10 Things We Learned about the National Organization For Marriage in 2012
December 20, 2012, by Jeremy Hooper
10. NOM knows it has a "next generation" problem
This year, NOM really ratcheted up the role of young person Thomas Peters, the org's Cultural Director. All year long, Thomas teased a "next generation" project he is working on. With no obvious Carrie Prejeans out there to recruit, NOM is clearly putting effort into finding voices that will bely every poll out there. They know they need to craft an illusion, since the reality shows marriage equality gaining support every single day that a new voter turns eighteen.
We know NOM's felt this way since at least 2009, when the guiding voices sought to recruit "glamorous non-cognitive elites" to tout the NOM message. In 2012, they tried (and I would argue failed) to ratchet it up. Expect a more aggressive attempt in 2013, when the long-gestating NOM Next Gen project might actually come out of the gate.
9. The organization is determined to make gay-headed families seem harmful and will cite any skewed data to do so
One of the most surprising things in 2012 was the way the organization went beyond marriage and began attacking the very idea of the LGBT-headed family. From highlighting isolated stories of conservative adults who weave narratives of gay-initiated woe in order to serve their political viewpoints to taking obviously flawed survey data from researchers with obviously biased motivations and pretending that data is sound science, NOM really proved that its work is not just about stopping same-gender couples from obtaining the civil marriage contract. The agenda is much more personal.
8. Affiliate director Jennifer Roback Morse has no problem showing org's obvious animus
Whoa, on this one. And I really mean it—Whoa!
From admitting that she wants to make gay people celibate to recruting extreme voices to speak at her annual conferences, Jennifer Roback Morse really unbuttoned her already-loose lips in 2012. There was that Thanksgiving video that was little more than an attack on gay resident advisors at American universities. There was that post-election analysis in which she declared "there really isn't any future in sodomy." She also said homosexuality is "intrinsically disordered behavior" and claimed gays are "at war with Mother Nature." And so on and so forth. More of it can be found here.
This all coming from someone who collects a six figure salary from NOM and heads up the key project of the NOM Education Fund. Educate us about the true NOM agenda, Ms. Roback Morse surely did!
7. There is no situation that they will not twist in order to cast themselves and their supporters as the "victims"
NOM spent much of the year trying to turn its laughable "Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance" into a thing. In any situation where the welfare of LGBT people triumphed over those who wanted an unfettered right to discriminate, NOM found a supposed "victim" and shared his or her story of supposed hardship. In every one of the cases, the story was much different than NOM presented. In one situation, the videos' participants even threatened NOM with a lawsuit for its misrepresentation of the facts. But the project was never about facts in the first place, so NOM went on with its game, undeterred.
The American public is really not buying the idea that those who wish to ban LGBT people are the ones being maligned. But oh, NOM sure as heck tried to flip the script in 2012. Frankly, I would argue that these "anti-defamation" attempts are only making them look worse and even more like responsibility-shirking bullies.
6. Being chairman means never having to say—well, much of anything
As chairman of NOM, Maggie Gallagher was omnipresent. Her successor, John Eastman? Not so much.
In the fifteen months since the man who pushed Scott Lively's "ex-gay" advocacy as simply a "common-sense suggestion" for dealing with gays took the key NOM gig, he's been essentially absent from the debate. He pops up here and there with a short commentary or a quick talk radio hit. But Eastman's certainly not out there making the case that one would expect of the chairman. Not a big deal, really—just odd.
5. NOM saw no need to wait for President Obama to actually do anything before vowing to "sideswipe" him
This one actually took place in '09, but we only learned about it this year. I'm talking about NOM's vow to "sideswipe Obama," a promise the organization made only three months after the President first took office. You don't get much more partisan (more on that later), cynical, or unhelpful than that!
Look, I understand that certain groups are less-than-thrilled when certain Presidents take office. I've been there personally, and my aligned organizations have absolutely worked to resist the agendas of past administrations. But I can say, with honesty, that most of us at least wait until that incoming President actually puts forth some sort of policy proposal before going after that particular Oval Office. And I would hope that all of us frame our arguments and generalize views in ways more helpful than "sideswiping"!
Not our dear, sweet NOM. "Sideswipe" first; ask questions later (**so long as those questions foster a preconceived outcome).
4. NOM will pretend to support civil unions when it serves the organization's interest
This one drove me crazy at the beginning of the year. NOM, after years of aggressively rejecting civil unions in every state where the idea came up, engaged in some of its worst political duplicity of its short existence when it pretended to support civil unions in New Hampshire. NOM issued press releases, created ads, and hired lobbyists in order to push the illusion that this organization is pro–civil union. I seriously couldn't believe this one, considering I'd personally watched NOM president Brian Brown testify against civil unions when he was president of the Family Institute of Connecticut.
