The arrest of two lesbians who refused to leave Focus on the Family headquarters this week is a first in what organizers vow will be ongoing direct actions at the Colorado Springs ministry for months to come.
“I would hope for events weekly, but that will play out over time,” says Christopher Hubble, a Colorado organizer with the national gay Christian group Soulforce.
The group has, in the past, staged occasional mass rallies at the Colorado Springs world headquarters of Focus, which maintains that gays can be “cured,” but this year the activists have shifted their tactics. “I don’t want to give away too much, but the concept is to create nonviolent tension with very little advance warning … in the hope that we will be able to seek dialogue. We could have people blocking entrances, or distributing literature on campus.” Focus on the Family spokesman Gary Schneeberger says the ministry welcomes anyone who wants to come and observe their work; however, no one can walk in expecting to have a private conversation with James Dobson, the founder and chairman. On Feb. 19, Dotti Berry and Robynne Sapp were arrested after they refused to leave the building unless they were granted a private audience with Dobson. But, Focus on the Family, Schneeberger noted, is a large company, with 1,300 employees.
“They came in and wanted a private meeting with Dr. Dobson, and that’s not how it works in big business,” Schneeberger says. “You don’t go to USAA [insurance company] and ask to speak the CEO.”
Specifically, Berry and Sapp had indicated they wanted an apology from Dobson, a child psychologist, for his statements in a Dec. 12, 2006 Time magazine op/ed.
In the column, titled “Two Mommies Is One Too Many,” Dobson criticized Mary Cheney and her lesbian partner, who are expecting a baby, and cited scientific research to assert that “children do best on every measure of well-being when raised by their married mother and father.”
After the column was published, the scientists whose work that Dobson used to back up his claim – Dr. Kyle Pruett of Yale Medical School and educational psychologist Carol Gilligan – denounced Dobson’s analysis, and accused him of misrepresenting their views.
But Dobson was unrepentant. In his January newsletter to supporters, he dissected much of the criticism, including weighing in with this then-and-now reminiscence:
“What we are seeing here is evidence that ‘same-sex marriage’ is supported by a vast bulwark of politically correct ideology, and I can tell you from experience that it rises up like a dragon when challenged.
Anyone who dares to disagree with that cherished position, or with the claim that homosexuality is genetic, can expect to incur great indignation from cultural elites around the world. There are beliefs that simply will not be tolerated, and the notion that boys and girls need both a mother and a father is one of the sacred cows.
Imagine how the culture would have reacted 50 years ago to the assertion that two lesbians or two gay men could replace a child’s mother or father. How times have changed.
However, Soulforce’s Hubble cites the the American Psychological Association’s own statement regarding gay and lesbian couples who are parents.
From the APA:
The American Psychological Association has found that groups opposing marriage rights for same-sex couples repeatedly mischaracterize the implications of the existing scientific research for public policy on gay and lesbian parenting. They do so by relying on studies that simply do not address gay and lesbian parents and their children, because the research that has directly studied gay and lesbian parents and their children has not found any evidence to justify discrimination against them.
Late this week, Hubble again called on Dobson to “publicly recant and apologize for his recent assertion in Time magazine.”
It’s not likely.
“We’ve heard what they’ve had to say, and they are not interested in dialogue – they are interested in monologue,” Schneeberger says.
Cara DeGette is a longtime Colorado journalist and a senior fellow at Colorado Confidential. E-mail her at email@example.com.