National Family Coalition traced back to far-right ideologues

Anti-gay mailer attacking Texas Senate District 10 candidate Libby Willis traced back to organization that is part of an ‘archconservative cabal’; tie to Burton consultant also found

 

James Russell  |  Staff Writer

russell@dallasvoice.com

 

Their names are simple, but clearly ideological: National Association for Gun Rights, National Pro-Life Alliance and National Family Coalition.

They blast voters with mailers and pre-recorded calls using meaty buzz terms: The candidate “voted for Obamacare,” “supports the radical anti-gun agenda,” “will leave the unborn defenseless.”

Last week, mailers distributed by the National Family Coalition appeared in Senate District 10 mailboxes, asking the Democratic candidate “to stop pushing the radical homosexual agenda.” As first reported in Dallas Voice, Luke Macias, consultant for Konni Burton of Colleyville, the Republican candidate for the Texas Senate District 10 seat, denied any knowledge of the mailer attacking Libby Willis, the Democrat running for the open District 10 seat.

“The campaign is not affiliated with the group that sent this mail piece in any way. … We are unaware of who sent the mailer, as the group claiming credit has no website, no telephone number, and only a mailing address,” Macias assured the Voice at the time.

The campaign was sticking to what matters to voters of Senate District 10, he said.

But Dallas Voice has since learned that the National Family Coalition is connected to a web of national, influential right-wing organizations linked to individuals with troubling legal histories and questionable backgrounds. They are white supremacists, anti-abortion purists, anti-gay pastors and hard-right political operatives. And they are linked to numerous shell organizations that routinely break the law.

Figuring out the connections among the complex web of organizations, their affiliations and associates emerging in the final days of the 2014 elections is like following a paper trail with no end. Figuring out why the National Family Coalition, which has neither an Internet presence nor listed phone number, chose to hit a senate district in Texas as its second target one week before the general election is just as complicated.

***

During the summer of 2013, a filibuster against the final passage of legislation restricting abortions propelled Sen. Wendy Davis, a Fort Worth Democrat, into the international spotlight.

It also riled Konni Burton, a Colleyville Tea Party operative who worked for Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Dan Patrick.

Burton announced she would challenge Davis for the seat with a fiery anti-abortion television advertisement. Her campaign coffers were immediately padded with donations from around the country.

One of those was a $25 donation from Lawrence “Larry” Pratt of Springfield, Va. He’s the executive director of Gun Owners of America, a far-right, Washington, D.C. lobbying organization that makes the National Rifle Association look like a gun control group. A former associate to right-wing presidential candidate Pat Buchannan, Pratt has been affiliated with white supremacist groups and violent anti-abortion groups.

Pratt is also a well-known operative for Dudley Brown, the right-wing Colorado operative who founded the National Association for Gun Rights. The NAGR’s PAC formally endorsed Burton in the May runoff election. The endorsement came with a plump $1,500 donation on April 23, 2014.

The National Family Council’s mailer was sent by VoterDirect Texas, the campaign arm of the New Braunfels direct mail firm WishLIST Direct.

According to state campaign finance records, the majority of VoterDirect’s clients are linked to Macias’ consulting group, Macias Strategies. Many of them are also affiliated with the state’s prominent hard-right organizations, most notably Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, a conservative group funded by West Texas oilman Lee Dunn, for which Macias conducts a majority of the consulting.

According to the Texas Ethics Commission, Burton’s campaign has paid WishLIST around $200,000 since July 8, 2013. The most recent payments came on Oct. 14, when it paid $4,530.81 for campaign mailers. On Oct. 23, the campaign paid $50 for graphic designs and $2,870 for push cards in two separate payments totaling $2,920. The mailers in question hit mailboxes on Oct. 27.

“Wishlist does a significant amount of political work for other campaigns,” Macias said, “but it gets run through consulting firms. I run my business differently. All my clients pay the vendors directly.

