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March 1, 2010 Print

Member Update: Miracles at the State Level

by Tom Minnery

Dear Friend,

Incredible things are happening right now, but there’s an untold story that is most amazing of all. And I know you’ll want to take a few moments to read what’s next—because this is your story!

What you’ve been able to do through Focus on the Family Action™ doesn’t always make the headlines right away, but the truth about the impact you are having can’t be hidden for long.

That’s why I want to share this story with you right now. You see, together, you and I are about to launch into a period of several months that’s unlike any I can recall. Never in my 35 years of political involvement have both the threats and opportunities been so enormous as they are now.

I’ll tell you a little more about some of those threats and opportunities in a bit. But first, let me get back to the rest of the story – because it’s important that you understand the big impact that your support of Focus Action has been having … and what it can do at this critical hour.

Without you, the Massachusetts Miracle may never have happened

You probably know the incredible Cinderella story of Scott Brown. He’s the Massachusetts Republican state senator who came from 30 points down in the last month to win a special U.S. Senate election.

Scott Brown scored that amazing upset because of one issue: health care. His pledge to be the 41st vote against ObamaCare – and thus stop it in the Senate – became the rallying cry of the people of Massachusetts. And his resulting victory sent chills up the spines of politicians around the country, virtually guaranteeing the defeat of ObamaCare as we know it.

But that entire scenario may never have come to pass without the exhaustive work that Focus Action was able to do last July – made possible by the incredible support of friends like you. Let me explain.

In the heat of the summer, opposition to ObamaCare was beginning to build, but health care reform was still on the fast track. Seeing an opportunity to delay any action until after the August congressional recess, Focus Action poured on the heat.

But we didn’t turn up the heat on all congressional offices. Instead, we intensely targeted eight U.S. House members who were on the key House committee that was considering the bill. And we were able to directly connect nearly 18,000 phone calls into those eight members’ offices – phone calls that came from constituents in each district in opposition to ObamaCare.

Almost immediately thereafter, President Obama announced that there would be no committee votes until fall. “We’re just trying to get [the nationalized health-care plan] out of committee,” he explained. 1 That huge delay proved to be pivotal to the demise of ObamaCare.

But thanks to your continued support, we weren’t done yet. In the fall, we mobilized hundreds of thousands of concerned citizens to speak out against the funding of abortion in the plan. Before the battle was done, we directly connected by telephone nearly 100,000 people with their targeted member of Congress.

As you may recall, we also delivered nearly 150,000 petitions to many of those same offices. And that’s not to mention our national broadcasts, e-mail blasts and other calls to action in which the response generated was significant but hard to measure. We also worked in tandem with other national groups doing similar work.

As a result, abortion became a major sticking point in the plan. The Washington Post reported the story with a typical headline: “Democrats’ concerns over abortion may imperil health bill.” 2

Indeed, concerns over abortion nearly killed the bill in the U.S. House. But most importantly, both the House and Senate had to use valuable weeks to address abortion through amendments, debate and backroom negotiations. Though the outlook was grim when the Senate passed the bill on Christmas Eve, all of the delays – plus the one-vote margin – set the stage for the Massachusetts Miracle just 26 days later.

In all, Focus Action spent more than $650,000 to oppose ObamaCare. Without the faithful support of friends like you, the story of health care reform may have had a much different ending.

Your help for one state helps save marriage in three states!

Opponents of traditional marriage saw last year’s vote in Maine as their best opportunity yet to secure same-sex “marriage” by a vote of the people. And two key polls last fall showed Maine voters rejecting traditional marriage by 9 and 11 points. 3,4

But your support allowed Focus to pour major resources into Maine. In addition to more than $75,000 in cash gifts, Focus asked more than 1.2 million constituents around the country to also directly support the StandForMarriage Maine coalition. We also called Maine pastors to action and educated Maine citizens through the mail, radio broadcasts and multiple e-mail blasts.

Because of complex campaign finance regulations, it was deemed best for all of this support to come from Focus on the Family rather than Focus Action. But that was only possible because Focus Action was taking up the slack in every other state battle around the country. Without getting into detailed accounting matters, the bottom line is that your support for Focus Action had a huge impact in the marriage battle in Maine. And the end result, as you probably know, is that the people of Maine shocked the pundits by voting to protect traditional marriage.

But that’s not the end of the story. While the battle was being fought in Maine, marriage time-bombs were also ticking in two other northeastern states: New York and New Jersey.

