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Morris defends stance in apology for letter


– Days after his opposition to a resolution honoring the Girl Scouts went viral, Rep. Bob Morris, R-Fort Wayne, apologized for his remarks but stood by his decision not to sign the resolution.

In a written statement, Morris said he was able to reflect on his previous letter, which called the Girl Scouts a "radicalized organization" that supports abortion and promotes "homosexual lifestyles."

"I realize now that my words were emotional, reactionary and inflammatory," he wrote on Thursday. "For that I sincerely apologize. … I certainly should not have painted the entire Girl Scouts organization with such a wide brush."

Morris said his previous letter was simply trying to explain his reasons for not signing the resolution, which was honoring the group's centennial anniversary. He said the letter was intended for his legislative colleagues, which is the reason for the "lack of research and evidence it contained."

"Had I known this letter would have gone to a wider audience, I would have cited further evidence for my position," he said.

Morris said he never should have written the original letter, but he said he would still not sign the resolution honoring the Girl Scouts because of the policies of its national organization.

"My conscience would not allow me to publicly endorse an organization that partners with Planned Parenthood – our state's leading abortion provider," he wrote.

The Girl Scouts of USA denied having any relationship with Planned Parenthood. Morris in his Thursday statement cited a March 5, 2004, interview with Kathy Cloninger, Girl Scouts CEO, where she said the Scouts organization partners with Planned Parenthood with regard to sex education.

"If the Girl Scouts USA now denies the statement of its CEO, I challenge the organization to do so publicly so that individuals are not confused as to the organization's ties to Planned Parenthood," he said.

Morris further wrote that Girl Scouts are the founding member of an organization that promotes sex education and access to contraception and other sexual and reproductive health services for young people.

"I cannot, in good conscience, honor an organization that supports such policies," he wrote.

Michelle Tompkins, spokeswoman for the Girl Scouts, provided a short statement accepting Morris' apology.

"On behalf of all Girl Scouts, we accept the apology of Representative Morris. We appreciate that the representative has seen the error of his ways, and we agree that it's time to move on to more important issues."

The prepared statement did not address Morris' accusation that the group is associated with Planned Parenthood.

Morris ended his statement by saying he hoped it would end the publicity regarding his original letter so he can move on to more important issues of state policy.