The Rise and Fall of the National Organization for Marriage

Dear Hollywood: Never let Brian Brown cast a David and Goliath film

November 19, 2012, by Jeremy Hooper

The Underdog float is no longer be part of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. To fill the gap, National Organization for Marriage president Brian is blowing his own hot air into his own underdog-like conceit:

"…this is a bit of a David and Goliath fight. The Human Rights Campaign [the nation's largest gay activist group] has been around for a long time and has a $40 million budget. National Organization for Marriage has been around since 2007, and we gave more money this year [to the four blue states] than we ever have before -- $5.5 million. That's more than we gave to California Prop 8 [in 2008], Maine [in a 2009 marriage vote] and North Carolina combined. But we were fighting in four states, and the other side was just able to completely overwhelm us on the fundraising front. It's unfortunate. I think there was a little bit of complacency where our supporters thought, 'Well, we've won so many times before, we're going to win again and we don't need to make that extra gift.' And this is the result." [BP News]

How in the world are we the Goliaths?! Yes, we've managed to build up a strong network, but that has come in response to decades—centuries, even—of persecution. We have been shut out in every way possible, and we are just now starting to make the concrete inroads that will constitute lasting change (with much further to go still).

Working against us, we have massive church networks, years of discriminatory history, hurtful stereotypes, deeply ingrained positions, massive waves of misunderstanding, a greater number of national lawmakers who stand against our equality, a body of anti-equality organizations that are still more financed than their pro-equality counterparts (don't let NOM fool you on this), and a reality in terms of the majority population that makes us dependent on the kindness of those who may not have an immediate personal connection to this fight. Remember, the only reason why there even is any kind of a fight is because there are still some who want to keep us down. That we have been able to rise above it does not make us this great, formidable Goliath on whom one would place his or her obvious money. Our ability to achieve speaks instead to our resilience, perseverance, and determination, as well as to the embedded rightness/righteousness of our cause.

NOM is a contrivance. A trifle. It is a silly idea that scratched Maggie Gallagher and Robert George's brains, leading them to seize the financing and infrastructure needed to earn connections and (most importantly) headlines. Yes, NOM is now our number one opponent and the organization that we must challenge most forcefully because they are are the organization through which most of this marriage stuff now funnels. But whether or not NOM, as a singular entity, was outspent by another organization does not speak to the reality of the LGBT "culture war." NOM, as an organization, has only been engaged in this dialogue for four years now. On a much deeper level, this "culture war"—which the far-right declared, I must remind you—is the tale of a massive Goliath that thought it could step up, beat back, and force down the rights of certain kinds of American taxpayers. The Goliath miscalculated David and David's brassy want and scrappy ability to defend their family.

NOM is a Johnny-come-lately component of a lonnnnnnnnnnng national discussion. NOM joined a team that, for many years, walked and talked (and financed) like an arrogant Goliath. NOM's mistake, in terms of what it views as organizational success, was that NOM came to this debate too late to enjoy the easy fruits on which Dobson and Falwell used to dine. The other side sailed to victory at the beginning. However, both sides have spent years make a case before an increasingly receptive public. Now, we are winning because our side is the winning position. But don't be fooled—we are winning against a very stacked deck that would've driven lesser populations of people to cower. We are winning because didn't bow down to the Goliaths. We will continue to win because won't ever back down.