Saturday, September 26, 2009
Focus on the Family Action (FOTFA), a political lobbying organization spearheaded by James Dobson to ban same-sex marriage and abortion, targeted the Evangelical Protestants that made up 23 percent of the U.S. electorate in 2004. Frustrated by previous Supreme Court decisions, Dobson began endorsing political candidates he thought would galvanize his religion-charged agenda. He appeared on TV talk shows such as ABC’s This Week and on Fox News to express his distaste for same-sex marriage, claiming that it exacerbated what he referred to as a ‘‘culture war.’’ Despite Dobson’s influence, President George W. Bush refused to screen Supreme Court appointees according to their position on same-sex marriage. Bush also condoned civil unions if the state law allowed it.
Leading up to the election, FOTFA organized mass voting drives intended to register at least 1 million voters. Latinos were targeted with paid radio programming that aired across Spanish radio. FOTFA sponsored groups called ‘‘family policy councils,’’ which operated in 35 locations throughout the United States. One such group based in Ohio even sponsored the initiative that eventually banned same-sex marriages in that state. Dobson’s personal efforts included barnstorming the battleground states in the months before the election. He urged Christians to ‘‘vote their values’’ at a rally titled ‘‘Mayday for Marriage’’ that FOTFA organized in Washington, D.C. More than 13 thousand Hispanic churches were sent mailers that outlined how the congregation should vote. Also the group donated some $60,000 to support an Oregon measure banning same-sex marriages. Many analysts credited FOTFA for Bush’s reelection, the placement of congressmen opposed to same-sex marriage, and the ousting of Democratic Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, who had previously blocked a vote on an amendment prohibiting gay marriage.