Days and Slights: This Week in NOM (Feb. 26 - Mar. 3)
March 03, 2012, by Jeremy Hooper
Dear NOM Watcher,
As you may or may not know, NOM built its entire identity off the back of Proposition 8. Maggie Gallagher talks at length about how that ballot campaign took root (on Christmas Eve 2007), how NOM sent Brian Brown to live in CA to get the thing on the ballot and eventually passed, how the organization knew it was the make or break campaign off which to launch their national operation, and how most of the alliances and groundwork that is NOM circa 2012 traces a root back to California circa 2008.
It's not an overstatement to say that without NOM, there would've been no Prop 8, and that without Prop 8, there would've been no NOM (*See this foundational document from February of '08).
Now, obviously those of who value civil equality take great issue with this unfortunate truth, at face value. For this generation of fair-minded Americans, Prop 8 will forever be remembered as a blight. We know that the effort was wholly unprovoked, and that if the other side would've just let the matter play out as it should've (CA legislature passed a marriage bill twice; Supreme Court sided with us; court-tested marriage equality becomes law), then we would live in a less divisive America today. We knew and know Prop 8 as a great mistake.
Also a costly mistake. Because of the effort, proponents and opponents were forced to waste $83.2 million. That's a lot of money at any time in history. During a time of economic peril, especially so. A lot of money that could've gone to any number of deserving causes.
And of course many of us know the effects of Prop 8 on an all-too-personal level, feeling the various and sundry effects that stem from living in a U.S. where civil rights can be turned into popularity contests. Proponents can deny a personal motivation until they are blue in the face. Many of us know that, regardless of motivation, the end result was and is both personal and painful. It's not an abstract conversation for us.
But now consider all of this another way, this time not through the personal lens but rather through the organizational one. Namely: Through the organization that so proudly boasts of its Prop 8 glories.
By putting the matter before voters without doing some objective self-reflection, the Prop 8 champions have opened themselves to a whole host of fair criticisms. I don't mean from our side -- I mean from their own. As courts continue to examine the matter and flesh out how unconstitutional it was to deny same-sex couples of this right, there are surely more than a few people who are starting to wonder why they were ever led to believe that this thing was kosher to begin with. Sure, the anti-equality side spins our court victories as wrong-headed and liberally-motivated, but not everyone who voted for Prop 8 is as receptive to the other side's talking point robot. There are surely more than a few who are wondering why they forked over so much cash for and wasted so much time on something that was never right to being with.
These and related questions ultimately fall back on NOM. During those days, when the germ of this idea scratched the NOM brain, those at the helm had a responsibility to ably articulate what this would truly mean for California. With such an incredibly large ask with such (a)historical implications, a heightened degree of care and concern were in order. Ideally, this period of looking inward would've led the decision makers to nix the effort, as they would've seen it as vulnerable if not intrinsically fated for legal smack down (many of us were certainly saying that, and even CA Supreme Court's then-chief justice, Ronald George, dropped hints). But even if they couldn't or wouldn't let obvious concerns trump their personally-held desires, those early proponents (i.e. NOM) had an obligation to be as honest about the lay of the land as the reality of a political campaign would allow them to be.
But as we all know, the "protect marriage" campaigns don't exist anywhere near the ballpark of obvious. Ever. The other side has built such a multi-layered cabbage of claims to use against us in these kinds of campaigns that any and all rational conversation about marriage, how its denial affects same-sex couples, and the concrete legalities surrounding the same are shot down in favor of unrelated fears about children's books. Heck, in these negligent efforts, there's no room to even admit that the crystal clear goal is to ban same-sex marriage, much less room for a nuanced adult conversation about equal protection under the law! It's bad enough that they strip us of rights, but the intellect that they've stripped from the associated debate adds an extra level of insult!
All of the Prop 8 proponents did and said whatever they thought would work, because they wanted this electoral victory. But for NOM, it went even further. NOM wanted to become a national player. Brian and Maggie wanted job$ for the next couple of years. NOM wanted to turn a California example into a fifty state bellwether. The only way for this to happen was for NOM to rally just enough of the hyper-motivated Californians from their side to eke out a slim majority -- whatever the cost. Whatever the fallout. Whether anyone liked it or not.