The huge win for marriage in Maine proved to be the nail in the coffin for a same-sex “marriage” bill in New York, as Empire State politicians were stunned that a northeastern state would vote the way it did. The State Senate, which at one point was thought to have the votes to pass it, suddenly got gun-shy and voted counterfeit marriage down by an overwhelming vote of 38-24. 5

In New Jersey, Focus Action was active on two levels. First, we invested resources in last fall’s gubernatorial and legislative elections, knowing that the results of those elections could decide the fate of marriage in the Garden State. Complementing what other groups were doing, we spent heavily on radio.

Then, following Chris Christie’s stunning pro-marriage victory in the race for Governor, we turned our attention to lobbying the state Legislature. Again, we focused our resources – which you helped provide – on seven state legislators and generated over 7,000 local phone calls into those offices.

The $38,000 we used to target state legislators could not have been better spent, as 5 of 7 voted against the redefinition of marriage – and another abstained – when it finally came to a vote in early January, resulting in a 20-14 defeat for same-sex “marriage.” 6

But without the victory in Maine, followed by the victory in New York, the New Jersey vote might have gone very differently. Once again, your faithful support in 2009 allowed us to make a vital difference for marriage in not one, but three states!

You can help write the story for 2010

I hope that quick look back is as encouraging to you as it is to me. Those success stories give hope right now as you and I face an unprecedented panorama of both threats and opportunities.

Despite the fact that the Left has been recently chastened somewhat by voters, our ideological opponents remain in total control of Washington. I told you in the last update about some of the dangers in 2010 at the federal level – religious freedom attacks, expanded federal funding of abortion, forcing open homosexuality into the military, etc.

But we’re already going full bore in the states as well, where the Left also made big gains in the last two elections. Now they’re trying to cash in by passing their agenda. Here’s a small taste of what your support for Focus Action is doing to stop them at the state level:

  • Standing against a major push for gambling expansion in Alabama. Gary Palmer, president of our associated group, the Alabama Policy Institute, says that this is the “most intense” of the many battles that they’ve had with the gambling syndicate. 7
  • Opposing same-sex civil unions in Delaware and in Hawaii, where – against all odds – we just won the battle in the state house! Your support helped fund grassroots organizing efforts by our associated Hawaii Family Forum, which the state’s largest newspaper credited with the victory. 8
  • Working to stop a dangerous, anti-parent, sex-education bill in Kentucky.
  • Fighting back a bill that would open up embryonic stem-cell research in South Dakota.
  • Preparing for action on another dangerous sexual orientation bill in California.
  • Helping Texas ensure that “Christmas” remains in social studies textbooks (another victory!)
  • Opposing the expansion of hate-crimes laws to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in Pennsylvania.

But we’re also on the offense in the states:

  • Working to pass marriage amendments in Iowa, New Hampshire and West Virginia.
  • Polling and providing resources in numerous states to pro-family groups attempting to add religious freedom protections – a major project we’ve been working on for over a year.
  • Assisting Virginia, Kentucky and potentially six other states that are working to ensure that women considering an abortion are offered the chance to see their preborn baby by ultrasound.

And, just like at the federal level, the opportunities at the state level for political gains this fall are enormous. That’s why, we have a team of staff and volunteers who are running numbers and analyzing district-bydistrict opportunities so that we are strategic in taking full advantage.

But to do all of this, I’ll need your continued partnership. Expensive legislative battles are already upon us, and we’re even now beginning to budget for what we hope will be unprecedented political involvement by Focus Action this fall.

The stories that you helped write in 2009 were truly amazing. And the stories for 2010 are being written now. Please do all you can to make this year as shocking to the political establishment as it was last year! Your fervent prayers, action and generous financial support are needed to help make that happen.

As always, my deepest heartfelt thanks are with you. May God go before us!


Tom Minnery
Senior Vice President
Government and Public Policy

P.S. Together, you and I had remarkable impact in 2009. Please join me again in 2010 by sending your much-needed gift today. Your sacrificial gift will help us stand strong against very real threats … and take advantage of incredible opportunities! Thank you!

1 www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-at-Town-Hall-in-Raleigh-North-Carolina/
2 www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/02/AR2009110203232.html
3 www.democracycorps.com/wp-content/files/mesw092709fq1web.pdf
4 www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389×6859992
5 www.nytimes.com/2009/12/03/nyregion/03marriage.html
6 www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/01/nj_senate_rejects_bill_legaliz.html
7 E-mail to Focus on the Family Action, 1/31/2010.
8 www.honoluluadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=201013003351 www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/