by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
Last week, SGN profiled National Organization for Marriage (NOM) operatives Frank Schubert and Chris Plante, who have come to Washington to run the campaign to reject Referendum 74 and take away the freedom of same-sex couples to marry.
According to Matt McTighe of Mainers United for Marriage, who faced off against Schubert in an unsuccessful 2009 campaign to save Maine's marriage equality law, Schubert likes to stay behind the scenes, partnering with local individuals and groups who act as the public face of the anti-equality movement.
Schubert has plenty of eager surrogates in Washington - from a gun-toting state legislator to a Christian homeschooler to a protégé of Nixon hatchet-man Chuck Colson to an anti-Gay beauty queen.
'QUICK-DRAW' MATT SHEA:
NULLIFY FEDERAL LAW
Two-term State Rep. Matt Shea (R-4th Dist.) struck a messianic note when he talked to Preserve Marriage Washington volunteers on April 24. The point of their campaign is not to reject the Marriage Equality Act, he told them, but to convert the whole country to their version of Christianity.
Shea was captured on tape telling the volunteers that 'the mission field is not around the world any more. The mission field's here. It is right here. And this is a mission. We are on a mission right now.
'So when I talk to pastors, that's exactly where I start,' Shea added.
'We are denying, I think, an obligation, and I think we're denying the covenant the founders made when they landed on these shores, to make this nation a God-honoring nation for God. That is as simple as I can make that.'
Shea expanded on this theme when he spoke at May 26 volunteer meeting in Spokane. At that time he said of Referendum 74, 'This is not about same-sex marriage, OK? I know that sounds really weird. This bill is really about religious liberty. This bill is about our ability to continue to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and make disciples unhindered in the state of Washington.'
In 2009, Shea participated in a conference of right-wing state legislators that produced a 10-point program to 'put the federal government back in its place.' According to an article written by Shea, available on the Tenth Amendment Center website, Shea's plan harks back to the pre-Civil War idea of 'nullification' - a favorite notion of pro-slavery advocates. States, he says, may nullify, abolish, or refuse to comply with federal laws they don't like, including health care reform and income tax laws.
The Tenth Amendment Center is a right-wing libertarian group that promotes the nullification doctrine. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, nullification 'has gained wide support among hard-line libertarians and neo-Confederates who are still angry at the powers the federal government accumulated after the Civil War that allowed it, among other things, to act against segregation, discrimination, and other social ills.'
Shea, a favorite of the God-and-guns crowd, has been charged with a firearms violation for a November 2011 incident in which he allegedly pulled a gun on another motorist in a 'road rage' dispute. He subsequently said he had been unfairly 'targeted due to his work,' although he admitted he had not renewed his concealed weapons permit for several years.
In his current re-election bid, Shea has been endorsed by the Faith and Freedom PAC, the Human Life PAC, the Gun Owners of America, and a host of Republican Party organizations.
Shea is on the executive board of Preserve Marriage Washington, serving - as most of their board members do - without pay. Many of the group's paid staffers also have interesting histories, however.
DIANNA BRANNAN: RIGHTS
FOR PARENTS, NOT CHILDREN
DiAnna Brannan, for example, has earned more than $14,000 through July, according to PDC reports, as Preserve Marriage's 'grassroots coordinator.' In her public statements, she echoes Shea's Christian-right rhetoric.
'I want to reiterate, the very foundation of what we're doing is prayer,' she told Preserve Marriage volunteers at their May 26 meeting.
Brannan is also the co-founder - with her husband, Scott - of the Christian Homeschool Network of Washington (CHN). According to the group's website, CHN is 'a statewide grassroots organization dedicated to protecting your God-given right to home-educate in Washington State without government interference.'
The website, which helpfully warns visitors that 'you, personally, are a sinner by nature and by choice,' also warns against what it calls a 'critical threat to parental rights' - namely, the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.
'President Obama supports this treaty,' CHN says. 'Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been a leading advocate of this treaty for over 20 years. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) has 'promised' that this treaty will be ratified during this term of Congress.'
According to UNICEF, 'Every right spelled out in the Convention is inherent to the human dignity and harmonious development of every child. The Convention protects children's rights by setting standards in health care, education, and legal, civil, and social services.'
Rather than supporting children's rights, the Brannans say, they uphold 'the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children.'
CHUCK COLSON PROTÉGÉ
Bethany Speier, a photographer, also works for Preserve Marriage Washington, earning $7,715.22 in compensation and expenses through July. According to her blog, Speier was formerly associated with the Family Policy Institute of Washington, an anti-choice, anti-Gay organization associated with Focus on the Family.
Speier proudly claims former Nixon staffer Chuck Colson as 'my mentor and hero.' She first became interested in politics, she says, when Colson asked her to imagine God saying, 'Bethany, you cannot live in this nation where I have given you so much freedom, opportunity, and privilege, and not rise up as a rightful citizen in this nation.'
'I still get chills thinking about it,' she says on her blog.
Colson, who died earlier this year, famously converted to Christian fundamentalism after serving time in a federal prison for obstructing justice in the 1973-74 investigation of the Watergate burglary. He was a primary author of the Manhattan Declaration, which urged Christians to violate pro-choice and pro-Gay laws.
Among the signers of the Declaration were a constellation of right-wing political and religious leaders including then-Archbishop (now Cardinal) Timothy Dolan; Cardinal John Patrick Foley; newly appointed Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Cordileone (then bishop of Oakland); Family Research Council president Tony Perkins; Focus on the Family founder James Dobson; and Robert W. Duncan, head of the Anglican Church in North America, which split from the Episcopalians over the issue of Gay and women clergy.
MISS WASHINGTON 2012
Mandy Schendel, Miss Washington 2012, does not get a salary from Preserve Marriage Washington, just travel expenses for her public appearances on their behalf. Like Speier, she was formerly associated with the Family Policy Institute of Washington, although Schendel was merely an 'executive assistant' with the group.
Led by Joseph Backholm of Lynnwood, the Family Policy Institute is notorious for promoting 'studies' that claim same-sex couples molest their children or pressure them to become Gay. While these claims are outrageous by themselves, they become even more disturbing in connection with Schendel, who has established a nonprofit to mentor girls between 6 and 26 and 'enhance their education and career opportunities.'
Before her beauty pageant successes, Schendel worked at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, playing Beauty (of Beauty and the Beast). She then became Miss Teen Washington and eventually Miss Washington 2012.
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