March 4, 1997: Right back at you, Ralph Reed.
As Dr. Laura's omnipresence on the airwaves reminds us, the antigay religious right has a loud voice in America. Three years ago Advocate correspondent John Gallagher reminded readers that the Christian right was relying on a new public relations approach to recoup some of the ground it had recently lost. Rather than using the same old vociferous attacks on gays and lesbians, conservative Christians were following the lead of Ralph Reed, then head of the Christian Coalition, by assuming a less militant stance in their discussion. But if conservative-activists were speaking more softly, they were still wielding the same antigay sticks. "Even though the religious right is waging no battles that are currently attracting attention at the national level, its leaders are laying the groundwork for future fights," Gallagher wrote, especially through clout in the Republican Party. In addition, sociologist William Martin, author of With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America, commented that religious-right leaders had said that "they are more interested in school boards than the White House, because government near where people live is more likely to affect the culture." But Martin also warned that the softened rhetoric should not be taken less seriously, adding that religious-right activists "are a relatively permanent and important force on the American political landscape, and those who think they are going away, are just wishing it."