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Critics Say Springs Group Should "Focus on Own Family" After Layoffs

November 18, 2008

Colorado Springs, CO - Focus on the Family, the evangelical conservative ministry based in Colorado Springs, is drawing new criticism after announcing this week that it will lay off about 20 percent of its workforce.

The cutbacks were first reported by the Colorado Independent. They come after the group spent more than a half-million dollars in support of California's Proposition 8, a gay marriage ban that passed earlier this month.

Mark Lewis is a Colorado Springs activist with CSaction.org, which opposed Prop 8.

"If they've got half a million to spend on Prop 8, but then they have to turn around and lay off another 202 people, that sounds like they need to focus on their own family."

Lewis compares Prop 8 to Colorado's Amendment 2, which was also an anti-gay measure. It passed in the early 1990s and was later struck down in court. He predicts groups like Focus are likely to spend a lot more on defending Prop 8 in court.

"They'll probably have enough money to push it all the way to the Supreme Court, but they'll waste all of that money and they'll end up laying off even more people."

The layoffs were announced Monday afternoon and are in addition to 46 announced before the election. At that time, a statement claimed Focus was "accountable to our donors to spend their money in the most cost-effective and productive manner possible."

This week, a company spokesperson refused to discuss funding priorities, including contributions to the Prop 8 effort. Proposition 8 is now being challenged in court by multiple groups.

This story was produced with reporting from Cara DeGette at ColoradoIndependent.com. DeGette is a longtime Colorado journalist who has covered the activities of Focus on the Family for 15 years.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - CO