Focus on the Family Knows They’ve “Lost” Gay Marriage, Keeps Fighting For the Thrill of the Fight

As we mentioned yesterday in light of the sad news in Minnesota, Focus on the Family’s president has recently admitted in interviews that he sees his organization losing the fight on gay marriage.

We’re losing on that one, especially among the 20- and 30-somethings: 65 to 70 percent of them favor same-sex marriage. 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.


This seems like big news, no? Focus on the Family is only one organization fighting against marriage equality – it’s possible that the American Family Association and NOM would vehemently deny this statement – but they’re not a minor one, either. So what does his announcement mean? Well, here’s the rest of his organizations’ take on it:

“Jim was asked a question in an interview and honestly acknowledged what the cultural trend is in polling on same-sex marriage, especially among younger Americans. Some commentators have treated his answer as big news, but it’s really just another expression of what he’s been saying for years: Christians can’t expect the culture to be the church. As followers of Christ, and believers in God’s Word, we are called to speak the truth in love, and advocate for it respectfully in public policy, regardless of opinion polls or shifting political winds.

“America’s changing attitudes on same-sex marriage, as Jim also told World, should not discourage Christians. Through our sister organization, CitizenLink, we will continue to advance marriage-protection amendments and legislation, encouraged by the fact that voters in 31 states have defended marriage at the ballot box. Beyond the realm of policy, though, we hope this moment in time will be embraced by Christians as an opportunity to do a better job modeling the beauty and permanence of one-man, one-woman marriage. By strengthening our own marriages, and those in our faith communities, we offer strength to the culture.”

It doesn’t seem like overstating the issue to say that there are some contradictory statements here. Clearly, the overriding theme is of faith and witnessing in the political realm; the idea of working for a political aim that you feel your faith calls you to, even if you don’t know that it will be achieved, is plainly stated, and not unrelatable.

I guess it’s understandable that, even given their president’s reservations, they plan to continue with this fight – belief in the face of unreliable odds is, of course, what faith is. But questions remain.

Perhaps the first and most obvious thing: “Christians can’t expect the culture to be the church?” Of course there are millions of Christians in America who fully understand and respect the separation of church and state, but none of those seem to be the Christians in charge of any of the organizations leading the fight against marriage equality. One of the only defendant witnesses in the Prop 8 trial – whose job was to provide legally sound testimony as to why the government sanction of gay unions would be detrimental to the country – was William Hak-shing Tam, head of the America Return To God Prayer Movement. The campaign that he worked on along with Protect Marriage, was funded in large part by the Mormon church. That seems like more than an expectation of national church culture – it seems like it’s been made a reality.

And then there’s the “calling to speak the truth in love,” which is a genuinely admirable and courageous task to undertake, one that we should commend anyone of any faith or background for pursuing. Except that hasn’t been done in this case, ever. William Tam told members of his church that homosexuals were twelve times more likely to molest children than straight people, and then admitted in court that he had no basis for believing it. Blatantly untrue information was disseminated as fact by anti-gay organizations, telling parents that their children would be required to “learn gay marriage in school” if laws like Prop 8 weren’t upheld. In actuality, there was never any language on the ballots at the time at all about public school curriculum. (Although sidenote, there is now!) But looking at ads like this, you would never have known it.

There is one part of Focus on the Family’s statement, though, that rings true, and that I hope their followers are genuinely committed to. “Beyond the realm of policy, though, we hope this moment in time will be embraced by Christians as an opportunity to do a better job modeling the beauty and permanence of one-man, one-woman marriage. By strengthening our own marriages, and those in our faith communities, we offer strength to the culture.” To be honest, that’s something I think many of us have wondered over the years – who are these people who are so committed to making sure we can’t enjoy the same security of family life that they do? Don’t they have families? Aren’t there children they should be watching grow up instead of spending their time making sure other children feel ashamed and confused about their families? For all of our sake, let’s hope that committed heterosexual Christian couples do try to do a better job modeling the beauty and permanence that marriage can convey on a relationship; let’s hope that they do resolve to strengthen marriage, and offer strength to the community. Maybe in doing so, they’ll realize that when one marriage and one family are stronger and safer, it makes all of us stronger and safer. And that goes for our queer families, too.

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. That little girl was so excited about marrying a princess, I don’t understand why her mom was so sad. I mean, it’s obvious that it made her daughter happy. What’s wrong with that?

  2. Nothing like disgruntled old white men to uphold cliches of stereotypical homophobia.

    I so wanna read ‘King and King’ too. :P

  3. I want to know what the heck the mother was about to say to justify her bigotry after leaning in to fix the situation. And to watch that kid Ockham’s razor that shit up.