Macias repeatedly denied affiliation with the group. “We had never heard of the National Family Coalition until their mailer landed in District 10,” he said.

The National Family Coalition, like the NAGR PAC, is a 501(c)4 not-for-profit social welfare organization. It cannot legally endorse, oppose or support candidates in elections.

“Its primary goal must be education,” said Matthew Wilson, an associate professor of political science at Southern Methodist University. “As long as most of its expenditures are dedicated to issue-based education, the rest of the expenditures can go to electioneering.”

The organization can accept as much in donations as it wants without reporting it. Money can flow among groups without public knowledge. For wealthy donors who support a controversial cause and don’t want to hurt their business, Wilson said it’s a great resource. If there is no paper trail, there’s no way of knowing if there is any collusion among candidates and committees.

No paper trail? No problem.

Matt Angle, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Lone Star Project which provides opposition research on Texas Republicans, prefers to call them “dark money groups.”

“That’s where it gets murky,” Angle said. “Consultants and campaigns can claim plausible deniability. They can say ‘We don’t have control,’ but it’s obviously part of a coordinated effort among Republicans.”

The National Family Coalition fits that mold of the typical “dark money” group: It operates out of a post office box in a UPS store at 8116 Arlington Blvd., Ste. 142 in Falls Church, Va.

The Senate District 10 race wasn’t the National Family Coalition’s first rodeo.

Two Democratic Colorado senators, including Senate President John Morse, were recalled in September 2013 due to passage of gun control legislation. The effort was lead in part by Dudley Brown.

With two senators successfully recalled, Democratic Sen. Evie Hudak of Senate District 19 was next. Recall petitions were gathered. Given her colleagues’ defeats, she knew she couldn’t face a recall. She knew she’d lose. So she resigned, allowing Democrats to appoint Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, in order to hold onto their one-seat edge in the Colorado Senate.

Senate District 19 is one of two swing districts in Jefferson County, Colorado, or JeffCo, considered the state’s bellwether county. “As goes JeffCo, so goes Colorado,” said Mario Nicolais, an attorney who ran in the Republican primary in the county’s other swing seat Senate District 22.

Nicolais and Lang Sias, who narrowly lost to Hudak in the Senate District 19 race in 2012, were considered top Republican recruits. But Brown and his cohort of conservative activists didn’t think so. They targeted both Republicans for defeat. Nicolais faced a challenge from the “hand-picked” Tony Sanchez. Sias faced Laura Woods.

Both districts were soon flooded with mailers, some of which were provided by Nicolais. They have the generic names: Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, Colorado Campaign for Life and Colorado for Family Values. They all stuck to the red meat that riled up a Republican base.

The National Family Coalition was the newest entry in the race. The coalition’s mailer hit Senate District 19 before the Republican primary election.

In it, Sias was a “Democrat until 2006” whose campaign was funded by “millionaire homosexual activist Tim Gill.” Dotted with the footnotes to prove it, the mailer strikes a similar cord as the Willis mailer: “Call Lang Sias today and demand he cut his ties with the liberal Democrats who are attacking Coloradans’ traditional family values.”

On June 24, 2014, Sias lost the primary by 10 percentage points. Nicolais lost by 33. All signs point to the two incumbent Democrats retaining their seats on Election Day, Nov. 4.

Nicolais described the Colorado cabal as “a far right, fringe element of the Republican Party — an archconservative cabal” — a potent but viable cabal that has officially flooded into Texas, linked to a simple mailer in Senate District 10.

—  Tammye Nash

QueerBomb holding ‘Dirty Shame Pride Promenade,’ encouraging Pride parade boycott

Screen shot 2014-09-17 at 2.04.24 PM

Activists with QueerBomb Dallas are organizing a last-minute alternative Pride celebration on Sunday in Dallas in response to reports that Barry Andrews, the founder and CEO of Andrews Distributing Co., the largest corporate sponsor of the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, is holding a fundraisers for Dan Patrick the anti-gay Republican candidate for Texas lieutenant governor.

