How do religious zealots determined to terminate all rights afforded those they disagree with, have sworn to oppose and find reprehensible go about stopping them? They gather signatures to put an amendment on their state ballot proclaiming that they and all other religious people are being persecuted and need the protection of a constitutional amendment to protect them from these nefarious individuals and laws that impinge upon their religious freedoms. Let me introduce you to Focus on the Family.
Many of us tend to claim a state where we were born, raised or moved to at some time in our life. I’ve always claimed Colorado to be mine. While born in Kansas, I grew up, hit puberty, went through elementary, junior, senior high and college in this state and always thought I would grow old and die there. Maybe I still will—only God knows. And speaking of God….
Whether you believe in Him or not, it is of no import to me. I was not placed here on this earth to judge your religious belief systems. And if you have no religious beliefs or if they differ from mine, that, too, is of no import—to me and shouldn’t be of any importance to anyone else, either. But that cannot be said for a group that finds deep roots in my home state of Colorado, Focus on the Family.
Focus on the Family opened its Welcome Center in 1994 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and proclaims that over 3 million people have walked through their doors during the past two decades. They claim a passion—a passion that involves the family. Their family consists of a “husband and wife [who] are committed to loving and caring for one another for a lifetime.” And while this would lead one to believe that they might demand a couple to remain in a marriage despite the desire to divorce, this is really not their family focus. While they attempt to counsel couples, they readily admit that their church’s divorce rate is “comparable to that of the culture at large.” No, Focus on the Family is focused on that man and woman thing and as part of their core beliefs they trumpet the call to all Christians “to defend and protect God’s marriage design and to minister in Christ’s name to those who suffer the consequences of its brokenness.” (Emphasis added).
They proclaim it is their passion that “all people are of infinite value, regardless of age, development, appearance or ability” (original emphasis) but it is clear this value does not include gay marriage or any other partnership rights or any rights whatsoever for or between individuals of the same sex. These same-sex people are broken and their brokenness needs to be stopped. And this group intends to try, again, in my home state of Colorado, to stop the Gay!
As ashamed as I am to admit to this, in the early 1990s, Colorado passed a referendum, “Amendment 2,” an amendment to the Colorado state constitution that declared that all cities, towns and counties in the state could take no legislative, executive or judicial action to recognize gay and lesbian citizens as a protected class. Following a state trial court’s permanent injunction preventing the amendment from taking force and effect, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled it violative of the United States Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause finding that it could not withstand the strict scrutiny test that forms the basis of review of the Equal Protection Clause in the case brought before the Court.
It was appealed to the United States Supreme Court and in the decision of Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996), SCOTUS ruled in a 6-3 decision that “Amendment 2” couldn’t even withstand the simpler rational basis test let alone the strict scrutiny test asserted to apply by the Colorado Supreme Court. Justice Kennedy (the same Kennedy who wrote the majority opinion in Citizens United) wrote the majority opinion and Justices Scalia, Rehnquist and Thomas dissented. Kennedy rejected the State Court’s argument but found ‘Amendment 2′ to be unconstitutional declaring that under this amendment: “Homosexuals are forbidden the safeguards that others enjoy or may seek without constraint,” and implied that “Amendment 2” was created with “a desire to harm a politically unpopular group.”
So let’s pretend you are Focus on the Family–what do you do to get around this Supreme Court opinion that is keeping you from defending God’s marriage design and preventing you from fixing all this brokenness that is spreading across the United States? Flip it. Make it all about YOU and how YOU need to stop state government from interfering with YOUR religious freedom and YOUR religious organization. “It isn’t about the persecution of gays and their rights, it’s about persecution of family values and Focus on the Family’s basic religious tenets.
And so in March, 2012, after several prior attempts by other religious groups failed, Focus on the Family set about circulating petitions throughout Colorado seeking to place on the ballot an initiative stating that government may not directly or indirectly burden a person or organization by withholding benefits, assessing penalties or excluding a person or group from government programs or facilities.
Now just exactly what would that allow individuals and organization to do in my home state? Simply stated, any and every individual or organization could discriminate in the name of any purported religious belief against anyone. One could claim that their religious belief prevents them from distributing birth control. Anyone could refuse to provide food, clothing, housing or employment to ANYONE simply by claiming it is against their religious beliefs. Let your imagination be your guide. There is no limit to the discrimination-–racism—bigotry that this amendment would not support. No one would be safe and nothing would prevent the unGODly impact that this ballot measure will have on my home state and its citizens.
Dear Focus on the Family: You preach that we are all children of God, created in his image and yet, you are trying to make God in your own hate-filled image. You are attempting to quash all rights that the LGBT community and just about any other non-Christian believer have by claiming your religious freedoms are being attacked. No one is attacking you. This is a typical bullying tactic whereby the bully jumps up and down and paints the victim as the aggressor. This is and always will be about your hatred towards individuals and groups that are different from you. If the courts in Colorado are unable to stop you before November, than the citizens that I call my family need to rise up as one voice and stop you before you spread your bigotry ‘in the name of God.’ Amen.
For those that would like to help stop this attack and join the fight to keep this initiative off the November ballot, visit One-Colorado.org.