Thursday, April 27, 2006

Anti-Gay Lawmakers Tied to Focus on the Family

The notorious crusading anti-gay duo, Sen. David Fowler (R) and Rep. Chris Clem (R) appear to be on the path to some serious monetary gain from their religious-based crusade against marriage rights for all.

While this state readies itself for a painfully divisive November when citizens will vote on Amendment 1, a constitutional amendment that will forever ban same-sex marriage rights, two of the state's leading anti-gay lawmakers appear to be making career moves toward full time heterosexist positions in the private sector.

This state's legislative body is a part time endeavor. Thus, Sen. Fowler and Rep. Clem must confine their tax-payer funded work on behalf of rightwing religious zealots to a part time basis.

When David Fowler and Chris Clem announced that they will not seek re-election this year, there were the usual mumblings about spending more time with families. Turns out, the crusading anti-gay duo will be spending more time with James Dobson's 'family', or Focus on the Family.

While ostensibly representing the citizens of Tennessee, Fowler and Clem have been getting real cozy with Dobson's Focus on the Family. Sen. Fowler has already accepted a job with Focus on the Family affiliate, Family Action Council of Tennessee (recently incorporated) . In the story pasted below, a spokesperson for the Colorado based Focus on the Family brags that the rightwing Christian group can now claim 33 of these state affiliates.

At present, Boy Wonder, Rep. Clem (member of the Christian Legal Society!) will apparently confine himself to merely serving on the board of the Tennessee affiliate.

So, with a little help from Colorado, Republican state lawmakers will be leading the private sector effort to pass this state's anti gay marriage ballot initiative. And at least one Republican legislator will be paid by rightwing religious bigots for leading the campaign to pass Amendment 1.

Apparently there is money to be made in legislating homophobia.

Knox News Sentinel:

NASHVILLE — Two Tennessee legislators who have spearheaded anti-gay measures are joining a group that is leading the effort to pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

State Sen. David Fowler, R-Signal Mountain, has accepted a job as executive director of the Family Action Council of Tennessee. The group is associated with Colorado-based Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian advocacy group that opposes gay rights.

Eventually Fowler will become a lobbyist for the group, but he said he will have to wait a year to do that because of the new ethics law.

Rep. Chris Clem, R-Lookout Mountain, is going to serve on the board of the Family Action Group of Tennessee.

Both lawmakers announced earlier this year they wouldn't seek re-election. Fowler said he plans to move to Nashville for his new job.

Fowler, 47, said one of his top priorities in his new job will be promoting passage of the state Marriage Protection Amendment, scheduled for the November ballot. The proposed amendment, which seeks to ban same-sex marriage, was pushed by Fowler in the General Assembly.

"It will allow me to engage fully in those issues that really brought me to the legislature in the first place without the distractions of all the other things we must do, discuss and debate up here," Fowler said.

Clem last year sponsored a bill to ban homosexuals from adopting children, which was ultimately defeated in a House committee.

Other social and fiscal conservative causes championed by Fowler include opposing an income tax and the lottery, restricting abortion rights and supporting an effort to fire teachers who taught evolution as fact.

The Family Action Council of Tennessee is the 33rd such organization in the country, according to Focus on the Family's Brad Miller, who said Fowler is "well known across this state for his support of the family and the moral values that promote a culture conducive to building strong families."

Republican Rep. Bo Watson of Hixson is running unopposed for Fowler's traditionally Republican District 11 after Democratic qualifier Jim Hall announced this week he's dropping out of the race.

Join the campaign to VOTE NO on Amendment 1

Sen. David Fowler
Rep. Chris Clem