QueerBomb activists have also called parade organizers to task for the event’s lack of diversity in terms of racial and economic minorities and transgender people. They are calling on people to boycott the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, the Festival in Lee Park and all Dallas Tavern Guild bars. (DTG puts on the parade each year, organizing the event and getting sponsors, including Andrews Distributing, to cover most of the costs.) QueerBomb is also asking people to sign this online petition calling on the parade organizers to “drop human rights abusers and anti-queer businesses” as sponsors of and participants in the parade.

Among the parade participants QueerBomb wants organizers to drop are groups from Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, companies that “create weapons that kill thousands of innocent civilians every year;” JPMorgan Chase, whose “unethical financial practices caused the 2008 U.S. financial collapse;” and Heineken, which “excludes transgender people from its employment protections.”

“Dallas Pride’s organizers refuse to drop sponsorships from anti-queer and human rights abusing companies. Plus the parade itself has continually excluded racial and economic minorities from its ranks,” noted the press release announcing the “Dirty Shame” event, “an alternative pride promenade” set for 5 p.m. Sunday in Main Street Garden, 1902 Main St. in downtown Dallas.

“QueerBomb Dallas is assembling a flash force of LGBTQIA individuals who find Dallas Pride to be non-inclusive, capitalist, hetero-normative, needlessly safe and unchallenging,” according to the press release. “We’ve organized ‘DIRTY SHAME’ with boisterous urgency to create an alternative ‘Pride Promenade’ that carries a strong Queer message through the heart of Downtown Dallas. Let’s reclaim the radical, carnal and transgressive lineage of our ever-changing community, while celebrating every [one of] the unique individuals that make us a vibrant whole.”

The QueerBomb rally begins at 5 p.m. at the Main Street Garden and will feature performers, speakers, fun and “heart-stirring queer-fuckery.” Open mic slots are available and anyone who is interested can email QueerBombDallas@gmail.com for information.

The Queer Pride Promenade starts at 6:30 p.m., with participants encouraged to “strap on your cha-cha heels and get ready to stomp the sidewalks of Main Street in a festive display of undiluted queerness.”

Those attending Dirty Shame are encouraged to bring blankets, picnics, signs and banners, flags, noisemakers, musical instruments and “your friends.” Organizers also stressed that there are no rules regarding what manner of dress is allowed: “QueerBomb is a safe and affirming space. We promote body positivity and self expression. So wear what represents you. Wear anything you have ever wanted to wear or as little as the law will allow. Let is united and celebrate Pride without beer ads or exclusion.”

—  Tammye Nash

Ted Cruz takes up fight for heterosexual privilege

Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-originally from Canada) has taken up the fight for heterosexual privilege and discrimination against same-sex couples. He introduced the so-called State Marriage Defense Act of 2014. His only co-sponsor is Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). Canada is a marriage equality country. Texas, which Cruz represents, and Utah both have marriage-discrimination laws that have been declared unconstitutional by federal courts.

The bill would force the federal government to consider a couple’s place of residence rather than place of ceremony and invalidate marriages as people cross state lines.

Cruz claims his law would make the federal government respect all 50 states. However, federal regulations simply take place of celebration into account and do not invalidate marriages as people cross state lines.

The regulations do not force states to recognize marriages of same-sex couples. For example, married couples must file their federal income taxes as married, but the regulations do not force states to allow couples married elsewhere to file as married.

If Cruz’s law were to pass and be signed into law, gays and lesbians who live in marriage-discrimination states would lose social security, disability and other benefits making those states’ residents poorer.

Since he joined Congress in 2013, no legislation — this doesn’t include resolutions and amendments — Cruz sponsored has passed and been signed into law.

