As donations fall and jobs are cut, are Focus on the Family’s days of using gay rights as a wedge issue finished?
By Sarah Seltzer
September 19, 2011
When George W. Bush defeated John Kerry for the presidency in 2004, pundits claimed that the wedge issue of gay marriage–up for popular vote in many a state that went “red”–had been a deciding factor, the boogeyman reason many middle American types couldn’t commit to a Democrat.
At the time, gay marriage felt like a third rail, and a hopeless one. Prominent right-wing groups like Focus on the Family and its allies seemed successful in their efforts to “otherize” LGBTQ Americans and use bigotry and fear to prevent progress.
Fast-forward to today and the situation has become almost the opposite. Affable, non-confrontational Jay Leno is (affably) hounding Michele Bachmann for her opposition to gay rights, “dont’ ask don’t tell” is due to expire tomorrow with nary a credible protest, and the GOP field is avoiding discussing gay rights in debates.
In this climate, Focus on the Family is experiencing a record plummet in donations–by $15 million dollars–which has led it to yet another round of layoffs (it let 202 people go in 2008) with its leader admitting a diminishing influence on acceptance of gays.
Conservative Christian ministry Focus on the Family announced today it is eliminating 49 jobs in the latest of several rounds of layoffs in response to ongoing economic pressures.
The family-counseling center in Colorado Springs had a $105 million budget this fiscal year ending Sept. 30, but officials project it will receive donations of only $90 million to $95 million.