In his WND column June 7 (“Have conservatives lost same-sex marriage debate?”), Josh Craddock takes on Focus on the Family for giving up the fight for marriage, but he gets important facts wrong.
Craddock writes that back in 1992, during the campaign in Colorado for Amendment 2, Focus adopted the unwise slogan “Equal rights, not special rights,” applying to homosexuality, and that in the years since the slogan has led to a great weakening in the support for traditional marriage.
There’s a slight problem with that hypothesis: We didn’t come up with the slogan. Amendment 2 was launched not by Focus, but by a grass-roots Colorado group named Colorado for Family Values, and headed by a Colorado Springs car dealer named Will Perkins. By the time Focus moved to Colorado from Los Angeles in late 1991 and lent its support to Amendment 2, the campaign was well under way.
It seems a stretch for Craddock to lay the blame for same-sex marriage on a slogan used 20 years ago, years before the first campaigns for same-sex marriage were fully waged. It is the courts, not the slogans, that broke ground for same-sex marriage.
Craddock is fair in criticizing us for our response made nearly two years ago to a reporter’s question about a hypothetical homosexual nominee to a federal court. We didn’t get that one it right, and we corrected the record as best we could.
Finally Craddock finds fault with Focus President Jim Daly’s statement, in World magazine, about the mounting support for same-sex marriage among younger people. It is important to note that the interview in World was the result of a 90-minute presentation to The King’s College students, all boiled down to 1,200 words to fit on one page of the magazine. We understand how, in that severe editing process, contextual comments can get left on the cutting-room floor. But to get a better idea of the fullness to Jim’s answer to the question posed to him about the culture’s views on abortion and same-sex marriage, here’s all that he said: the entire King’s College presentation.
Said Daly: “I think especially when it comes to the issue of same-sex marriage, if we’re winning on life, we’re losing on that one, especially among the 20- and 30-somethings. It’s just plain and simple. You look at the demographics and the research numbers, if over 40 is 60 percent in favor of traditional marriage, under 40 is 65-70 percent in favor of same-sex marriage. So I don’t know if that’s going to change with a little more age – demographers would say probably not. We’ve probably lost that.
“I don’t want to be extremist here, but I think we need to start calculating where we are in the culture. Even though Focus on the Family has been very engaged with the defense of marriage bills in 31 states – and we’ve won collectively, with the help of church leaders – but 31 of those 31 ballot initiatives have passed in favor of traditional marriage. So, it’s something odd. It seems like the people get it and support it, but the elite culture still wants to continue this agenda.”
He added, after exhorting the church to do a better job of modeling biblical marriage to the culture: “So I think what we’ve got to do is we’ve got to stay true, we’ve got to look at our own house, make sure that our marriages are healthy, and that we’re being a good witness to the world, and then continue to work on defending marriage as best as we can.”
These comments, understood in context, are a caution to the church, not a concession to the culture.
When Jim Daly became president of Focus on the Family in 2005, he declared, and has been declaring ever since, that the founding principles upon which Dr. James Dobson built the ministry will remain intact, and they have so remained.
Tom Minnery is senior vice president of Government and Public Policy for Focus on the Family.