  4. Pingback: Christian groups admits defeat in battle against gay marriage –

  5. Aww, I wanted the marry the princess at that age too. Belle, specifically, she was my post-Ariel crush.

    Old white conservative guy, some of us have always wanted to the marry the princess, before we even knew what that meant.

    • Or be best best best friends with the princess and be around her all the time forever, because she was so amazingly awesome.

      Maybe we should make this the definition of marriage.

  6. “As followers of Christ, and believers in God’s Word, we are called to speak the truth in love, and advocate for it respectfully in public policy, regardless of opinion polls or shifting political winds.”

    Uh, my dad’s a member of Focus on the Family; he’s given lots and lots of money to them over the years and so my last name is probably on their list of valued members or whatever (yeah, this is not a happy issue between Dad and I) and so I can say, as someone who has received many, many pieces of their mailings over the years, that there is nothing RESPECTFUL about their anti-marriage equality campaigns.

  7. There is also nothing true or right about the co-opting of the word ‘Christians’, as if they are one big homogenous group. This is the bane of my existence! There are all kinds of folks who feel themselves to be on a ‘christian path’, and many of them think LGBTQ folks are one of the many ways God shows true genius, beauty, creativity, and divine courage in creating alll the colors of the rainbow, and also, in really trying to create fellow co-creators by making us FREE. Free to be you and me. Amen and thank you, Rachel, for a great article! I like your final words best.

    • I just love your quote about “…one of the many ways God shows true genius, beauty, creativity, and divine courage in creating all the colors of the rainbow…” I think I’ll go send that to my girlfriend. We’re both queer Christians, and always have a hard time with our fellow Christians.

  8. fifty bucks says the little girl in that ad turns out to be glbtqietc in some way

  9. Pingback: Young Conservative: Don’t Count Us Out of Marriage Debate – Christian Post

  10. Damn. The mom in the ad is really attractive. You guys, I’ll take one for the team and show her how epic gay sex is and then she will be all for gay marriage. It’ll be harsh, but I think I can do it.

  11. Where are people getting comments about a little girl wanting to marry a princess? That’s not in the article anywhere…? But I will say, as a child I never wanted to marry a princess. But I remember VERY distinctly sitting in the family car, looking out the window wondering what the man I’d marry would be like — as in, I couldn’t even imagine marrying a guy. It seemed so unusual, yet so inevitable to me. I really wish I was one of those kids that was totally outwardly gay from the time they were a child. Might’ve been easier. Like my cousin — he was calling Danny Zucco from Grease dreamy since he was like 5 years old.

    • Oh wait, it was in that horribly-produced, awkward TV ad. The mom’s reaction to the book is hilarious. “WHAT? … Hmm. … Geez.”

  12. Pingback: What’s the focus of Focus on the Family? – Washington Post (blog)

  13. I am very proud to be a christian and as long as God reigns I will keep his commandments and I will never support marriage equality.

    • Dear BLS,
      Please don’t selectively interpret the Bible. At least justify yourself.

      Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a radio personality who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. Recently, she said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22 and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by a east coast resident, which was posted on the Internet. It’s funny, as well as informative:

      Dear Dr. Laura:

      Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them:

      When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

      I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

      I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15:19- 24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

      Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

      I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

      A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination – Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this?

      Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

      Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

      I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

      My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? – Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

      I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

      Your devoted fan,

  14. My 66 year old grandpa used to be ridiculously homophobic. He would have completely been for these anti-gay people. Besides my uncle, my Pop never knew any gay people (my uncle is hard to get along with regardless of his sexuality). I came out about three years ago and this weekend he said that he was glad that my girlfriend and I had each other and could be happy. He said every one should be happy like us, no matter what. Translated from my stoic, once-homophobic grandpa that means, “Gay people are alright with me!” I was so proud of him!

    • My Pop-pop is the same way, except he’s never known any gay people in our family.
      I accidentally came out to him last weekend- he enjoys baiting me politically (I’m very liberal, he thinks Fox News is the best thing ever) and he was insinuating gay people weren’t humans. My response (I was getting angry at this point): Oh, so I’m not human?
      Oops. He got over it after drinking himself into oblivion that night and is at least okay with me being into women, though not a supporter of gay rights as a whole. He even said he’d be okay with it if I wanted to spend my life with a woman.
      Big step for him. I love spreading my beliefs through my family.

  15. “Beyond the realm of policy, though, we hope this moment in time will be embraced by Christians as an opportunity to do a better job modeling the beauty and permanence of one-man, one-woman marriage.”

    What, are they going to work to outlaw divorce as well? Because personally, I think that is a better opportunity to model the permanence of marriage.
    Just sayin’.

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