Meet Frank Schubert, the Face of Anti-Gay, Ballot-Based Bigotry

frank_schubertToday, the New York Times ran a profile written by Erik Eckholm about infamous anti-equality crusader Frank Schubert (left), a former corporate public relations executive who now devotes his life to denying LGBT people the freedom to marry. Schubert was tapped in 2008 to run the successful campaign to pass California’s Proposition 8, which stripped the marriage rights of same-sex couples, and he has had his hands in every marriage discrimination ballot initiative since.

Schubert isn’t nearly as well-known as Maggie Gallagher or Brian Brown, but he’s every bit as dangerous. He’s brilliant at crafting campaign messaging, his brand of anti-LGBT bigotry is subtler and more insidious than most other proponents of marriage discrimination (read: broader mainstream appeal), and he’s totally ruthless: he lays low and works through surrogates in the conservative political and faith communities for most of the campaign, then jumps in full-force at the last minute, flooding the airwaves with smiling children accompanied by ominous (and factually inaccurate) warnings about how much they’ll be harmed if marriage discrimination isn’t enshrined in the constitution. Remember the infamous “Princess” ad from the Prop 8 campaign? (If not, watch it below.) It was masterminded by Frank Schubert.

If you’re passionate about and/or engaged in the fight for marriage equality, you need to read Eckholm’s profile and get to know Frank Schubert.

From the NYT article:

Gay rights leaders despise Mr. Schubert, who has devoted himself to the issue in recent years, for what they call his misleading arguments. They have also learned to fear him for messages that are less openly harsh than those voiced by many other opponents of gay rights: a strategy aimed at reassuring the moderate voters who decide such elections that barring gays and lesbians from marriage does not make them bigots.

Citing polls showing growing public acceptance and armed with more than $25 million, gay rights leaders hope to win their first ballot victory for same-sex marriage on Nov. 6. But they are bracing for a rush of Schubert-designed television ads in the four contested states.

“Everyone has a right to love who they choose,” says an ad now running in Minnesota, “but nobody has a right to redefine marriage.”

It’s abundantly clear that Schubert, who makes his living designing slick PR campaigns intended to make Americans feel comfortable casting a vote that hurts their LGBT family members, friends, and neighbors, believes his own propaganda. His personal life — he has a lesbian sister who is raising two children with a committed partner – reflects the same cognitive dissonance conveyed in his advertisements. Despite the fact that he works tirelessly to make sure his sister and her partner remain legal strangers, he insisted to Eckholm that his anti-equality crusade is not motivated by animus. “It’s hurtful to know that many people think I dislike gays and lesbians and wish them harm,” Schubert said.

Thus far, Schubert’s crusade has been spectacularly successful. Brian Brown, whose National Organization for Marriage keeps Schubert on retainer, praised him as “the best in the business.” And the business is a lucrative one indeed — the NYT reports that Schubert is making between $10,000 and $20,000 a month from each of the anti-equality campaigns he’s running this year (in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington State), as well as a commission on every one of his radio and TV ads.

For the complete picture, head over to the New York Times’ website and read Eckholm’s important article in full. The only thing missing is a discussion about how Schubert manages to sleep at night, knowing that his work is actively harming millions of families like mine, year after year, all across the country.

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  1. Pingback: Schubert-Designed ‘Marriage Equality Harms Kids’ Ad Released in Minnesota | John M. Becker

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