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02/22/2012

Video: Still an anti-LGBT monologue, even if in a 'Dialogue' costume

by Jeremy Hooper

In his writeup, Joe Jervis says, "The clip seems relatively harmless until you realize what's really behind all this." Here's the clip:

Joe hits the nail on the head. And not only in terms of this so-called Day Of Dialogue, but also the overarching PR campaign that its host organization, Focus on the Family, has taken on in the years since James Dobson left.

When Focus took over for Exodus International on an equality-hostile little project that was once known as The Day of Truth, the team (led by Focus' Candi Cushman) quickly rebranded the effort as The Day of Dialogue. For obvious reasons, they did this. The Day Of Truth sounded arrogant. Dictatorial. Dialogue, on the other hand, sounds open. Willing. Plus the new word allows Focus to put onus on the opposition, who they can portray as the truly close-minded and intolerant, should said opposition not dignify their side of the conversation.

But the truth? Despite the name change, the Day of Dialogue didn't really change much of anything in terms of view. The DOD website is filled with "ex-gay" materials and suggestions that students invite professional "ex-gay" speakers. The site pushes one-sided dictums detailing God's supposed one and only design for sexuality, with homosexuality still described as "broken." Gay students are still monolithically placed under a "those who struggle" label. And Candi Cushman herself pushes discredited "ex-gay" science (whenever mainstream media cameras aren't around, of course). The endgame is the exact same as it always was: "Changing" LGBT students. And those of us who rely on credible science, personal life experience, our own religious views, or anything else that challenges their own, faith-based pushes? Well we are of course portrayed as duped victims of liberal indoctrination, with Jesus our only "cure."

As I said, this surface-level rebranding is all par for the course for the new, "softer" version of Focus on the Family. When the nothing-if-not-incendiary Dobson left the helm, the staffers knew they had an image problem. So everywhere new president Jim Daly went during his early days in the top office, he began talking in gentler tones. Clearly that was the focus that Focus pitched to interested journalists: The meme of a kinder "pro-family" group. It was easy for Daly to get traction on this, since the mainstream media loves and will often uncritically accept the idea of the "nice" discriminator. But the truth is that the makeover, just like the DOD rebranding, was almost exclusively cosmetic. Sure, there has been a change in tone, as far as that goes. And staffers did begin scrubbing the Focus site of some of the worst stuff. BUT THAT'S ALMOST WORSE than what we had under Dobson! Because the current Focus on the Family is still pushing for and against the very same things that James Dobson held so dear. The difference is that Dobson let us know where we stood, whereas Daly and his crew want to have their "nice" cake and eat our rights too.

The "new" Focus on the Family loves to talk about dialogue. About building bridges. About rallying the next generation. About disagreeing without disagreeable. About not hating anyone.

Unfortunately for our cosmetically enhanced Colorado Springs pals, some of us still want to talk about merit. Or in the case of Day of Dialogue and other attempts to "change" us: Lack thereof.

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