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Analysis Finds ‘Marriage Protection Week’ Co-Sponsors Have Little Interest in Building Strong & Healthy Marriages

Date: 
October 17, 2003

Sponsoring Groups Have Disproportionate Fixation on Homosexuality

Resources of Anti-Gay Groups Dwarf those of Gay Advocacy Organizations

Contrary to President's Proclamation, 'Marriage Protection Week' Has No Focus Whatsoever on Building Strong and Healthy Marriages

New York City, October 16, 2003 - An analysis released today shows that the organizations sponsoring "Marriage Protection Week" disproportionately focus on homosexuality compared to issues with far greater impact on marriage and family life, that the resources of these organizations dwarf those of the supposedly "rich and powerful gay lobby," and that contrary to an October 3 official proclamation by President Bush, the planned activities of "Marriage Protection Week" have no focus whatsoever on building strong and healthy marriages. The analysis was prepared by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute, the gay community's think tank.

"The hypocrisy of the organizations sponsoring this so-called 'Marriage Protection Week' is stunning," said Matt Foreman, Executive Director of the Task Force. "They feign commitment to strong marriages and families. In reality, they are fixated on attacking gay and lesbian people while largely ignoring the real problems facing married couples and American families."

A coalition of 29 conservative political and religious organizations is sponsoring "Marriage Protection Week," (MPW) from October 12 to 18, 2003. The organizations include the National Religious Broadcasters, Focus on the Family, which has an annual budget of $126 million, and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the official ministry of the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's second largest religious denomination. The co-sponsors plan to reach millions of Americans during the week through events at thousands of churches, programs on Christian television stations, and a network of several hundred radio stations. On October 3, President Bush issued an official proclamation in support of the week.

The analysis looked at website content of nine of the sponsoring organizations with search engines and found that documents containing the word "homosexual" far exceeded those discussing topics such as divorce, health insurance, domestic violence, child abuse or poverty. The web sites of nine of the co-sponsoring organizations have a total of 2,369 documents containing the word "homosexual," but only 1,423 that contain the word "divorce", 952 with "health care," 832 with "poverty," 207 with "health insurance," 190 with "domestic violence," and 85 with "child support."

For example, Concerned Women for America (CWA), a $12 million-a-year "public policy women's organization," has 602 documents that contain the word homosexual, more than double the number of documents that have the word "divorce," "health care," "poverty," "domestic violence," " or "child support" combined. The only issue with a greater number of references is "abortion," which the organization believes to be the equivalent of murder and seeks to outlaw.

The analysis also found that -- contrary to the repeated assertions of the sponsoring organizations -- their resources dwarf those of the nation's leading gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender advocacy organizations. The Task Force was able to obtain recent income information for 13 of the 29 organizations co-sponsoring "Marriage Protection Week." The combined income of just those 13 groups was $217 million, outstripping the combined income of the 13 largest national gay advocacy organizations - just $54 million -- by a margin of more than four to one.

"These facts turn the myth of the 'rich and powerful gay lobby' on its head," said Sean Cahill, Ph.D., Director of the Task Force Policy Institute. "This is Goliath vs. David multiplied exponentially. This is rich and politically-connected organizations using their immense power to try to scapegoat and hurt a stigmatized minority."

The analysis noted that income data was not available for 16 of the week's sponsors, including several with enormous resources and clout, such as Bott Broadcasting, which owns at least 28 radio stations, and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's second largest denomination.

Finally, the analysis found that contrary to President Bush's October 3, 2003 proclamation, there is no focus at all in the week's planned activities on building strong and healthy marriages. (President Bush's proclamation states that the week "provides an opportunity to focus our efforts on preserving the sanctity of marriage and on building strong and healthy marriages.") Instead, all of the publicly announced and suggested activities focus exclusively on the supposed threat that the effort to win equal civil marriage rights for gay couples poses to the institution of marriage. For example, participants are urged to contact their U.S. Senators and Members of Congress urging them to support amending the U.S. Constitution to prohibit the recognition of same-sex marriages, and to prohibit any court from interpreting any statute to extend benefits to unmarried couples. The week's sponsors also urge the use of two model sermons, both of which are replete with inflammatory anti-gay language but devoid of references to building strong marriages. Finally, elected officials are being asked to sign a pledge not to support even the most basic forms of partner recognition, such as hospital visitation rights or health insurance coverage.

"This is another chilling example of the disingenuous but brilliant tactic of the Bush Administration - the President speaks in kind and gentle language while what is really being encouraged is divisive and ugly," Foreman said.

The Marriage Protection Week analysis can be found in the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force publications library.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.