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04/28/2011

Focus on the Family's judicial analyst defines bullying, indicts his side's own 2008 efforts

by Jeremy Hooper

Bruce-HausknechtIn light of the controversy regarding DOMA defense and the law firm King & Spalding in particular, Focus on the Family's Bruce Hausknecht attempts to explain the difference between boycotts (which he apparently supports) and behind-the-scenes bullying (which he purports to oppose):

First, boycotts are a time-honored American tradition. They are out in the open, no secrets. Very grassroots-oriented. Masses of people influencing how a company they purchase goods or services from operates. Companies that positively respond to their customers in those cases will reap the financial rewards down the road. And what’s best about it? The companies can brag about it, issue press releases, and benefit from all the publicity.

On the other hand, there are those behind-the-scenes economic threats – actual or implied – by a few politically connected and/or financially well-off customers or clients. Nobody’s willing to publicly talk about what happened. Well, that’s power politics at its ugliest, and – let’s face it – that’s bullying. If it’s not, then why won’t anyone come clean and tell the whole story?
...
Bottom line: If the story’s got big money, secrecy, and a sudden change of heart, it’s not a boycott, it’s bullying.

The Difference Between Boycotts and Bullying [Focus]

A distinction we actually appreciate, since we too have been trying to flesh out the difference between announced boycotts (e.g. hotels that supported discrimination, retail outlets that go against their gay consumers) and closeted political threats. For a handy example of the latter, we will once again turn to the letter that the heavily Focus on the Family-financed Prop 8 campaign sent to pro-equality donors, threatening to expose said donors unless they gave a comparable donation to the "protect marriage" cause:

No telling how many other companies received such a letter. It just so happens that the Abbott one went public, but it would be illogical to assume they were the only recipient.

In regards to King & Spalding: The pressure from the pro-equality side did not involve extortion or blackmail or any kind of suspect demand. All the pro-equality side really had to do was inform about the highly discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, showing the firm, its clients, and the world at large what, exactly, the unconstitutional measure means for millions of Americans. That's not "bullying": That's principled advocacy.

Which is another aspect the anti-LGBT crowd always overlooks: The issue of merit. Not all calls for better (or "better") business practices are created equal.

**

*NOTE: Focus on the Family gave $727,250 in cash and services to the Prop 8 campaign, according to records released by the California secretary of state [Change.org]

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