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Religion Last Updated: Aug 6th, 2008 - 00:30:18

Anti-gay politics continues to drive Don Wildmon�s American Family Association
By Bill Berkowitz
Online Journal Guest Writer

Aug 6, 2008, 00:10

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Two different -- yet ultimately interlinked -- issues relating to the �homosexual agenda� are agitating the folks at the Tupelo, Mississippi-based headquarters of Donald Wildmon�s American Family Association (AFA) these days. One is your basic AFA-sponsored boycott; the other, according to Wildmon, will determine the final outcome of America�s �culture wars.�

Wildmon is simultaneously leading an effort to boycott the fast food giant McDonald�s, and marshaling the troops in support of Proposition 8, a California ballot initiative that would reverse the state�s Supreme Court recent decision in support of gay marriage.

Why McDonalds? A short time back, the home of the Hamburger donated $20,000 to the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) in exchange for membership in the NGLCC and a seat on the group�s board of directors. That outraged Wildmon, the undisputed kingpin of calling boycotts against companies that might have a scent of gay-friendliness.

According to the Online Journal�s Mel Seezsholt, the �AFA asked McDonald�s to remove [the] McDonald�s name and logo from the . . . NGLCC Web site where [it] is listed as a �Corporate Partner and Organization Ally� of NGLCC. AFA also asked the burger-fries giant to remove the endorsement of NGLCC by Richard Ellis, Vice President of Communications, McDonald�s USA, from the NGLCC Web site. McDonald�s refused both requests.�

Ellis, VP of Communications for McDonald�s USA, who is openly homosexual, was given a seat on the NGLCC Board of Directors. He said that he was �thrilled to join the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and ready to go to work. I share the NGLCC�s passion for business growth and development within the LGBT community, and I look forward to playing a role in moving these important initiatives forward.�

�This boycott is not about hiring homosexuals, or homosexuals eating at McDonald�s or how homosexual employees are treated. It is about McDonald�s, as a corporation, choosing to put the full weight of their corporation behind promoting the homosexual agenda, including homosexual marriage,� said AFA chairman Donald E. Wildmon.

Finally, these warnings about the consequences of McDonald�s actions: From columnist Bob Unruh, writing for WorldNetDaily: �Your dollars for Happy Meals and Big Macs could end up paying for sex-change operations of McDonald�s employees if the home of the Golden Arches continues its promotion of homosexuality . . .�

From Peter LaBarbera, chief of Americans for Truth: �If McDonald�s restaurants and franchises . . . follow the small business advice of the company�s new homosexual partner -- the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), which received a $20,000 grant from McDonald�s -- there would be chaos.�

According to LaBarbera, a longtime foe of gay rights, the NGLCC recommends companies should �permit the [transsexual/cross-dressing] transitioning employee to use restrooms that correspond to his or her full-time gender presentation, regardless of where the individual is in the transitioning process.�

�In other words, if a �transgender man� or, say, employee at a McDonald�s believes his supposed �gender� is really a woman, so he wears a dress and high heels, he should be able to use the female restroom. That surely would do wonders for the productivity and workplace environment of female employees and customers at a small business, including all those local McDonald�s franchises!� LaBarbera said.

Prop.8�s big-time Christian backers

While the AFA�s boycott of McDonald�s is drawing some like-minded groups to the barricades, much of the organization�s anti-gay activity revolves around California, where Proposition 8 -- a measure to ban same-sex marriage -- is on the November ballot.

Proposition 8 -- the California Marriage Protection Act -- was originally titled �LIMIT ON MARRIAGE. CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT,� and read,

Amends the California Constitution to provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: The measure would have no fiscal effect on state or local governments. This is because there would be no change to the manner in which marriages are currently recognized by the state.

In a recent decision, the attorney general�s office changed the language to say that Proposition 8 seeks to �eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry.� The title of the initiative is now: �ELIMINATES RIGHT OF SAME-SEX COUPLES TO MARRY. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT,� and it reads,

Changes California Constitution to eliminate right of same-sex couples to marry. Provides that only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.�

Fiscal Impact: Over the next few years, potential revenue loss, mainly sales taxes, totaling in the several tens of millions of dollars, to state and local governments. In the long run, likely little fiscal impact to state and local governments.�

Doug Manchester, a San Diego businessman who owns at least three hotels -- San Diego�s glamorous Manchester Grand Hyatt and Grand Del Mar hotels, and the Whitetail Club and Resort in McCall, Idaho -- was a major donor to qualifying Proposition 8 for the ballot. Now, his hotels are the target of a boycott spearheaded by a group called Californians Against Hate.

Manchester, a devout Catholic, called his donations �a free-speech, First Amendment issue.� He pointed out that while he respects �everyone�s choice of partner, my Catholic faith and longtime affiliation with the Catholic Church leads me to believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman.� He also said that he welcomes LGBT guests to his hotels.

Backers of Proposition 8, chiefly sponsored by an organization called (website), has raised nearly $2.3 million (34 percent coming from out of state donors), while the opposition has raised about $1.3 million (44 percent from out of state). According to, other Southern California businessmen, in addition to Manchester, who are contributing to the Yes campaign include: financier Howard Ahmanson, Jr., the heir to a savings and loan fortune and longtime donor to conservative Christian causes has thus far ponied up $400,000; Mission Valley developer Terry Caster -- owner of A1 Self Storage -- and his family have donated $283,000; William Bolthouse, of Bolthouse Farms health-drink fame, donated $100,000; and Robert Hoehn, owner of Hoehn Motors in Carlsbad, has given $25,000.

