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Edwards's pro-gay
bloggers regret critical posts

Edwards's pro-gay
bloggers regret critical posts

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards said Thursday he was personally offended by the provocative messages two of his campaign bloggers wrote criticizing the Catholic Church, but he's not firing them.

Edwards issued a written statement about the fate of Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan two days after the head of the conservative Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights demanded they be fired for messages they wrote before working on the campaign. The campaign distributed written apologies from the two women, who stressed they were writing on personal blogs and not on behalf of the campaign. Edwards said he believes in giving everyone a ''fair shake.''

''I've talked to Amanda and Melissa; they have both assured me that it was never their intention to malign anyone's faith, and I take them at their word,'' Edwards said.

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, cited posts the women made on blogs in the past several months in which they criticized the church's opposition to homosexuality, abortion, and contraception, sometimes using profanity.

''The tone and the sentiment of some of Amanda Marcotte's and Melissa McEwan's posts personally offended me,'' Edwards's statement read. ''It's not how I talk to people, and it's not how I expect the people who work for me to talk to people. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that kind of intolerant language will not be permitted from anyone on my campaign, whether it's intended as satire, humor, or anything else.''

The Edwards campaign did not immediately respond to requests for further comment beyond the written statement. Edwards remained silent for two days as he considered whether to keep the bloggers and the controversy grew on the Internet. The pair started working for him last week as part of his outreach to liberal voters and activists on the Internet.

Marcotte also did not comment publicly until the campaign's statement was released. McEwan defended herself Tuesday in a two-sentence posting on her blog, Shakespeare's Sister, that noted her vote for 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.

''I'm not going to say a lot about this right now, but suffice it to say that the fact I cast a vote, without hesitation, for a Catholic during the last presidential election might suggest I'm not anti-Catholic,'' her post read. ''My degree from Loyola University might also suggest the same.''

McEwan also posted the statement that the Edwards campaign distributed on Shakespeare's Sister on Thursday. Her portion said she doesn't expect Edwards to agree with everything she's posted, but they share ''an unwavering support of religious freedom and a deep respect for diverse beliefs. It has never been my intention to disparage people's individual faith, and I'm sorry if my words were taken in that way,'' McEwan's statement said.

Marcotte's statement said her writings on religion on her blog, Pandagon, are generally satirical criticisms of public policies and politics. ''My intention is never to offend anyone for his or her personal beliefs, and I am sorry if anyone was personally offended by writings meant only as criticisms of public politics,'' Marcotte said. ''Freedom of religion and freedom of expression are central rights, and the sum of my personal writings is a testament to this fact.''

The Catholic League counts its membership at nearly 350,000. Donohue is a frequent critic of those who speak out against the church and of what he calls ''political correctness run amok,'' such as the separation of Christmas and the holiday season. Donohue also doesn't shy away from using blunt language at times in his criticism of gays, Hollywood's control by ''secular Jews who hate Christianity,'' and even the Edwards bloggers, whom he referred to as ''brats'' in an interview Wednesday on MSNBC. (AP)

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