—  David Taffet

Stupid is as stupid does, or whatever

Screen shot 2014-05-13 at 8.58.03 AMI usually ignore stupid. I ignore it when people tell me I could pass for white. I ignore it when I hear someone say Africa is a country (help us, sweet Jesus), and I didn’t say a word when someone once said to me, “Don’t put too much ice in the glass cause when it melts it will spill over.” I swear she did.

So, I was tempted to ignore this email because it just reeks of stupid. A man named Weldon Cranfield sent it to our publisher, Leo Cusimano, who forwarded it to me. It seems Weldon’s Christian sensibilities are reeling after the Rams drafted Michael Sam this weekend. Bless his heart. I mean, it’s OK for Christians to murder, enslave, invade heathen countries (it’s for their own good) and stomp out other religions in the name of God, but OMG … Earth is ready to spin off its axis because an out gay man got drafted by those infidel Rams. Shame on them.

You’ll have to read lil’ ol’ Weldon’s email. It’s a jewel. I’m still trying to figure out how “blacks compromise just 12% of the population” as Weldon claims. Is he bragging that we’ve kept them from compromising more? It’s a wonder Texas and the other Southern states survived integration. Didn’t the prophets predict civilization would perish if black and white children attended school together? Or if blacks and whites ate in the same restaurant? W.A. Criswell, the intellectually impoverished leader of First Baptist Church of Dallas from 1944 to 1991, said it would. The day after the Brown v. Board of Education decision, Criswell preached a sermon that explained why God had ordained segregation. Straight out of the ass’ mouth. I mean horse’s.

Anyway, we were speaking about Weldon and his gifted use of language. Compromise, comprise. What’s the difference? Weldon is concerned, after all, for the good of all, and a black, out gay player in the NFL isn’t for the good of all. Just ask Weldon. Better yet, read his email. I’ve included his email address in case you want to thank him. I love how he signs off with “Sincerely.” Gosh, he’s polite.

“Dear Sir,

“The news today is Michael Sam became the first seventh round draft pick ever to get a call from the president of the United States and the president wasn’t calling him to congratulate him for his football prowess.  He is not that gifted as a football player!  He was drafted because he is a homosexual?

“There are less than 2 percent of Americans who are homosexual or lesbian people. Americans should not let 2 percent of the population change the definition of marriage that has been supported by every single culture and every single religion for 5,000 years. Not to mention the medical ramifications.

“While the Center for Disease Control reports that 78% of all new HIV infections are among males, primarily those who have had sex with other men, HIV/AIDS is taking a monstrous toll on the young man in particular. According to the CDC, more than a quarter of all new HIV infections in the United States are found in young males between the ages of 13–24, particularly in young males between 20–24, the category into which Sam falls. In fact, young man are the only age group in which the rate of HIV/AIDS infections is showing a significant increase.

“Despite the fact that blacks compromise just 12% of the population, blacks who are Sam’s age represent an astonishing 57% of all new cases among young males. There are more new HIV infections among young black males (aged 13–24) than any other age or racial group period. Alarmingly, the estimated rate of new HIV infections for black males is eight times as high as that of white men.

“In other words, as a young, black, homosexual male, Michael Sam is in the single highest risk category for HIV/AIDS that exist on the planet. Ole Roger Goodell and the NFL should be warning him, not glorifying him.

“Alas, the only people who truly care for Michael Sam are those who love him enough to tell him the truth about the health risks of homosexual behavior – and that sadly does not include the Roger Goodell or the NFL. They long ago sold their souls to the virulent, vitriolic bullies and bigots of big Gay. But it will be Michael Sam who pays the price for their soulless cowardice.

“Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said that “homosexuality for over 200 years has been criminal in every state.” My wife and our family and the majority of Americans (87%) refuse to celebrate sexual abnormality. We find it offensive and morally objectionable and is in no way a right in the U.S. Constitution. Society does not benefit from perversion, but rather ends up in decline. Calling Homosexuality a sin is truth, not hatred or bigotry.

