Focus on the Family has great name recognition as a fervently anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ organization. Success has its drawbacks though. Their campaign to virulently target gay marriage, and their hardline stance against reproductive rights has pushed away moderates. In response, a quiet plan to rebrand and infiltrate liberal circles was devised, and it’s working.
Across the country, Focus on the Family has set up small branches each with unique names. These Trojan horses are legally separate, having “used resources, data, and expertise to form their own autonomous groups,” according to a Focus on the Family PR person who declined to give her name. These “autonomous” groups, unlike their parent org, are able to endorse political candidates, and work on legislation.
Even in a state as stereotypically liberal as Connecticut, the plan is working. Under the banner of the friendly sounding ‘Family Institute of Connecticut’ a growing list of politicians are quietly gaining office posing as moderates. I called to ask the Family Institute of Connecticut why they endorsed my State Senator Art Linares, when he claims publicly to “like gay people.” The gruff man who answered the phone said, “well, this is a very liberal state and you can’t expect him to be open about his views.” In CT there are currently 30 members of the state legislature endorsed by FIC.
In states where Focus on the Family has set up these rebranded satellites, constituents are understandably not aware they hold the same vile views as the national org. This purposeful obfuscation has led to some very nefarious people making alliances with unsuspecting liberals. One successful wolf in sheep's clothing is the fight against assisted suicide.
In 2015, The Family Institute of Connecticut led by Peter Wolfgang was able to ally itself with Disability Rights activists to defeat a popular assisted suicide bill. Disability Rights grew out of the sixties counter culture, alliances with gay people, women, and other marginalized groups. If Focus on the Family hadn’t come up with its brilliant rebranding scheme, their alliances with Disability Rights advocates would never have been palatable to the community.
I asked several respected disability rights activists if they felt any reservations about leading people into working with a group that wants to amongst other things strip rights from their gay allies. Off the record I was told that the legislative success was “worth it.” It’s impossible to know how many people nationally in Disability Rights coalitions, medical practitioners, clergy and average citizens are being fooled into giving power to Focus on the Family on this issue and other seemingly benign causes like gambling, and bullying.
Click here to see the “independent groups” listed right on Focus on the Families website. When you see a friendly sounding ‘family’ group has put an endorsement next to your elected official’s name, now you know where they stand on reproductive freedom and LGBTQ rights.
By Being Liberal contributor: Sarah Ficca