Focus on the Family, Dobson Defend Support for Colorado Benefits Bill

Evangelical ministry Focus on the Family is explaining its support for a Colorado bill, following criticism that it gives some rights to same-sex couples.

In recent statements, Focus founder Dr. James Dobson and the government lobbying arm of the Colorado Springs-based ministry have noted that the bill in question addresses the issue of “fairness” in obtaining certain benefits for a pair of people who want them. He has denied he supports "gay marriage," civil unions, or domestic partnerships.

“What this bill is that we have endorsed is a fairness bill with regard to need, not sexual relationships,” said Dobson in a recent broadcast of the Focus on the Family radio program.

Senate Bill 266, sponsored by state Sen. Shawn Mitchell (R-District 23) would give any two adults not eligible to marry – including gay couples – easy access to certain benefits already available through legal contracts, including hospital visitation rights and authorization for medical treatment.

Critics of the bill include gay activists who say that the bill does not go far enough in guaranteeing “marriage equality” as well as lesser-known conservative Christians such as the Family Research Institute’s Dr. Paul Cameron, and separately, Andrew Longman, a writer on the website of former conservative presidential candidate Alan Keyes. Longman's criticisms were followed by apologies by both Keyes and the writer.

"I'm used to getting beaten from the radicals, from the left. I deal with that because that goes with the territory," Dobson said on his radio program, according to the Associated Press. "I really find it very difficult to be attacked in such an unfair way from conservatives who claim to follow the cause of Christ."

Focus says that two people who are close such as family members and friends should not be treated differently when it comes to medical decision making or estate planning.

"They should not be singled out for special discrimination, nor should they be singled out for special rights and benefits either," said Jim Pfaff a Focus spokesman, according to Family News in Focus.

However, because the legislation could give those special rights and benefits to gay couples, Cameron maintains his opposition to the bill, saying that gay people are more prone to crime and disease and should not be entitled to similar rights as married people because they don’t have children, according to AP.

But Focus believes the “reciprocal-beneficiary” bill they support will address the issue of benefits separately from marriage.

"Homosexual activists in Colorado are strongly opposing this bill because they realize it will unmask their arguments for same-sex marriage," said Peter Brandt, senior director of government and public policy, noting that critics of the bill include gay activists.

“With this common-sense alternative on the table, same-sex marriage proponents can no longer hide behind their 'benefits' argument."