“You have no right to be immoral in a Christian nation where sodomy and homosexuality is against the law. Nobody believes that perversion is a human rights issue. It has never been morally unacceptable and we find it very offensive.

“Sincerely, Weldon”

You can email Weldon at weldon.cranfield@gmail.com. God love him.

 

—  Steve Ramos

Former U.S. Senate candidate Craig James goes to work for hate group

Craig.James

Former U.S. Senate candidate Craig James

Former SMU football player and candidate for U.S. Senate Craig James has taken a job with Family Research Council, listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. He will become assistant to the hate group’s President Tony Perkins.

In his Senate campaign, James was best known for his attacks on fellow candidate former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, who rode on a float with the Dallas City Council in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade. Leppert participated in Pride until he decided to run for the Senate seat.

Leppert came in third in his Senate bid, ahead of James, who came in fourth. Sen. Ted Cruz won the election.

At a campaign debate at Dallas Country Club attended by Dallas Voice, James made this homophobic comment:

“You have to make that choice, absolutely. … Same-sex marriage, if someone chooses to do that, then that’s them, and God’s going to judge each one of us in this room for our actions, but in that case right there, they’re going to have to answer to the Lord for their actions. We should not give benefits to those civil unions. It should not occur. We have to stay strong on this. This is important, man. I tell you what, we have a fiscal issue in this county, but we also have a moral issue in this country, and as Christians we better stand up.”

After the campaign, Fox Sports hired James, but fired him a week later for comments made during the campaign.

“We just asked ourselves how Craig’s statements would play in our human resources department. He couldn’t say those things here,” Fox told Dallas Morning News at the time.

James is currently suing Fox for religious discrimination based on preserving his right to discriminate.

—  David Taffet

Obama administration diverts money from Uganda because of anti-gay law

Museveni

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni

The White house announced Tuesday it is stationing aircraft in Uganda to support the African Union efforts to save civilian lives in the Central African Republic and South Sudan from the Lord’s Resistance Army. Millions of dollars that was to go to Uganda will be diverted elsewhere, and invitations for Ugandan military and police to travel outside the country have been canceled.

“As we move forward with the deployment of the Ospreys to support the AU, we are cognizant that there are many who share our concerns about Ugandan President Museveni’s recent enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act,” the White House Office of Communications announced in a press release. “Ensuring justice and accountability for human rights violators like the LRA and protecting LGBT rights aren’t mutually exclusive. We can and must do both.”

To counter Museveni enacting the Anti-Homosexuality Act, several steps have been taken.

The Inter-Religious Council of Uganda will continue to receive $2.3 million for direct treatment of 50,000 people with HIV, but will lose $6.4 million in other funding, because its “public stance on homosexuality could foster an atmosphere of discrimination that runs counter to efforts to provide an effective and nondiscriminatory response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.”

The U.S. is suspending the start of a survey to estimate the size of key at-risk populations that was to be conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Uganda’s Makarere University. Proceeding with the survey could pose a danger to respondents and staff.

Because the law threatens the safety of LGBT tourists in Uganda and the liberty of those who show support for Uganda’s LGBT community, $3 million in funding designated for tourism and biodiversity promotion will be redirected to NGOs working on biodiversity protection.

The Department of Defense-sponsored Africa Air Chiefs Symposium and East Africa Military Intelligence Non-Commissioned Officer course will move to locations outside of Uganda. Invitational travel for Ugandan military and police has been suspended or canceled.

“We continue to look at additional steps we may take, to work to protect LGBT individuals from violence and discrimination, and to urge Uganda to repeal this abhorrent law,” the White House press release said.

—  David Taffet

Chick-fil-A billionaire CEO says his anti-gay marriage statements hurt business

ChickFilA-ChickenSandwich-e1395231520696Forbes magazine reported that in the summer of 2012, the billionaire family behind fast food chain Chick-fil-A found themselves … well, if not in hot water, then in a piping vat of chicken grease.

