Don Wildmon vs. Ronald McDonald: The American Family Association�s latest holy war
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Jul 15, 2008, 00:20

The Christianist Right�s boycott king is at it again. On July 2, the chairman of the American Family Association, Don Wildmon, issued one of his hysterical �Action Alerts�:

McDonald�s refuses request to be neutral in culture war

TUPELO, MS -- McDonald�s has told American Family Association (AFA) that it will not stop supporting groups promoting homosexual marriage. AFA is asking its supporters to boycott the restaurant chain.

AFA asked McDonald�s to remove McDonald�s name and logo from the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) Web site where McDonald�s 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.

McDonald�s donated $20,000 to NGLCC in exchange for membership in the NGLCC and a seat on the group�s board of directors. The NGLCC lobbies Congress on a wide range of issues including the promotion of homosexual marriage.

�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.

Pat Harris, Global Chief Diversity Officer, Vice President, Inclusion & Diversity at McDonald�s, told AFA the company would �reaffirm our position on diversity.�

Ellis, who is openly homosexual, was given a seat on the NGLCC Board of Directors. Ellis is VP of Communications for McDonald�s USA. He was quoted as saying: �I�m 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.� [italics added]

On July 3, AFA posted its boycott petition. Again Wildmon accused the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce of promoting �the homosexual agenda, including homosexual marriage� despite a total lack of evidence.

In both cases, Wildmon and the American Family Association were far less than truthful, as the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce politely pointed out in its response:

When the American Family Association took issue with McDonald�s for its sponsorship of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, what was missing from the group�s assault were the facts.

A company�s decision to become a corporate partner doesn�t reflect its entrance into the so-called �culture wars,� as the conservative AFA suggested, but rather its commitment to diversity in the workplace and in its supplier relationships. [Related link: �McDonald�s gay marriage flap,� CNN video]

And the NGLCC is not on a mission of extreme social activism but rather focuses on economic advocacy and equality for the 1.4 million businesses owned by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons in the United States.

To correct the record, the NGLCC sent a letter July 8 to Dr. Donald Wildmon, the AFA�s chairman, clarifying the NGLCC�s mission and the importance of its efforts on behalf of small businesses.

Sending that letter was appropriate, but moot. Anything -- anything -- that would benefit in any way gay and lesbian Americans, their families, or the gay community in general is anathema to Wildmon and his American Family Association. Schadenfreude defines them. It drives them. They hide behind religion and use labels such as �family values� to justify their pathological need to hurt people and families. In this case, those who work for minimum wages at McDonald�s.

The NGLCC mission is clearly stated on their website. A thorough reading of all the material on their website documents that NGLCC does not advocate �social agendas� and that there is not one mention of �homosexual marriage,� only business-related concerns and matters.

Clearly, Wildmon was intentionally distorting facts -- and making up others -- in order to mislead for his own nefarious purposes and to satisfy his own pathological needs. What�s also obvious is that Wildmon and the AFA -- in true Rovian fashion -- are trying once again to set American against American in order to encourage discrimination and the hate that underwrites it. In that endeavor they have company: �Conservative political commentator Fred Barnes is advising Republican presidential hopeful Senator John McCain to exploit gay issues as a strategy to win the White House in the fall election . . .�

Gary Bauer, whose 2000 presidential bid gave new meaning to �lead balloon,� is also urging the politics of divisiveness and discrimination:

A former Republican presidential candidate says the issue of homosexual marriage could save the GOP again on Election Day like it did in 2004. . . .

In a recent column for, Gary Bauer says the [state] marriage amendments helped get President Bush and other conservative candidates elected and drove to the polls many voters who otherwise might have stayed home. . . .

Ignoring homosexual marriage, says Bauer, would be �incredibly destructive� for the Republican Party. �In fact, the evidence is very clear that defending marriage as the union of one man and one woman is a much more politically popular position to take than some of the other things on the Republican agenda that I happen to support but which, in some cases, the American people are very divided over . . . ,� adds Bauer.

On the issue of homosexual marriage, Bauer says the people are not divided. [link added]

Apparently Barnes and Bauer have their heads in the same dark closet as Wildmon:

A recent Values and Beliefs poll by opinion group Gallup shows increasing approval of gays and lesbians. In particular, the poll found near universal support of equal rights for gays in terms of job opportunities (89 percent) and a majority accept homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle (57 percent). . . .

The poll shows that winning conservative voters located mainly in the Bible Belt with gay issues while appealing to moderates throughout the remaining states would prove difficult.

And then there�s this:

63 percent say gay marriage is a choice
Jun. 3, 2008 04:46 PM
USA Today

Six in ten Americans say the government should not regulate whether gays and lesbians can wed the persons they choose, a new survey finds.

As same-sex couples start lining up to get marriage licenses in California on June 17, the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll found 63 percent of adults say same-sex marriage is �strictly a private decision� between two people.

Patrick Sammon, president of Log Cabin Republicans, an organization working to make the GOP more inclusive on gay and lesbian issues, responded to Bauer�s call to divisive politics in a July 1 article:

In his Ideas piece for Tuesday�s Politico, �Can gay marriage save the GOP again?� former presidential candidate Gary Bauer makes misleading and inaccurate claims. Bauer argues that the issue of gay marriage helped catapult the GOP to electoral success in 2004 and directly led to President Bush�s reelection. But that theory, long rumored in the aftermath of the 2004 election, has been disproved. . . .

