Focus on the Family rally to be held in Nashville

One of the nation’s leading icons for the religious right, discrimination, and homophobia is coming to Nashville.

Dr. James C. Dobson, founder and outspoken leader of the Colorado-based “Focus on the Family,” is scheduled to be featured at a rally designed to fire-up conservatives. The October 16 event at the Municipal Auditorium comes just two weeks in advance of the vote to amend the Tennessee state constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Also slated to speak at the rally is Nashville’s own Richard Land, director of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, well known for his inflammatory homophobic comments on recent radio and television appearances.

Similar rallies are also schedule in Pittsburgh and Minneapolis/St. Paul, sites identified by the organizers as crucial to “important races on November’s ballot.”

According to Tom Minnery, senior vice president of government and public policy at Focus on the Family Action, the goal of such rallies is to “fill large arenas in each city with thousands of people, to alert them to the tremendous issues facing them in the upcoming elections – and to lay out those issues in a nonpartisan fashion.”

However, it is obvious from a look at their Web site and promotional materials the only “issue” to be addressed is that of same-sex marriage.

Tennessee-based, a project of the Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT), and a sponsor of the event, describes itself as a “Coalition to Protect Tennessee Marriage.” Their Web site includes a link labeled “election 2006” which goes directly to a publication which equates same-sex marriage with a man marrying his horse.

“James Dobson is a ringmaster of a circus of inequality,” says Christopher Sanders, president of the Tennessee Equality Project, “His Colorado show is invading Tennessee to dazzle us with the greatest hate show on earth. I don’t think Tennessee voters will be impressed with his clowns. If he cares about the families of Tennessee, then maybe he should address the issues of education, income disparity and health care that really threaten us. I think that’s what Jesus would do.”

The Tennessee Equality Project (TEP), the statewide organization to advance and protect the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered citizens and their families, is the parent organization of Vote No on 1, the movement to defeat the proposed amendment slated for the November 5 ballot.

“I find it interesting that the extreme right wing express is stopping in Nashville,” said Vote No on 1 campaign manager, Randy Tarkington. “This just supports the fact that this amendment, like Mr. Dobson and friends, are to the extreme right on these issues.”

Tarkington adds, “The fact that they are stopping in Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota illustrates that this is about the Karl Rove tactic of using marriage as a political tool to motivate the extreme right. They choose to stop in states with competitive Senate races as opposed to just states with marriage amendments.  I find it so very wrong that they choose to use our Constitution for political gain.”

The Vote No on 1 initiative is planning a counter event to coincide with the conservative rally. Check their Web site at for developing details. 

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

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