Dobson speaks against gay marriage, falls off stage
October 06 2004 12:00 AM ET
Thousands attended a rally in Sioux City, Iowa, to hear Christian psychologist James Dobson condemn gay marriage. During the Take a Stand for Marriage rally on Sunday, Dobson--an author, radio host, and founder of the national group Focus on the Family--talked about same-sex marriage and judicial activism. He said that 70% of voters have shown at the polls that they don't want the government to allow same-sex marriages.
"Now judges are telling us they want to redefine the definition of marriage. We say, not in our lifetime," Dobson told the crowd. The Evangelical Christian said the attack on marriage under way in the United States has prompted him to tour the nation for a variety of speaking engagements. Dobson added he had not delivered a speech in Iowa since 1975.
After his speech, Dobson fell off the six-foot-high stage and had to have five stitches for a gash above his right ankle. Paul Hetrick, vice president of media relations for Focus on Family, said Dobson was treated at the event site and later examined at Mercy Medical Center. "It could have been a lot worse, and we are regarding it as a real blessing," Hetrick said. Hetrick said Dobson's vision was impaired by spotlights focused on him during his speech and that he was not able to see where two platforms met when he walked across the dark stage.
Organizers said Dobson was drawn to Iowa by the November ruling of Iowa district judge Jeffrey Neary terminating the civil union of a lesbian Sioux City couple joined in Vermont. The Iowa Family Policy Center, sponsor of the rally, is the group whose legal arm appealed Neary's dissolution decree. Dobson said the court system is determined to allow same-sex marriages, led by activist judges who are creating laws rather than interpreting them. He encouraged the audience to voice their opinions by voting and "maybe find some of these people another line of work."
"I don't mean to be disrespectful, but you've got one of them right here, Judge Jeffrey Neary," Dobson said at the rally.
The Judicial Accountability Group, a political action committee formed in September to try to unseat Neary, had information tables at the event entrance and distributed printed materials asking residents to vote against retaining Neary. Neary told The Sioux City Journal that he is not an activist judge and is not out to change the definition of marriage. He said he was simply resolving a dispute between two parties. Dobson "is dead wrong if he thinks I favor same-sex marriages or same-sex unions. The truth of the matter is, I don't. I am just as firm a believer as he is in the sanctity of traditional marriage," Neary said.
Outside the event, about 18 protesters gathered. "We are letting people know in Siouxland that not everyone agrees with what is being preached inside the events center today. We are letting people know we believe in marriage equality and equal rights for every American," Jason Morgan, 34, of Sioux City, said as he waved a rainbow flag. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, also spoke at the event.