The Rise and Fall of the National Organization for Marriage

Days and Slights: This Week in NOM (Jan. 8 - Jan. 14)

January 13, 2012, by Jeremy Hooper

"Gay-marriage activists are trying to block the GOP from reversing gay marriage in New Hampshire"

Dear NOM Watchers,

To understand the National Organization For Marriage's mindset, one need look no further than the above quote. It comes, verbatim, from Brian Brown's weekly wrap up of NOM news. It is a mutant strain of a self-victimizing misstatement.

The truth, of course, is that New Hampshire currently has state-level marriage equality for same-sex couples, due to the free and fair actions of the state legislature. Back in 2009, the bill was debated for weeks on end, extra religious protections were specifically included to address the wants and perceived needs of same-sex marriage opponents, and Governor John Lynch ultimately made the right choice to sign the bill into law. Since the law's enactment in January of 2010, same-sex couples have been marrying in the state without incident, much less controversy.

But let's go back to the above quip. Look at how it's stated. Yet again, Brian Brown works to pull any and all onus off of his fight against equal rights and place the burden instead on those who are seeking freedom. In Brian's framework, "gay marriage activists" are the supposed adversary standing in the way of a GOP that simply wants to go about its business. Brian makes it sound as if the proposed reversal of the law is a given. A need. Like it's a perfectly understandable legislative procedure that equality activists are irrationally obstructing.

This is how it will always be with NOM, because this is how it HAS to be. The organic script naturally casts NOM, the heterosexist visionaries whose myopic clairvoyance sees room only for those citizens who were born into exclusively opposite-sex-attracted bodies, as the oppressors. Rightfully so. In our world, equality activists have more than ably made the case for why same-sex couples deserve the same exact marital right as their heterosexual fellows. Anyone who takes a reasoned look at the lay of the land sees NOM as the contrived roadblock standing in the way of what could and should be an easy sense of peace. Or at the very least, an honest viewer sees NOM as the antagonist in the prevailing conversation surrounding same-sex marriage, whether or not he or she agrees with the NOM view. The social conservatives are the ones who declared and who foster "culture war," not us.

NOM's one and only way to counter reality is to change reality. Or try to, at least. So instead of "Some within the GOP is trying to block gay marriage activists from reversing a fairly earned right in New Hampshire", NOM says "Gay-marriage activists are trying to block the GOP from reversing gay marriage in New Hampshire." Instead of focusing on deprived civil rights, they stir up faux controversies that cast equality activists as disrespectful to religious freedom. Oh, and of course the obvious: Instead of ban same-sex marriage, they say "protect marriage," a linguistic demand that NOM staffers even admit to right on their very own website!

And worse yet? They play these egregious games of pretend while forcibly cramming their self-affixed "values" label down our throats, with little regard for the virtue of honest assessment. It's all so wrong in so many ways. The only way to right it is to stay one step ahead!

The Santorum slip

Despite NOM's -- and especially Maggie's -- aggressive advocacy on behalf of Rick Santorum, that GOP candidate managed only a weak fifth place finish in this week's New Screen Shot 2012-01-13 At 4.34.33 PmHampshire primary. Though perhaps even more pertinent to our discussion: Ron Paul, who NOM targeted with $50,000 worth of negative ads in the state, managed to over-perform right into second place. Regardless of view of Paul, that electoral success is pretty darn funny from an anti-NOM perspective!

But back to Rick: It's hard not to agree with the pundits from all across the political spectrum who've been sure to mention the truth about the Santorum slip. That is: Rick blew whatever momentum he had coming out of Iowa precisely because he could.not.shut.up about his social issue obsessions. Chief among those obsessions: LGBT people, their rights, and his vow to "invalidate" them. Sure, the easy victor in NH, Mitt Romney, also stands against marriage equality and even signed on to NOM's Marriage Pledge. But few people right now are either supporting or opposing Mitt Romney on the basis of LGBT rights, as the candidate has been relatively mum on the subject. Plus some conservatives who have been noting Mitt's LGBT record have been accusing the former Mass. governor of being too pro-gay, so if there even is an LGBT factor among primary voters, it would seem to work against the frontrunner. But it hasn't. That factor has, however, worked against Santorum.

How will this shake down in the far more conservative South Carolina? Well, as of this writing, Rasmussen has Paul and Santorum tied for third behind Romney (first) and Gingrich (second). So far NOM has not made any anti-Paul expenditures in SC, though they (and particularly Maggie) are still quite enamored with the most sweater-vested of the field. Are they having any impact at all? I say it's negligible, at best. But if they want to keep spending money, who am I judge? After all, we have NC, MN, NJ, MD, NH, and WA (for now) to win.


New Jersey, Washington, and Maryland

Speaking of winning in the states: In the past, we've talked here about Minnesota and North Carolina, two states where NOM is certain to be active in 2012. This week, a few more came to the fore.

Screen Shot 2012-01-13 At 4.34.33 PmNew Jersey: The state is giving a marriage bill another go. Civil unions are not working and it's past time to give couples the same rights and word that their nearby neighbors enjoy. Marriage is the language the world understands and there is no reason to force same-sex couples into a separate "civil unions" line. But of course NOM sees every reason to stop the peace train, so they've already promised to spend $500,000 going after lawmakers who vote against the organizational agenda. How much of that piggy bank will principled members of the state legislature force NOM to blow? To be seen in the near future.

Screen Shot 2012-01-13 At 4.34.33 PmWashington: With Gov. Chris Gregoire coming out with her staunch support for a marriage bill, the state legislature seems to be on the fast track towards considering the measure. For now, NOM has been suspiciously quiet, without so much as a "Washington For Marriage" microsite or any sort of noticeable engagement. But give them time. They're probably just trying to remember how to convert their usual engagement to the Pacific time zone.

Screen Shot 2012-01-13 At 4.34.33 PmMaryland: Like Washington, Maryland has an equality-supportive governor championing a bill. And NOM has again stepped up with another promise. In that state, they've vowed $1 million to support Democrats who vote against marriage equality and to oppose Republicans who vote for it -- the very same, very high dollar $takes they laid out when the bill came up last year. Like NJ, we'll have to wait to see just how much of those seemingly limitless funds NOM need expend in the name of civil discrimination. And by "need," I of course mean, "will expend despite every reason not to."

But it always comes back to deception

My favorite NOM development this week came in the form of a letter. I've told you before about the so-called "Marriage Anti-Defamation" video that overplayed and twisted a minor Canadian incident that had nothing to do with marriage. On the day it Screen Shot 2012-01-13 At 4.34.33 Pmwas released, I even declared it NOM's "most ridiculous" one yet. Little did I know how prescient I was!

Turns out that the two primary participants in the video -- which NOM left on its front page as a fundraiser throughout the entire holiday season -- are quite unhappy with how NOM duped them into participating. In a strongly worded cease and desist letter, the parties (through a lawyer) claim that the whole thing was setup under false pretenses, and that they were never told the clip was being used to advocate against marriage equality in the U.S. They said they never would have agreed to what NOM was selling and demanded the video come down immediately.

As of this writing, the clip is still up. It's right on the front of NOM's web page, in fact, which is either very nervy or very ill-advised. Not sure which.

Although even if/when they do yank it, valid questions will now and forever surround this "Marriage ADA" project that Maggie Gallagher took on. Questions like: Who else has NOM duped? Why would they even feel the need to do it? How much ill will was cultivated in the month that the clip ran? And perhaps most of all: Can we expect this organization to ever take responsibility for anything?

Until next week, my anti-demoralization alliance,


Jeremy Hooper
Good As You/NOM Exposed