Home » About Us »

June 1, 2006 Print

Member Update: Federal Marriage Amendment

by Tom Minnery

Dear Friend,

You’ve heard it said that before politicians can see the light, they must feel the heat. Well, step one completed.

We were disappointed in the outcome of the big Senate vote on the Marriage Protection Amendment early in June, but you should have heard the senators squawk on the Senate floor about the tremendous pressure that your Focus Action contributions allowed us to pour on them.

Some of them disliked our message so much that I wanted you to see the ad for yourself. I’ve enclosed a copy of the newspaper ad that ran in 58 newspapers prior to the vote. We used different versions for different senators. By the way, Dr. Dobson picked up the same theme in radio commercials that he recorded. We ran the commercial 2,400 times on big radio stations in key states.

One of the senators we targeted, Chuck Hagel from Nebraska, apparently couldn’t take the heat. On the day of the vote, he hopped a ride out of town on Air Force One with the president, who was making a speech in Omaha, and Hagel ducked the vote altogether. He finally announced later that he was against the Marriage Amendment.

Now, here’s the irony. One of the reasons for the Amendment is that activist judges can overturn the will of the people when those citizens amend their state constitutions to protect marriage. So far, that’s only happened in one state — Nebraska. C’mon, Sen. Hagel, the people of Nebraska sent you to Washington to vote on the issues, not to ride home on Air Force One.

Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota was so upset with the attention we focused on him that he tried quoting the Bible against us on the floor of the Senate. Reporters picked up that story, and I wanted you to see the very able response given by Carrie Earll of our staff, so I enclosed one of those articles for you.

Allow me quickly to list all of the ways we alerted citizens about the importance of the marriage vote and the need to contact their senators about it. By God’s grace and your support, we: 

  • Mailed letters to more than 300,000 citizens in target states.
  • Distributed nearly two million postcards for constituents to use in contacting their senators.
  • Paid for ten full or partial broadcasts on Dr. Dobson’s daily radio program.
  • Ran 14 special, single-state-only broadcasts of the daily news program, “Family News in Focus,” in which we targeted individual senators.
  • Placed more than 1.3 million phone calls, resulting in tens of thousands of phone calls into the offices of key senators.
  • Sent nearly 2.6 million e-mails calling for action.
  • Ran a letter-to-the-editor campaign that reached at least 4.2 million readers in at least 62 newspapers.
  • Produced and ran more than 2,400 radio ads on 75 stations in target states.
  • Generated at least 55,000 faxes into U.S. senators’ offices.
  • Produced and ran newspaper ads reaching nearly 6.8 million readers in 57 papers, including USA Today.
  • Lobbied U.S. senators on Capitol Hill during each of the four months leading up to the vote.
  • Generated significant news coverage through the efforts of our media team.
  • Ran numerous stories in Citizen magazine and on our website, citizenlink.com.
  • Funded grassroots efforts — including pastors’ events and phone banks — through our associated family policy councils in various states.

We would do it all again in a heartbeat. That’s because every pro-family citizen we were able to reach is one who is now more acutely aware of the attack on marriage. And they are also more aware of something else — how their senators voted — which should breathe some fear into the hearts of senators such as Hagel, as well as two others who did not vote, Rockefeller of West Virginia and Dodd of Connecticut.

To paraphrase an old saw: You can lead a politician to water, but you can’t make him vote right. Fortunately though, the axiom doesn’t end there, because you can also hold a politician accountable after he votes. And, with your help, that’s exactly what Focus on the Family Action will do in the next few months.

You see, we operate on the principle that there are two prime times for lobbying: legislative and election seasons. It’s no surprise that politicians who want your vote will be much more attentive to your point of view during the election season. And if they don’t change their position, you as a voter have a right to help change their address by electing someone else!

That’s why Focus Action will invest major resources in approximately 20 states with key U.S. Senate and U.S. House races. In fact, our plan calls for spending well over $1 million for mailings, phone calls, targeted advertising and rallies. We’ll let pro-family citizens know where the candidates stand, and encourage them to take appropriate action. We know this is effective from our experience in the last election cycle.

In 2004, our first year of operations, we conducted similar efforts in eight states. When the big marriage vote took place early this month, seven of the eight U.S. senators elected in those states voted for the Marriage Protection
Amendment — and all seven were co-sponsors. Will you stand with us as we prepare to march into this year’s key states? We need your prayers, your action and your financial gifts to allow Focus Action to continue to let people know where their elected leaders stand — or hide — on the issues that impact marriage and the family.


Tom Minnery
Senior Vice President
Government and Public Policy