Frank Schubert is wearing his religion on his sleeve, a rarity in his line of work.
Schubert is a longtime political consultant whose clients include tobacco, insurance and an array of other corporate clients. In a fateful move four years ago, he became the brains behind the Proposition 8 campaign to ban same-sex marriage in California.
As a result, new corporate work has dried up. On Tuesday, Schubert sent an email to his friends and associates announcing that he is quitting the Sacramento consulting firm he founded, and is establishing a new firm, Mission: Public Affairs.
As its name implies, he will be devoting the remainder of his career to socially conservative causes and campaigns, notably the defense of traditional marriage and opposition to abortion, especially on the side of Catholic orthodoxy.
"I feel a weight has been lifted from me," Schubert said.
No matter your views, and I disagree with him on marriage and abortion rights, Schubert is formidable. He's one of the best in the business. Sit for a time with Schubert and you'll learn a lot.
The trophy shelf in his L Street office is crowded. Several awards are for his work on Proposition 8. He produced the ad in which now-Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom declared to a cheering crowd in San Francisco that same-sex marriage was becoming a reality.
"It's going to happen, whether you like it or not," Newsom proclaimed, as any Californian who had a television in 2008 will recall. As that ad aired, over and over and over again, support built for the initiative.
Schubert, 56, understands the issue in a personal and nuanced way. He has a sister who is the lesbian co-parent of two children. He loves her, her partner and their children, he said. He doesn't judge her; God is the judge.
"I'm a sinner, like everybody else," he said. "At the end of the day, I believe there is truth. It may not be popular. But that doesn't make it any less true."
Polls show that support for same-sex marriage is increasing. Schubert sees it differently. He leaves next week for North Carolina and Minnesota, states where he will be leading ballot measure campaigns in support of traditional marriage.
Both states will be battlegrounds in the presidential election, which is not lost on Schubert. He worked on an independent campaign for Rick Santorum in Iowa, though he would be happy with Mitt Romney as the GOP nominee. Both have signed a pledge vowing to oppose same-sex marriage.
He believes the issue is especially powerful in North Carolina, where 70 percent of African Americans oppose same-sex marriage. North Carolina is heavily religious, and he summed up the campaign in six words: "God is the author of marriage." In Minnesota, where voters are pragmatic, he put out 50 videos talking about all facets of the issue.
Traditional marriage supporters are becoming, if anything, more emotional.
"They're feeling cornered. They're feeling as if the elite are turning against them," Schubert said. "Elites are softening because they don't want to go against the popular culture."
Business interests would rather Republicans stop talking about social issues. Many Republican candidates would prefer to talk about "cutting taxes for their corporate donors."
He believes they're wrong. Foot soldiers in campaigns are social conservatives. Without them, he believes, Republicans cannot win. My impression is that hard stands on deeply personal issues cost the party moderates, though I'm no high-priced strategist.
Schubert said none of his existing clients deserted him. But he wasn't getting new corporate work. Not that he blames them. It's bad business to get involved in issues that cost business.
Now, he will be working for true believers, including the National Organization for Marriage, which campaigns for traditional marriage around the country.
Last week, a federal judge in Maine released a memo penned by someone in the organization that cynically detailed the strategy of driving a wedge between Democrats who support same-sex marriage and African Americans and Latinos who oppose it. Schubert knew nothing of the memo and called it dumb.
Fred Karger is the gay Republican political operative who retired from his Los Angeles consulting firm and has become a prominent advocate for same-sex marriage. Karger's complaint to the Maine ethics commission in 2009 led to release of the memo.
Karger, a Republican presidential candidate, wonders how Schubert can sleep at night, given the contents of that memo. But he also admires Schubert's ability.
"I was very impressed with his campaign," Karger said. He thought his side should have tried to hire Schubert. That won't happen. Schubert has a calling. Working for tobacco companies is fine, and pays well. But it's hardly a calling.