Thousands of blackbirds and grackles fall from the sky in Arkansas. Millions of dead fish wash up on the beaches of Maryland. Bristol Palin stumbles out of the backseat of a car, pulls her dress back down from over her head and advocates abstinence.
Are these signs that the end of the world is near? Probably not. (Nudge me when something really unbelievable happens, like when would-be governor Dan Maes stops looking like a guy who just nicked his thing with his trouser zipper.)
Because with all the dead birds and dead fish and other craziness swirling around — is it just me, or does our village mayoral race suddenly look like Richard Skorman and the Seven Dwarfs? — some things remain the same.
For example, and here we arrive at what some might call the point of this column, Focus on the Family (motto: "Even Our Circular Arguments Are Straight") recently announced in no uncertain terms that it doesn't care much for gays and lesbians.
The issue is next month's Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., an event partially sponsored by Focus on the Family's political lobbying group, CitizenLink. (Focus chose CitizenLink as the name because "Manipulating Our Books So Those IRS Bastards Don't Start Sniffing Around" wouldn't fit on the back of their bowling shirts.)
Also attending the conference will be GOProud, a gay conservative activist organization.
Stepping up to the microphone now — and being careful to keep his lips several feet away because a microphone can, in the wrong light, look like a penis — is CitizenLink spokesman Tom Minnery. He was asked about having a gay and lesbian group at the conference. "We're not happy about it," he told our village's daily newspaper, the Denver Post.
What would make Minnery and his Focus pals happy, of course, is loading every gay and lesbian person into a boat and sending them back where they came from: Key West, Fla.
"They made a mistake," Minnery said of the conference organizers who welcomed GOProud to the event. "We've got to see a better result next year or our participation is in doubt."
In other words, not only don't the Focus folks want to play, they are threatening to take their balls and go home.
Anyway, for more on this I called Gary Schneeberger, Focus on the Family's vice president of media and public relations.
"We don't believe homosexual activity falls in line within God's design of human sexuality," he said.
Which seemed a little odd because I'd only asked, "So, how about them Rockies? Think the bullpen will hold up next season?"
No, really, I had asked Schneeberger about Focus' opposition to sharing the conference with GOProud. In addition to the "God's design" thing, he had plenty more to say.
"In the realm of public policy, we don't believe same-sex marriage is consistent with social conservatism," Schneeberger said. "It's not an issue of gay men or women. It's about our belief that a one-man, one-woman marriage is a bedrock institution for society."
Ah, society. On Dec. 22, President Barack Obama signed the repeal of the long-held "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" military view on homosexuality. This past week, the State Department announced that U.S. passport applications will now be "gender-neutral" and will no longer ask about an applicant's mother and father. Instead, the form will ask about "Parent One" and "Parent Two" in recognition, the State Department said, of "different types of families."
The tide is clearly changing. Focus is not.
"Success or failure in the political realm is not what drives us," Schneeberger says. "Our policy is formed by our faith.
"We pursue it because it's God's design for society."
As a bonus, of course, it keeps those donation envelopes coming in from Focus on the Family's devoted followers. Or at least the ones who have figured out how to lick a stamp.
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