Inside the "Values Voter Summit" in DC

Soulforce Executive Director, Jeff Lutes, attended the 2006 Values Voter Summit in Washington DC on Friday, September 22, 2006. The following is his initial report from inside the summit.

The room has an estimated 1600 in attendance. It is smothered in red, white, and blue . . . with white stars projected on the background and side walls. There are two huge video screens, 1599 Republicans and one bald Democrat who runs a gay rights organization.

Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA):
"Our society stands on the basis of the family unit and my state supreme court made a mistake . . . they should have focused on the children because marriage is about nurturing children…………We desperately need a Federal Marriage Amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman" (crowd cheers).

Announcer introduces James Dobson (Focus on the Family), Alan Sears (Alliance Defense Fund) and Tony Perkins (Family Research Council). Introduces them as a "power panel" and says later that "if the pro-family movement had a Mount Rushmore, their faces would be on it." The theme from "Rocky" plays as Dobson, Perkins and Sears come out to speak.

They all spoke about victories in multiple states to protect traditional marriage but urged the crowd to not become complacent and keep working to get out the vote. Alan Sears says that "All good people come together to protect God’s plan for marriage" and that the "homosexual agenda and religious freedom are on a collision course".

Tony Perkins agrees and says that "America is on a collision course between radical homosexuals and religious freedom" and that "the other side wants to silence the church" Dobson and Sears told crowd that IRS code allows pastors to preach values and talk about public policy and get out the vote. Tony Perkins says that "if any pastor is challenged (for preaching on public policy/values), then ADF will defend them free of charge. No longer in America when pastors take a stand will they be alone".

Alan Sears says "there is so much propaganda about the myth of oppression" and Dobson says homosexuals can get most of the marriage protections by simply visiting a lawyer. Alan Sears says that the crowd must be careful to not "further the homosexual agenda which is the abolition of marriage and the silencing of the church". Alan Sears has to leave early – tells crowd he has to fly to San Francisco. The crowd giggles and moans and Tony Perkins says "We’ll pray for you".

Tony Perkins refers to a lesbian couple who broke up less than two years after their state passed some marriage-like legislation for same-sex couples, and then says "That tells you about the their commitment to the institution of marriage". Tony Perkins says the last time he saw the President, the President asked him to have his people pray for him.

Tony mentions Barry Lynn and refers to him as the head of "Americans United for the Division of the Country". Dobson acknowledges that Barry Lynn registered for the summit and may be in the crowd. He then criticizes Barry Lynn, claiming that Barry doesn’t understand the difference between a 510(c) 3 and a 501 (c) 4 and reassures the crowd that Focus on the Family has done nothing wrong and is in no danger of losing their tax-exempt status. He jokes that Barry Lynn has made a living off attacking him and worries about what Barry will do once he (Dobson) is gone. Dobson tells a story about a recent hunting trip with his son Ryan in which Dobson shot and killed a bear. He then says to the crowd "Those of you who don’t like hunting and that story offends you . . .get over it."

After they leave the stage, another panel forms ("Love and Marriage" plays as they walk on stage) with Prof. Robert George (Princeton), Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO) and Maggie Gallagher (author and syndicated columnist). Robert George talks about how same-sex marriage will lead to polygamy and says the Supreme Court is still a danger if it continues to follow the logic of Lawrence vs. Texas. Marilyn Musgrave says "If we have gay marriage our religious liberties are gone." Gallagher claims social science is clear kids need a mother and a father.

Next is Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) who states marriage is between a man and a woman and states confidently that Roe vs. Wade will be overturned in the future. He continues the argument that marriage is for the welfare of the children and encourages crowd to fight for the kids. He says that Dobson has been a wonderful gift to the country.

Mike Huckabee (R-AR) is next and says that marriage has always been between a man and a woman and, quote, "until Moses comes down with two tablets from Brokeback Mountain, let’s keep it like it is."

There was a break for lunch and the announcer reminds the crowd that any unauthorized taping is prohibited and if caught our tapes will be confiscated and erased. I quietly slip out with my recorder. As I exit the hall, I pass Don Wildmon from the American Family Association telling a reporter that the best thing the Republicans have going for them is the Democrats.

I swim through the sea of "values voters" until I get to the lobby, where I immediately call my partner Gary and tell him I love him and ask him to kiss the kids for me.

Jeff Lutes, LPC
Executive Director
Soulforce, Inc.

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