02/24/2012 11:35 am ET Updated Feb 24, 2012

Same-Sex Marriage Is 'Fake,' Claims New Conservative Campaign

WASHINGTON -- Citing concerns that 2012 could be the "tipping point" in the debate over same-sex marriage, Family Research Council leader Tony Perkins launched a new campaign this week that warns of schoolchildren being indoctrinated, people losing religious freedoms and lives being "ruined by deception" if marriage equality were to become federal law.

In a Wednesday email to supporters, the leader of the conservative Christian organization asks for donations to help stop the Commitment Campaign, a marriage equality initiative launched late last year by Third Way, a centrist Democrat group. Perkins says the Family Research Council will put the money toward spreading "compelling facts" about same-sex marriage on Capitol Hill.

"I recently mailed you a letter warning about 'The Commitment Campaign.' This campaign is a new, deceptively-named effort to help Washington liberals impose same-sex 'marriage' -- fake 'marriage,' to put it accurately -- on all of America," Perkins wrote.

"I hope you will take this opportunity to learn more -- and help FRC counter this effort to force the affirmation of same-sex 'marriage' on every state ... every county ... every city ... every public school ... and almost every workplace in America. Mandating legal same-sex 'marriage' from the top-down will change every institution and the cultural fabric of America. It must, and can, be stopped."

The email directs people to a new Family Research Council website that gives three reasons why "fake" same-sex marriage won't work. First, because children in public schools will be taught that gay couples are "virtuous" and anyone who disagrees will be considered "bigots." Second, because Christian-run wedding businesses will be "pressured to compromise their views or face crushing legal consequences." Third, because gay couples are known for their "promiscuity, mental and physical health problems, and other turmoil."

"That is not message of hate, as homosexual activists claim," the site reads. "Ours is a message of fact-based, loving concern for all, including those trapped in homosexuality. Silence is not loving. Your donation will help FRC speak the truth in love."

The site also features a two-minute video of Family Research Council leaders warning about the Commitment Campaign against the backdrop of spooky music. The video refers to Third Way's campaign as "a well-funded elite" that plans to make 2012 the year that same-sex marriage "is imposed from the top down" against the will of states. To back up that claim, it flashes a clip of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) referring to legislation to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act as "a big step forward."

"Who will speak for you?" asks the video's narrator. "The Family Research Council is responding."

The group's website appears hastily thrown together; it misspells Dianne Feinstein's first name in the video, and also warns that people will "loose religious freedoms" if same-sex marriage becomes federal law. A request for comment from the Family Research Council about the timing of its campaign was not returned.

Lanae Erickson, deputy director of social policy and politics at Third Way, considered it a compliment that the Family Research Council is waging war against her organization's marriage equality campaign. So far, Third Way's effort, which focuses on building support for same-sex marriage among moderates and independents, has drawn the support of political figures including the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, Ken Mehlman; Republican Christine Todd Whitman, a former New Jersey governor and ex-Environmental Protection Agency administrator; and Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, a Democrat.

"We take the fact that marriage opponents feel they must respond to our efforts as a good sign; it means our message is gaining traction," Erickson said. "Third Way's Commitment Campaign brings together Americans from both sides of the aisle to support one common value -- that committed gay couples who want to make a lifetime promise to care for each other should be able to do so."