Ailing from months of hospitalization that stemmed from a mosquito bite, the American Family Association's Donald W. Wildmon, a formidable foe of gay rights activists, stepped down Wednesday after serving as chairman for more than 30 years.
"The resignation comes following several months of hospitalization," reads an AFA press release. "A bite from a mosquito carrying the St. Louis encephalitis virus caused Wildmon’s illness."
"From August to November of last year Wildmon spent 121 days in the hospital and rehab. In addition to the St. Louis encephalitis, he underwent surgery for cancer on his left eye," it adds.
The former United Methodist minister Wildmon and his group are widely known for their vigorous opposition to gay rights, and gay marriage in particular. Wildom's son Tim will is now expected to take on the role as chairman of AFA, the group says.
On the AFA Web site, Wildmon touts the group's "Opposition to the Homosexual Agenda," lamenting "the movement to normalize homosexual behavior" in the United States.
Blogger Pam Spaulding on Monday said Wildom holds the "bigotry throne," while assailing a recent blog post at the AFA page called, "Homosexual agenda or the Constitution: take your pick because you can't have both." The AFA post claimed that "[t]he homosexual agenda represents a clear and present danger to virtually every fundamental right given to us by our Creator and enshrined for us in our Constitution."
Spaulding called it "a poorly designed attempt to pull in some younger anti-gay sheep to fleece, but it still turns out drivel that is completely batsh*t."
The LGBT Web site Dallas Voice's Tammye Nash notes in a blog post the various ways Wildmon has channeled his resources against gay rights.
Wildmon is first national religious leader to call on GOP officeholders to purge their staffs of LGBT people after the Congressman Mark Foley scandal in 2006.
Wildmon calls on his supporters to take action against McDonald’s after the fast food chain joins the National GLBT Chamber of Commerce in 2008.
Wildmon and his AFA troops worked to pass Proposition 8 in California in 2008.
Wildmon called for a boycott of PepsiCo because the company supported gay rights.
Nash adds, "So, is Donald Wildmon’s resignation from AFA cause for celebration in the LGBT community? Probably not. I am sure his son will follow in the father’s footsteps."
The watchdog group Media Transparency in 2008 documented Wildom's "anti-gay politics," that they claimed were embedded in AFA's vehement support for California's Proposition 8, which ultimately succeeded and thereby banned gay marriage in the state.
"Does AFA Hate Homosexuals?" reads a post on the AFA Web site, disputing the claim:
Absolutely Not! The same Holy Bible that calls us to reject sin, calls us to love our neighbor. It is that love that motivates us to expose the misrepresentation of the radical homosexual agenda and stop its spread though our culture. AFA has sponsored several events reaching out to homosexuals and letting them know there is love and healing at the Cross of Christ.