and women with connections to employment and training in the construction industry. Helmets to Hardhats is a national program that connects military servicemen and women with career opportunities in the building and construction trades.


“The men and women who serve our nation have made many sacrifices,” said Healey. “I feel strongly that we make every effort to help our veterans access training and employment opportunities.”


Healey said it is critical for the Commonwealth to support former military personnel and emphasized her commitment to doing whatever it takes to help returning veterans find meaningful employment.


Healey added, “We honor the service these brave men and women make for this country and want to offer them every chance to successfully return to civilian life.”


The Lieutenant Governor pointed to legislation signed last year that expanded benefits to veterans, members of the Massachusetts National Guard and their families. The new benefits exempt Guard members from paying any fees while attending a Massachusetts public college or university, increase the death benefit paid to families of Guard members killed in the line of duty from $5,000 to $100,000 and create an annuity benefit for Gold Star spouses.


Over the past two years, more than 1,600 military candidates have signed up for Helmets to Hardhats in Massachusetts and 137 local trade unions have posted 1,348 career opportunities with the program. Depending on their level of experience, participants are placed into appropriate education programs, such as apprenticeships that pay them to learn on the job.


Sergeant Alejandro “Dito” Ocampo of Quincy is a member of the Massachusetts National Guard, who is enrolled as a carpenter’s apprentice at Local 33 in Boston after having served in Iraq. “This program gives veterans and soldiers like me an opportunity to enter into employment,” said Ocampo. “It’s an acknowledgement of our service and it is an honor for me to know that there are people and resources who can lead me in the right direction.”


“This program extends an opportunity to our Commonwealth’s veterans to transfer the skills and work habits which they have developed in the military into the building trades, by enabling them to enter an apprenticeship in a field of their choice,” said Kelley. “It’s a win-win for the veteran and the construction industry.”


“Apprenticeship has helped thousands of Massachusetts workers climb the career ladder to employment success,” noted Edmonds. “Apprentices are provided with extensive skill building in their particular trade and as a result perform their jobs exceptionally well. The Helmets to Hardhats program has the potential of making a real difference in the lives of those who have given much and have much to offer.”


Helmets to Hardhats is administered by the Center for Military Recruitment, Assessment and Veterans Employment. For more information, visit www.helmetstohardhats.org.

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