The Rise and Fall of the National Organization for Marriage

New NOM tactic: Denying suspect classification to gays

November 27, 2012, by Jeremy Hooper

There's an interesting new meme developing in NOM Land.  Increasingly, NOM staffers are calling into question whether gays are politically powerless enough to meet the Supreme Court's suspect classification, pointing to LGBT state legislators and even HRC's advocacy work as some sort of "proof":

It doesn't take a particularly observant NOM Watcher to grasp why they are doing this.  With crucial court cases coming up at the highest judicial level, NOM's key voices are surely quaking in their proverbial boots.  After crushing losses at the autumn polls that have forever changed the narrative, a major court loss would be *devastasting* for the organization that discrimination built.  It's likely that their fundraising is already shaky (at best), with even staunch supporters wondering if this organization, under its current leadership, is really the best vehicle for those who wish to support inequality.  But if the Defense of Marriage Act (so-called) were to go down?  If Proposition 8 falls and California's massive population gets equal marriage rights?  If just about anything happens with any of the cases before the court that seems to suggest momentum for our side?  NOM will be unbelievably weakened in what some might see as an irreversible way.

So NOM's thinking pattern, I'm guessing, it that the organization needs to lay some groundwork now.  We know that anything favorable for us will be shunned as being the work of "activist judges"—that's a given.  But if the Supreme Court moves forward in a way that gives us months of debate and discussion about the legality of DOMA and marriage bans (*see Chris Geidner's report for the many SCOTUS possibilities), then NOM is going to have to have something to fundraise around.  That something, I'm guessing, is a major, full-throated, aggressively posited question of whether LGBT people are really "powerless" enough to earn strict scrutiny.  I'm imagining whole campaigns asking NOM $upporters to help get the word out about the all-powerful LGBT activists and their undue influence.  Think the NOM self-victimization strategy of which we are all familiar, but with the added element of other-aggrandizement that positions the still-widely-shunned LGBT population as some sort of monolithic wall of power.

It won't work, since human beings who live in a world governed by fact rather than press release will understand that the LGBT community's histroic gains and increased visibility do not negate the injustices that still undermine millions of Americans' welfare in real and demonstrable ways.  But NOM's game is now built around grasping at straws in hopes that one of them will prove strong enough to keep the K Street office above water for a few more years.  This is just the first of many silly game moves we can expect in '13.