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Lynn Johnston is a resident of North Bay, ON, Canada. She is better known as the creator of a popular, syndicated comic strip, "For Better or For Worse." It is distributed to over 1700 newspapers throughout North America. Her comic strip is translated from English into four other languages. In 1985, she became the first woman ever to win the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year. She won the Best Syndicated Comic Strip from the National Cartoonists Society (NCS) in 1992. She was appointed to the distinguished Order of Canada in 1992 and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1994.

About 1993, she created a series of episodes involving "Lawrence", the male friend of a teenage character in the strip who was wrestling with his gay orientation. The sequence was motivated by the dreadful experiences of one of Lynn's in-laws (we think) who suffered at the hands of some homophobic individuals. Ms. Johnston actually created an alternative series of episodes on another topic that was supplied to newspapers that did not want to show the story of the gay teen. The vast majority of newspapers did publish the original gay-positive episodes.

After many years, Ms. Johnston is now returning to the same topic. Lawrence will reappear, and talk about a relationship problem that he is having. This will appear in 4 episodes from 1997-AUG-20 to 23 inclusive. Apparently, even fewer newspapers are opting out this time.

A coalition of religious right organizations is attempting to organize a boycott of newspapers that carry the strip. The groups are: The Christian Alert Network (TCAN), the American Family Association (AFA) and the Christian Family Network (CFN). The following news release includes some phraseology the "Religious Right" which may be confusing. A glossary explaining some of these phrases appears below:
bullet"Pro-Family Groups" means organizations that are opposed to equal rights for gays and lesbians and, in particular, opposed to families with gay and lesbian parents. They are, in reality, anti-family groups.
bullet"Push the homosexual agenda" means to portray a gay or lesbian character accurately and with sympathy.
bullet"Disregard for morals" refers to people who oppose homophobia and who promote the radical concept of "liberty and justice for all."
bullet"Homosexual lifestyle" means a person who has willfully chosen homosexual behavior. Aside from some bisexuals, we are unaware of any such people.
bullet"Attack on the family" means the expansion of the concept of "family" to include additional types of family units.

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The press release reads as follows:

August 19, 1997

Contact: Don Jackson, President - (937) 236-5433 Christian Family Network

"For Better Or For Worse?"...Pro-Family Groups Says, "Worse"

A nationally published cartoon strip, "For Better Or For Worse" is for the second time being used to push the homosexual agenda. This has many people across the nation upset at the blatant disregard for values and morality being shown by the cartoonist and the newspapers that are running the series.

Cartoonist Lynn Johnston's syndicated strip, distributed to over 1700 newspapers, will center on the "love life" of a homosexual character, Lawrence, who was "outed" in a previous series that ran several years ago. Because of plans to run this series of comic strips with a homosexual theme, a national pro-family organization is urging action by those opposed to the homosexual lifestyle.

Christian Family Network, in conjunction with other pro-family organizations, feels it is necessary to respond to this attack on the family. CFN is asking people with subscriptions to newspapers carrying "For Better Or For Worse" to call and respectfully ask that their newspapers NOT be delivered on this Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; the days that the homosexual agenda will be pushed through the comic strip. CFN is quick to point out that this is not a boycott of newspapers, but is a way of letting all involved know that the American public is unwilling to be an accomplice to the liberal homosexual agenda. While the cartoonist may have her right to draw the strip she wants, and the newspapers have the right to run the strip, consumers likewise have a right not to be subjected to the harmful effects this material may have on their families.

The "comic page," read by all family members including the very young, is one place in the newspaper that should be safe from unhealthy agendas.

Cartoonists and newspapers have a responsibility to ensure that the comic page is available for safe, healthy, enjoyable entertainment. This page should not be used as an indoctrination tool for the homosexual lifestyle.

The media, in its many forms, has become the cheerleader for the homosexual movement and are the true "change-agents" of society. This is another example of media power gone wrong; where that power is used in an effort to reshape the public's opinion of the homosexual lifestyle. In reality, homosexuality is immoral, unscriptural, and unhealthy. We hear the 'media elite" speak of tolerance, but we must stand firm and say that some things were not meant to be tolerated and this is one of them.

"There have been but a handful of newspapers of the 1700 carriers of "For Better Or For Worse" that have declined the series, stated CFN President Don Jackson. "While most newspapers have decided to aid and abet the homosexual agenda, we intend to have an impact on as many of them as possible. The subscription cancellation action is to take place across the nation beginning Monday. Pro-family groups feel that though the actions are simple and easy, they WILL make a difference."

"If people respond in this way to their local newspaper, it sends a very strong message that the American public is unwilling to be an accomplice to the liberal homosexual agenda being pushed on us at every opportunity through every imaginable medium," says Jackson. "This is not a boycott of newspapers; it is simply our way of declining to participate in the homosexual agenda. We have no other option than to let our voices be heard. Silence is the door of consent!"

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We have followed their request by placing this document on the Internet

Sponsored link:

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as soon as we received it.

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What the Comic Strip Said

The story ran for four days, 1997-AUG-20 to 23 (Wednesday to Saturday). It developed as follows:
bulletAUG-20: Lawrence, a gay male, has a job with Lakeshore Landscaping. Mrs. P is commending him for an excellent job on the backyard. She said: "When you're talented and confident and hard-working - doors open for you and all kinds of opportunities happen! Its great to see you young people going places!! Lawrence replies, with a sad expression: "I guess...My partner, Ben. is moving to Paris."
bulletAUG-21: Mike P, a straight contemporary of Lawrence talks to him. Lawrence says "He [Ben] got a scholarship to study piano at Le Conservatorie - so how can I hold him back? I'm proud and happy for him - But I'm gonna miss him so much; it's going to hurt like nothing I've ever felt before! Man I can't believe I'm actually telling you this!!" Mike responds: "And would you believe that I actually understand?!!"
bulletAUG-22: Mike delivers a noble speech about love; how love often results in pain; loving someone lowers your defenses and makes you vulnerable to loss. But the good memories make it all worth while. Lawrence comments: "Let it be known that this speech comes from a guy who's in a 'happening relationship'."
bulletAUG-23: Lawrence and Mike are eating jam and peanut butter sandwiches. Lawrence comments how Mike and his family have been great to him. When he came out of the closet, nobody in that family treated him like he "was evil or weird or anything." Mike responded that there is one think about his "lifestyle" that has bothered all of them for a long time. He doesn't eat his crusts. We see a plate in front of Lawrence with four long, abandoned crusts.
We have a hunch that if Lawrence was portrayed as a mass-murdering psychopath, then there would be no objections to the strip from the Religious Right. But being shown as a hurting, sad individual facing the temporary end to his loving, committed relationship is unacceptable to them. The comic draws an image of a homosexual relationship that has all of the same promise and heartache as a heterosexual one. And perhaps what is more important, it shows how Lawrence remains accepted by the "P" family.

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Newspapers Which Suppressed the Comics

The Daily Courier of Prestcott AZ suppressed the comic strip by reprinting episodes from 6 months earlier. They have a print run of 13,650. There are probably other newspapers in North American which followed suit, but we have not been able to locate them.

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You can express your opinion on this development by surfing to the "For Better or For Worse." home page at: http://www.uexpress.com/cgi-bin/WebX?express-14@@.ee6b2da

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