It was obvious why the organization went this direction: (a) Civil unions poll well in blue Hampshire and (b) NOM wanted to frame civil unions as a compromise in order to repeal marriage. It ultimately did not work, and marriage equality remains the law of the New Hampshire land. But wow, what stunning deception!
3. The idea that gays should "change" (or at least be celibate) is very much a part of the NOM DNA
Appearing on "Up with Chris Hayes" in February of the year, NOM co-founder Maggie Gallagher pointedly denied that NOM supports the idea that gays can and should "change." This claim only led equality advocates to dig more, proving Maggie's claim to be part of the usual spin factory that molds NOM's punditry.
No, NOM doesn't make it habit to push programs like Exodus International or directly advocate for "ex-gay" therapists. But virtually every single person who works for NOM has a demonstrated record on this topic. There's the aforementioned Thomas Peters, who has touted a "12 step program for people with same-sex attractions." The aforementioned Jennifer Roback Morse's advocacy is teeming with "change" rhetoric. Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance spokesman Damian Goddard has pushed the Catholic "Courage" organization. And even Brian Brown and Maggie Gallagher have made direct calls for "ex-gayness."
And of course there are the subtle suggestions. When you spend so much time painting gays as unfit for marriage, our families as innately flawed, and our overall "agenda" as a threat to religious freedom everywhere, you are not sending out the idea that the world's LGBT population is a good thing that needs to stick around. In 2012, people really started connecting these dots in new and powerful ways.
2. The organization is a Catholic and conservative Republican organization, in full
With a presidential election dominating the political headlines, NOM had little choice but to weigh in. Weigh in, NOM surely did! After a primary season spent courting all of the Republican candidates sans Ron Paul (with a clear preference for Rick Santorum), NOM went on to endorse Mitt Romney. NOM, working in tandem with Brian Brown's political advocacy organization ActRight, also threw a lot of money at a whole slew of Republican candidates this cycle. Virtually all of them lost. Also lost: the idea that NOM is in any way bi/nonparistan.
But in addition to embracing its obvious GOP-iness, NOM also began to embrace its ingrained Catholicism. All of NOM's top voices (Brown, George, Gallagher, Peters, Roback Morse, Goddard, the Hass family, etc.) are devout Catholics (with Opus Dei ties, in many cases), and I've been arguing for some time that this organization, if honest, would call itself something like "Catholics Against Same-Sex Unions." But for the most part, NOM spent the past years pretending to be a multi-fath operation. That really began to change in 2012. Slowly—and likely due, in large part, to "AmericanPapist" Thomas Peters' increased role—NOM began to show that its connections to local bishops is more than strategic and that its prepondernce of papal references are more than just a fluke.
I view both of these new disclosures to be very good things. Knowing that NOM is an organization guided by both an orthodox Catholic and conservative Republican viewspoint should make future debates more honest, at the very least.
And finally, the real biggie of 2012:
1. NOM will divide any and every human population in order to achieve its cynical goals
This was another one that actually began a few years back but that really came to the forefront in 2012. We all saw the language, first revealed right here on NOM Exposed this past spring, in which NOM vowed to "drive a wedge between gays and blacks" and "provoke the gay base into responding." The admitted goal: "Fanning the hostility raised in the wake of Prop 8."
For someone like me, who has covered NOM with a fine-tooth comb since its very first day of existence, the whole thing was only a confirmation of what I had been saying. In every community where NOM has engaged, the organization has pinpointed whatever minority the organization thinks it can rile up with targeted claims. We NOM Watchers saw it, we just couldn't "prove" that there was a concerted playbook driving the whole thing. That very much changed in 2012. We now know, irrefutably, that dividing certain populations is very much part of the NOM plan. And in that plan, the gays are always the "bad kids" who are somehow threatening or undermining the rights and welfare of [insert minority population].
As the year rounded out, we learned that NOM has purchased several domain names built around the idea that some gays are themselves against marriage equality. Is this the next NOM divide: an intra-LGBT fight over LGBT people's civil rights? We'll have to wait and see. But whatever the next step in the reliably divisive playbook, we'll certainly be ready for it!
Let me end by sending you a hearty "Happy holidays!" NOM watchers. I have an idea: let's all spend the next few days nomming on yummy cookies and slurping up some egg nom nog rather than fighting these outdated "culture wars." Sounds soothing, yes?
But then you best be getting your little booties right back here in 2013! We have a really discriminatory organization to expose. And triumph over, ultimately.