As this history plays out and incoming generations start knowing Prop 8 for what it is and always was, we can't let America forget who we have to blame for Prop 8. The recognizable ignobility of the Prop 8 effort is only going to grow. NOM -- there from day one, still here largely because of what happened on election day -- deserves a hefty portion of the scrutiny!
NOM's new 'morality': Calling homosexuality a 'disgusting lifestyle' that will destroy society
I was not in any way surprised to learn that NOM has gotten involved in the special election for a New York state Senate seat that's taking place of March 20. I said back in January that Republican David Storobin was on track to become the org's next New York star, so it was in no way shocking to see NOM running ads in the Jewish press in support of Storobin's candidacy and in opposition to the pro-equality Democrat, Lew Fidler.
What was shocking? To see that NOM partnered on the effort with the so-called "Jews For Morality" and one of its prominent supporters, Rabbi Yisroel Besky. Why do I call that alliance shocking? Well, because this very same Jews For Morality team (led by a man named Joseph Hayon) has issued a related letter about the Storobin/Fidler matchup. And in this other letter, NOM's chief "Vote Storobin!" field team (including Rabbi Belsky) has some pretty hostile things to say about LGBT people:
This is morality? This is the rhetoric with which NOM is cooperating? This NOM fight is only about marriage with no personal animus attached?
Sure, NOM. And I'm really a fan of yours who's simply out to protect the sanctity of snarky opp. research. Uh huh. Riiiiiight.
Another kind of "rails=off" moment came this week in the form of a NOM Blog graphic. For a hyperbole-filled call to action, NOM ran this graphic and text:
Our opponents are hungrier and stronger than they have ever been in their brutal attacks on traditional marriage and we cannot let them redefine us. We will stand up and fight to maintain our traditional beliefs and protect the most sacred institution of them all—one-man one-woman marriage.
Urgent! We Need Your Help! [NOM]
Not sure why NOM thinks that we, the side where no activist is proposing any kind of force being applied to priests and their own religious ceremonial decision-making, want to "censor" people of the cloth. But of course as we've long-established, it doesn't really matter what NOM actually believes. What they care about is making NOM supporters believe certain unfortunate, untrue things. And in this case, they want their potential backers to believe that gays are on the "brutal attack," with priest-proffered, state-granted powers of pronouncement being our chief target.
Their abject misrepresentations would be comical if they weren't so damn damaging.
Dear Maryland: Your lawmakers and Governor no longer matter. Love, Brian Brown
The war on reality continued in Maryland, where Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley signed the state's marriage bill into law this week. Although NOM is championing a referendum on the matter (through a local vehicle called the Maryland Marriage Alliance) presumably because they see the marriage law as both meaningful and symbolic of our future, NOM prez Brian Brown told readers this week that the MD action was nothing but a "meaningless, symbolic act."
Brian tried to discredit the historic development because he's determined to convince America that legislatures don't matter (unless they're passing an anti-gay amendment), Governor pen strokes don't matter (unless they come from Chris Christie while vetoing a passed bill), and courts certainly don't matter (they're actually pretty consistent on that one). To NOM, the only thing that apparently matters in this representative, constitutional America of ours is what "the people" have to say in a direct ballot type of situation. How the citizens voted in the elections that chose the Maryland legislators and the state's Governor? Pish posh. Until "THE PEOPLE™" have had a chance to let their largely faith-motivated opinions known, everything else is "meaningless." Take that, government process!
Forget gays. At this point, it just might be civics teachers who are most annoyed with NOM's aggressive view!
Ran from ME, couldn't ultimately hide
Although the biggest NOM news of the week came in a much more peaceful, fair-minded, fair government package. On Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States denied NOM's appeal in their ongoing attempt (National Organization for Marriage v. McKee) to hide the donors that helped veto marriage in Maine back in 2009. This means that in a number of days, those of us who value transparency and proper compliance are on track to learn a few more things about NOM's reliably shady electoral practices. And since they have been so immensely combative on this Maine matter, we expect to learn a few not-so-wonderful things (from NOM's view) about the who's and how's of this aggressive organization. Stay tuned for that!!
Until next week, my fully disclosed readers,
NOM Exposed/Good As You