The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization based in Connecticut, has given $250,000, while Dr. James Dobson�s Colorado Springs, Colorado-based Focus on the Family, a multi-million dollar religio-media empire, is among the top contributors so far in support of the measure, having donated $386,000.

�Our main beef [with Manchester] is the exhaustive amount of money he contributed with glee to take away this brand-new right and to write discrimination into the California Constitution for the very first time,� said Fred Karger of Californians Against Hate, a 501(c)(4) organization �I�m sick and tired of this,� he added. �These people motivated out of fear and hate.�

According to the Contra Costa Times, Frank Schubert, the president of Schubert Flint Public Affairs, a Sacramento-based consultant firm, who is managing the Proposition 8 campaign, �estimated that a full-throated television campaign for one week this fall in California would cost $5 million.� He pointed out that he thought that there would be no significant television advertisements before Labor day.

And, when the advertising blitz begins, Schubert is promising that it will be a kinder, gentler campaign: �There will not be any gay bashing in our campaign,� he said. �If other supporters try it, we will do everything we can to stop it.� It will be interesting to see how Schubert deals with Wildmon and Tony PerkinsFamily Research Council.

According to Wildmon, who has stated that the results from Proposition 8 will determine the outcome of the �culture wars,� �If we lose California, if they defeat the marriage amendment, I�m afraid that the culture war is over and Christians have lost. I�ve never said that publicly until now -- but that�s just the reality of the fact.�

Wildmon�s AFA recently sent an email hawking �Yes on Proposition 8� bumper stickers: �Proudly display your support for Proposition 8! Let everyone know you are taking a stand for marriage. Order your semi-permanent adhesive, glossy finish bumper stickers today! New material, easy to remove.� The organization hopes to distribute one-million bumper stickers over the course of the campaign.

On July 21, Perkins sent out an �Marriage Emergency Request,� which reminded supporters that �Traditional marriage is in grave peril across the nation due to outrageous decisions by activist judges and radical legislators in Massachusetts, California, Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Oregon.�

�If we don�t act now, counterfeit marriage will spread across America. Marriage amendments will be nullified. Pastors and churches will be silenced from speaking publicly against homosexuality. Your children will learn in school that homosexual behavior is normal and healthy.�

Although he doesn�t mention the name of the donor(s), Perkins points out that the FRC has been given �a $250,000 Matching Grant to help fight this battle and others.� Money donated will be matched and used to:

  • Educate the grassroots and government leaders.

  • Strategize with allies to multiply our impact.

  • Launch paid advertising and press events.

  • Alert and inform FRC�s powerful network of churches.

  • Flood TV, radio, newspapers, and the Internet with eye-opening interviews by FRC experts.

  • Launch influential mail and e-mail campaigns.

  • Register hundreds of thousands of voters.

New field poll shows Prop. 8 trailing

A recent California poll may move the schedule of Prop. 8 advocates up a bit: The Field Poll found that the initiative was losing by a 51 percent to 42 percent margin. �Starting out behind is usually an ominous sign for a proposition,� Mark DiCamillo, director of the nonpartisan poll, said. �Over 90 percent of propositions that start out behind get taken down.�

The poll results didn�t appear to shake up Schubert: �The Field Poll has consistently understated the support of Californians who believe the definition of marriage should be upheld,� Schubert said. �During Proposition 22, the Field Poll reported that support for that initiative was approximately 50 percent in the months leading up to the election, while the measure received more than 61 percent of votes at the ballot box,� Schubert noted.

�In May when Field was reporting that support for the initiative was at 40 percent, the Los Angeles Times survey found support at 54 percent. Over the years Field has consistently understated support for the initiative by a minimum of 10 percent. The current findings continue to substantially understate the true support for the initiative.�

The new poll -- conducted July 8 through July 14, based on surveys with 672 likely voters and has a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points -- found that Republicans support the initiative 68 percent to 27 percent while Democrats oppose it 63 percent to 30 percent. Nonpartisan and minor-party members came in at 66 percent opposed to 27 percent in support.

In early-July, reported that they had hired Jennifer Kerns, the owner of K Street Communications, as communications director for the statewide ballot initiative. Kerns �recently served as senior press secretary for California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner . . . [and] also served as communications director for his election campaign, helping Poizner successfully win the endorsements of all 37 major newspapers in California in his landslide election over sitting Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante,� reported, �She previously served as an Assistant Secretary of State and Spokeswoman in the office of Secretary of State Bruce McPherson, where she represented the State on Elections issues, crisis communications, voting system integrity, Special Elections, the 2005 Iraq elections, and more. Kerns has also successfully served various Congressional and Mayoral candidates throughout California, as well as members of the California State Legislature.�

�Jennifer is a valuable asset to the Yes on Proposition 8 team, whose experience with high-profile media efforts will be instrumental in the campaign to protect marriage,� said Jeff Flint, Co-Campaign Manager for the Initiative. �Her skills as an aggressive communicator, combined with her track record with the press, will be a tremendous addition to the team.�

Bill Berkowitz is a longtime observer of the conservative movement and a frequent writer for Media Transparency. He documents the strategies, players, institutions, victories and defeats of the American Right.

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