Backers of the Ban, Part 3: Meet the Family Research Institute

This is the third entry in an ongoing series that explores the organizations and leaders pushing the civil unions and marriage ban. Earlier, I wrote about Ralph Ovadal and his Pilgrims Covenant Church and the Wisconsin Marriage Defenders.

The Family Research Institute of Wisconsin is the largest and most visible state organization backing the ban. Their mission is to “forward Judeo-Christian principles and values in Wisconsin.” According to their website, they partner with other state and national groups, including Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, Alliance Defense Fund, and others.

While they share a name with Paul Cameron's Colorado-based Family Research Institute, our FRI's executive director Julaine Appling has disavowed any connection.

The Family Research Institute also appears to be a central force behind the Wisconsin Coalition for Traditional Marriage, which was launched in November 2004 but so far has been relatively quiet about the ban. Their site also hasn't been updated for many months.

Although passing the civil unions and marriage ban is one of FRI's chief concerns, they also focus on other issues, including: abstinence-only education, reproductive rights, school vouchers, euthanasia, stem cell research. This webpage lists legislation FRI has tracked in the 2005-06 session.

The organization has a built-in statewide communication network through Christian radio stations. Executive director Julaine Appling records a weekly commentary that airs on at least 27 stations. On the FRI website, you can read or listen to Appling’s archived commentaries.

Here are a few excerpts.

March 20, 2006:
And after polygamy? Well, there's polyamory, or group marriage, three-way, four- way, even five-way relationships. The most recent Midwest Alternative Polyamory Conference was held near Prairie du Chien this past September. Polyamorists see themselves as a community lacking mainstream cultural acceptance and legal standing, much like the homosexual movement 40 and 50 years ago. They are following the path blazed by homosexual activists and right now are just raising awareness of themselves.
January 16, 2006:
You have to give the anti-traditional-family people, in particular the pro-homosexuals, their due. If nothing else, they are persistent and creative. If they can't get what they want using the normal and appropriate means, they nearly always find a way to get around the system and ultimately achieve their goal.
October 10, 2005:
This is what those bent on destroying marriage don't understand. Marriage isn't just a basketful of benefits; nor is it simply about love and commitment, though those are important components. Properly expressed, marriage is a deep spiritual union; it's a beautiful picture of Christ, the bridegroom and His bride, the Church; it's a uniting of body, soul and spirit in a oneness that has no earthly parallel.
May 23, 2005:
The most egregious part of this lawsuit is the blatant attempt by homosexuals to, once again, use the court system to get their way. Like petulant children who have repeatedly been told no, they look for ways to circumvent the groups that have heretofore blocked them: citizens and state legislatures.
Feb. 14, 2005:
The assault is on. Late last month, led by Action Wisconsin, the main pro- homosexual activist organization in Wisconsin, a group of people practicing and advocating homosexuality, came to Madison to lobby their legislators to vote against Wisconsin's proposed constitutional amendment that would clearly define marriage in this state as being only between one man and one woman. Of course they got press. We already know that the media never misses an opportunity to give more than ample time in print and pictures to these events and people who represent, by their own admission, somewhere between 2 and 3 per cent of the total population.
A few months ago, FRI distributed 4,000 copies of a DVD, The Battle for Marriage, to churches across Wisconsin. In March, they claimed that they were set to distribute thousands of brochures across the state.

In May, FRI sponsored a pastor's summit that featured speeches from the Alliance Defense Fund and Representative Mark Gundrum, among others. You can view these speeches from FRI's homepage.

Looking forward, when Appling talks to the news media, she regularly says two things: that her organization will spend as much as it takes to win and that national organizations will be providing her campaign non-monetary support. But she also recently told WPR that she expects hefty amounts of out-of-state money to pour in to "yes" campaign coffers.

Later this summer, we’ll provide more detail about the motivations behind FRI’s activities. In the meantime, for those of you just starting to read the blog, here are links to previous posts about FRI and their support of the ban:
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