Prior to the recent Love Won Out conference in Phoenix, Focus on the Family tried to purchase space on billboards owned by media communications company Clear Channel. The billboards were to bear the organization’s familiar drumbeat “I questioned homosexuality: Change is Possible, Discover How.” Clear Channel declined.
Speaking on behalf of Focus on the Family, Melissa Fryrear said “the advertising company had turned down the business, but as of Monday, its lawyers had not received an explanation for the decision.” Clear Channel is a publicly traded company, and while they do own TV and radio stations, the Focus ad request was for billboard space. Billboards do not involve publicly owned airwaves, nevertheless Focus has apparently involved their attorneys in the matter.
For its part, Clear Channel said that “local managers reserve the right to reject advertising copy if it does not meet their community’s standards for appropriateness or the copy is deemed offensive towards any business, group or individual.” Fryrear argued that there is nothing objectionable about a message which gives an alternative to those dissatisfied with “living homosexually.” Apparently Ms. Fryrear does not acknowledge the possibility that saying gays and lesbians are simply “living homosexually” could be objectionable.
Does Focus on the Family support the free speech rights of Clear Channel? Perhaps Clear Channel is simply taking the advice of the American Family Association in their threats to Ford and Walmart, that they should remain “neutral in the cultural battles.” If so, America’s corporations should take note, you’re damned if you do and your damned if you don’t.