That year, with same-sex marriage on four state ballots, the scion of Forbes rich list stalwart S. Truett Cathy (net worth: $6.2 billion) hit headlines for taking a public stance against equal rights.

In July, Truett’s son Dan, Chick-fil-A’s CEO, told the Baptist Press he was “guilty as charged” in his support of what he described as traditional marriage.

“We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles,” Cathy said.

The fast food chain’s in-your-face Christian values weren’t exactly news even then. Forbes ran a story on The Cult of Chick-fil-A in 2007 and its stores closing on Sunday to allow workers to attend church.

Rather, it was Dan Cathy’s reaffirmation of his firm’s same-sex marriage stance that set off a wave of protests, with LGBT kiss-ins at Chick-fil-A stores and even some lampooning via music video, with three drag queens skewering Chick-fil-A to the tune of Wilson Phillips’ “Hold On.” (Sample lyric: Some day somebody’s gonna make you wanna gobble up a waffle fry / But no go, don’t you know, Chick-fil-A says you make the baby Jesus cry.)

Now, almost two years later, Dan Cathy — a self-described evangelical Christian — says he made a mistake.

In a rare and wide-ranging interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Cathy admitted his anti-equality stance probably wasn’t a wise business decision, regretting “making the company a symbol in the marriage debate:”

“Every leader goes through different phases of maturity, growth and development, and it helps by [recognizing] the mistakes that you make,” Cathy said. “And you learn from those mistakes. If not, you’re just a fool. I’m thankful that I lived through it and I learned a lot from it.”

Cathy agreed that the “lingering identity” of Chick-fil-A with “anti-gay groups” that jumped to its defense in 2012 has meant “alienating market segments.”

“Consumers want to do business with brands that they can interface with, that they can relate with,” Cathy said. “And it’s probably very wise from our standpoint to make sure that we present our brand in a compelling way that the consumer can relate to.”

Cathy himself hasn’t changed his own views on same-sex marriage. As he told the AJC: “I think the time of truths and principles are captured and codified in God’s word, and I’m just personally committed to that. I know others feel very different from that, and I respect their opinion, and I hope that they would be respectful of mine.”

What is clear is that his family’s fried chicken business, which made $4.6 billion in sales in 2012, will be staying out of the fray when it comes to equality.

“I think that’s a political debate that’s going to rage on,” he told the Journal-Sentinel. “And the wiser thing for us to do is to stay focused on customer service.”

Read more about the billionaire Cathys, including charitable donations to anti-gay-marriage groups, here.

—  Steve Ramos

Mayor Rawlings backs equality resolution before Wednesday vote

Mayor Mike Rawlings speaks during an LGBT Pride Month Reception at City Hall in June 2011.

Mayor Mike Rawlings speaks during an LGBT Pride Month Reception at City Hall in June 2011.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings plans to support the LGBT equality resolution when it goes before the full council during a briefing Wednesday.

“Mayor Rawlings supports the resolution in its current form,” Rawlings spokesman Sam Merten emailed to Dallas Voice.

Councilmembers will debate the resolution Wednesday and can make changes to the measure.

After fighting the marriage equality resolution last year, calling it a “misuse” of council time and blocking it from the agenda, Rawlings placed the current resolution on the agenda for this week. But he delayed the vote a week so the council could ask legal questions in executive session last week.

LGBT advocates showed up in red to urge the council to support the resolution, which is expected to pass with 13 votes now that Rawlings is in favor. Councilmembers Vonciel Jones Hill and Sheffie Kadane, who’ve both spoken out against the LGBT community based on religious views, are sure to vote against the measure. Kadane voted against the resolution in committee.

Supporters are encouraged to pack the 9 a.m. meeting again Wednesday dressed in red.

The resolution is a comprehensive statement of support that instructs city staff to fix inequities that exist for LGBT employees. Staff will report to the Finance, Budget and Audit Committee quarterly and changes requiring a vote will have to be approved by the council.

