Who's who in the fight to repeal marriage equality
by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
Although NOM has sent two key operatives - Frank Schubert and Chris Plante - to Washington to mastermind the campaign to reject Referendum 74 and take away equal marriage rights for Gay and Lesbian couples, they are being ably assisted by a cast of supporting characters. This week we look at more of them.
A key local NOM ally is Joseph Backholm, chair of Preserve Marriage Washington and executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington (FPIW). Backholm not only ran the initiative campaign to put Referendum 74 on the ballot, challenging the state's Marriage Equality Act, but he also initiated the back-room negotiations that eventually resulted in forming Preserve Marriage Washington.
According to Mormons for Marriage, a pro-equality group, 'less than 24 hours after personally filing Referendum 74 with the Washington state attorney general's office, Joseph Backholm of the Family Policy Institute of Washington and John Paulton of Focus on the Family Action met with Mormon Church leaders in Washington. A staffer at the Family Policy Institute initially disclosed the meeting by phone, [and] the meeting was later confirmed directly by Joseph Backholm.'
Although he is now taking a backseat to NOM's Schubert and Plante, Backholm is every bit as determined to win. Asked by Publicola in an August interview if he was worried that NOM might not be able to keep their commitments to Preserve Marriage Washington, Backholm replied he would win by any means necessary.
'We will do what is necessary to win the campaign,' he said, 'and I'm not concerned with NOM specifically. There are lots of people involved with this, and there are lots of people working hard on this, and we'll do what it takes and we'll get there.'
While Backholm's organization, FPIW, presents itself as just another 'pro-family' organization, it is in fact the local affiliate of Focus on the Family, an anti-Gay hate group founded by James Dobson.
On its website, FPIW links to so-called 'Marriage Legislation Resources,' including documents containing typical anti-equality talking points, such as a list of classic horror stories about same-sex marriage and religious liberty.
Also linked on FPIW's 'Resources' page is an article by George Dent, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University, titled 'No Difference? An Analysis of Same-Sex Parenting.' The article contains a number of wild anti-Gay accusations, including the tired canards that Gay parents molest their children or coerce them into being Gay themselves.
According to PDC reports, FPIW's PAC, Family Policy Action, rents office space to Preserve Marriage and has also provided small in-kind donations to the campaign. Family Policy Action has also sent campaign contributions to a number of anti-equality, anti-choice Republican legislative candidates.
While not all groups that do business with Preserve Marriage share its anti-Gay, anti-equality views, several do, besides FPIW.
ActRight, a foundation based in Plainfield, Indiana, has provided Preserve Marriage $40,206 worth of services. Among other services, ActRight built and maintains the Preserve Marriage website.
Essentially a right-wing MoveOn.org, ActRight offers fundraising, publicity, and even legal advice to causes selected by its subscribers. Its political orientation is revealed by the logo on its website, 'Defeat Obama - Restore America - Gone 2012,' with the 'o' in 'Gone' rendered as the familiar Obama 'O.'
It claims to have raised $38,494 for Preserve Marriage Washington - somewhat less than it earned back in fees for its services. Other recipients of ActRight's largesse include Protect Marriage Maine, Minnesota for Marriage, CatholicVote.org, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown.
The 'top actions' ActRight promotes include 'Dump Starbucks for supporting same-sex marriage,' 'Send General Mills this message: Don't mess with marriage,' and 'Thank Chick Fil-A.'
Preserve Marriage also hired Gateway Communications, a Portland-based advertising and fundraising firm, to print its petitions. According to PDC documents, Gateway earned $5,925 for successive print orders. Gateway also specializes in telephone solicitation - mainly for evangelical charities such as Union Gospel Mission in Seattle - although Preserve Marriage did not hire the firm for that purpose.
THE RUTH INSTITUTE
Another organization associated with Preserve Marriage is the Ruth Institute, which uses the slogan 'One man, one woman, for life' on its website and describes itself as 'a project of the National Organization for Marriage.' PDC documents reveal that Preserve Marriage purchased $509.80 worth of 'educational material' from the institute.
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