The American Family Association has announced today that the organization’s founder and longtime leader, Donald Wildmon, has resigned after more than 30 years as chairman of what has long been one of the leading anti-gay organizations in the country.
According to a press release, Wildmon has resigned due to ongoing health concerns caused after he was bitten last summer by a mosquito carrying the St. Louis encephalitis virus. Wildmon said that he will continue to work with AFA, and that his son, Tim, who has been with the organization for 24 years, is expected to succeed him as chair.
According to the press release: “The retired United Methodist minister [Donald Wildmon] began AFA in 1977 in his dining room with a typewriter and a used offset press. Today the ministry operates on a $20 million annual budget with 175 employees. The ministry owns and operates 180 radio stations, a monthly magazine with a circulation of 170,000 and an internet presence of 2.5 million supporters.”
Here are just a few examples of how Wildmon has used his budget and his influence to try and stall LGBT rights:
• Wildmon is first national religious leader to call on GOP officeholders to purge their staffs of LGBT people after the Congressman Mark Foley scandal in 2006.
• Wildmon calls on his supporters to take action against McDonald’s after the fast food chain joins the National GLBT Chamber of Commerce in 2008.
•Wildmon and his AFA troops worked to pass Proposition 8 in California in 2008.
• Wildmon called for a boycott of PepsiCo because the company supported gay rights.
The list goes on and on. Just do an Internet search for “Wildmon” and “gay” and see what pops up. I did, and got hundreds of results.
So, is Donald Wildmon’s resignation from AFA cause for celebration in the LGBT community? Probably not. I am sure his son will follow in the father’s footsteps. But I guess we can always hope that Tim Wildmon isn’t as charismatic (or whatever) as his father, and AFA’s influence and network of followers might diminish. It’s a slim chance, probably, but even slim hope is better than none.