The “resolution supporting equal rights for the employees of the City of Dallas, citizens within the City of Dallas, and visitors to the City of Dallas to address disparate treatment, if any, of  lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons,” the agenda states about the item.

The resolution, below, has a few minor revisions explaining the process of the city manager and city staff to implement changes. Staff is encouraged to make administrative changes and bring others before committee and then the council for final approval.

“The resolution itself does not change any existing City procedure or ordinance, nor does the resolution itself authorize any actions or expenditures,” the agenda item reads.  ”Rather, the resolution directs the City Manager and the City Council’s appointees to the pension boards to explore actions to further the goals of the resolution and initiate any necessary processes through the appropriate channels to amend City policies, procedures, or ordinances. The City Manager or his designee is directed to report quarterly to the Budget, Finance and Audit Committee to keep City Council informed of progress toward implementing this resolution and any proposed actions. Any changes to existing City ordinances or expenditures of funds will require further City Council action.”

Read the resolution below.

—  Dallasvoice

Disney ends funding to Boy Scouts over gay policy

Unknown-1LOS ANGELES  — The Walt Disney Company will cut funding to the Boy Scouts of America beginning in 2015 because of a policy that bans gay adult leaders in the organization, The Associated Press reported.

The Boy Scouts organization is “disappointed” by the decision, which will affect the organization’s ability to serve children, Deron Smith, a Boy Scouts spokesman, said in a statement Sunday. Disney does not provide direct funding to the Boy Scouts, but it donates money to some troops in exchange for volunteer hours completed by Disney employees, he said.

“We believe every child deserves the opportunity to be a part of the Scouting experience and we are disappointed in this decision because it will impact our ability to serve kids,” he said.

David Jefferson, chief spokesman for The Walt Disney Company, did not respond to calls or emails.

Disney’s decision came to light after the president of a local Boy Scout council based in Orlando, Fla., where Disney World is based, sent a memo alerting local troops to the decision.

The memo was posted on the website of Scouts for Equality, an organization that is critical of the Boy Scouts’ policy to ban adult gay troop leaders.

The Boy Scouts lifted a ban on gay youth last year.

—  Steve Ramos

Lobbyist drafts bill to ban gays from NFL

Jack-Burkman-Photo

Jack Burkman

Washington lobbyist Jack Burkman on Monday said he is preparing legislation that would ban gay athletes from joining the National Football League, The Hill reported.

Burkman in a statement said he has garnered political support for the bill, though his statement didn’t mention any specific lawmakers who are behind it.

”We are losing our decency as a nation,” Burkman said in a statement. “Imagine your son being forced to shower with a gay man. That’s a horrifying prospect for every mom in the country. What in the world has this nation come to?”

Burkman said he came up with the idea after college football star Michael Sam publicly revealed he is gay a few weeks ago. If drafted, Sam would be the first openly gay player in the NFL.

Jason Collins on Sunday became the first openly gay athlete to play for a major men’s professional sports team when he suited up for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets against the Los Angeles Lakers.

A number of Democratic lawmakers voiced their support of Sam after he revealed his sexual orientation in an interview with ESPN, and first lady Michelle Obama hailed him as an “inspiration.”

Burkman was not available to speak with The Hill, but in his statement, he urged Congress to act.

“If the NFL has no morals and no values, then Congress must find values for it,” Burkman said.

Burkman serves as founder and president of his own lobbying firm, Burkman Associates. He has also worked as of counsel at law firm Holland & Knight. In the 1990s, he served as counsel to then-Rep. Rick Lazio (R-N.Y.).

Burkman’s firm, JM Burkman & Associates, signed 70 new clients last year, the most of any K Street firm, a recent review by The Hill found.

The four-lobbyist firm specializes in helping companies secure contracts with the federal government.

—  Steve Ramos