Matthew Dowd, Bush�s chief strategist in 2004, says the marriage issue was not the reason Bush won reelection. The New York Times quotes Dowd as saying, �At best, it doesn�t move voters, and at worst for Republicans, it moves them against them. Not so much on the issue, but it becomes, �Why are we having a discussion on this issue when we should be talking about things that matter, like the economy, or health care or the war?��

Even so, Bauer�s argument doesn�t hold water, because 2008 is not 2004. The politics surrounding marriage are changing quickly. In 2006, the five Republicans who used marriage most prominently as a wedge issue all lost. Sens. Rick Santorum (Pa.) and George Allen (Va.), Reps. John Hostetler (Ind.) and Anne Northup (Ky.), and Ken Blackwell (in his race for Ohio governor) tried to win with anti-gay campaign tactics. . . .

Support for marriage equality is growing. Pew Forum polling shows a 6 percent increase in support for marriage equality in the past four years. A recent Field poll in California showed 54 percent of respondents opposing an anti-marriage constitutional amendment that will be on the ballot in November -- an initiative Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger opposes. And many who oppose marriage equality support civil unions -- nationwide, combined support for allowing marriage or civil unions for gay and lesbian couples approaches 60 percent. It�s only a matter of time before the law treats all families equally.

Acceptance of loving, committed gay and lesbian couples is on the rise and, consequently, the marriage debate does not have the same heat it used to. Republicans who try exploiting the issue for political gain this November will fail. And they�ll further alienate the young people who are already leaving the GOP in droves. [link added]

Not surprisingly, Bauer has endorsed John McCain for president. The Arizona senator is also opposed to equality for all Americans.

Like James Dobson�s Focus on the Family and Lou Sheldon�s Traditional Values Coalition, Wildmon�s American Family Association claims to be �pro-family� and to advocate �traditional values.� Yet they obsessively work to hurt gay and lesbian Americans and their families and advance the �values� of discrimination and hate. In the process, they are also lining their coffers. Truth Wins Out founder Wayne Besen�s July 9, 2008 articleAnything But Straight: The Pro-Family Scheme� further exposed the pathology, the ruse and the scam:

The last few weeks have shown that so-called pro-family organizations are some of the most useless, money-sucking scams in the world. With real families suffering from economic hardship in America, a declining birthrate in Europe and Google doubling the price of daycare for employees, the only thing right wing family groups want to discuss is their bizarre and all-encompassing fagela fetish. . . .

�Evangelicals of the older generation have become obsessed in almost a technical psychological sense in opposing gay rights,� David Weddle, a professor of religion at Colorado College told the Colorado Springs Gazette. �The irony is that homosexuality is not a biblical theme.�

Right wing organizations and their flocks want to be taken seriously, but their priorities and actions are reprehensible. . . .

The Wall Street Wonder, Google, plans to raise the amount it charged for in-house day care by 75 percent. Under the revised plan, parents with two children in Google day care could see their yearly bill increase to more than $57,000 from around $33,000. This crushing blow to the family drove a few employees to tears.

Was the American Family Association in Silicon Valley raising hell and standing up for families? No, they ignored grimacing parents, so they could punish Ronald and Grimace by launching a boycott against McDonalds for supposedly having a gay agenda. Maybe the delusional scolds at the AFA thought they saw rainbow color fries, in much the same way they once accused the cartoon character Mighty Mouse of snorting cocaine.

Right wing organizations can be considered many things -- but certainly not advocates for the family. They inhale money, exhale anti-gay pollution and have done absolutely nothing for the traditional families they claim to represent.

Why are some Americans so willing to buy into Wildmon�s delusions and support his anti-family, anti-human activities? Why Wildmon blusters and claims to be defending �God� and morality is clear: just follow the money trail. From Bill Berkowitz�s article �Still Cranky After All These Years�:

Funding the Wildmon family

According to AFA�s 2005 IRS 990 (its tax return), founder Donald E. Wildmon received about $110,000 with benefits, plus over $30,000 in expense account and other allowances -- including a housing allowance of over $31,000. AFA president Tim Wildmon got about $100,000, and the organization�s secretary, Forrest Daniels, received slightly more than $80,000.

The organization gives �scholarships� to any full time employee at �any accredited college or university,� which added up to about $54,000 in scholarships. As the blog Kevin�s Space pointed out on March 30, �the kids of these people get their university education paid for, with funds that are donated, supposed to fight for the family. But it is clear the people who benefit are the Wildmon family.�

AFA�s tax return also revealed that it paid over $26,000 to Neal Clement (Wildmon�s son-in-law), while at the same time it held stock in a company represented by him, the FSC Securities Corporation. . . . Kevin�s Space [also] reported . . .�Their [AFA�s] 2003 return states that they [held] just over $1.6 million worth of stock in FSC Securities Corporation. They also paid $33,000 to the LTD Computer Services, which is owned and operated by Larry Durham (Wildmon�s brother-in-law). [italics added]

One can only assume that Wildmon�s income, allowances and other benefits -- and those of his son et al -- have increased significantly since 2005. Do the sheeple who donate to AFA know they are paying for the college education of an AFA employee�s kid? Do they know how financially incestuous AFA is?

Since the American Family Association is in a twist about the legitimate business practices of McDonald�s and the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and since AFA is �a multi-million dollar� business, it seems only fair that AFA make public a list of its business partners and corporate sponsors.

Perhaps some people would like to boycott companies that fund those who make a living -- and live large -- by advocating discrimination and hurting families.

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