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NOM Exposed is a campaign-style operation that tracks and challenges the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage as it tries to influence elections and legislative campaigns across the country.

NOM embarrassed (yet again): Equality supporters triple NOM turnout in Indianapolis

July 26, 2010

(Courage staffers Arisha Michelle Hatch, Anthony Ash and Phyllis Lozano are on the ground in Indianapolis, Indiana, covering the next stop on the NOM tour. We'll be adding updates to this post, including pictures and video, throughout the day so keep refreshing to stay up to date. Also, we have some content from the Ohio events in Columbus and Lima over the weekend that we'll be adding to later today. Stay tuned… — Eden)

By Arisha Michelle Hatch

The National Organization for Marriage's \"One Man, One Woman\" bus tour pulled into Indianapolis on Monday just after thousands and thousands of NASCAR fans finished partying their way through \"Race Week,\" which culminated with the Indy 500 Brickyard 400 (h/t Steven Johnson in the comments) on Sunday.

Just one more example of NOM's bad timing.

It's 10 minutes before the rally is supposed to kickoff and all of the usual suspects are here (minus Brian Brown): Louis the blogger, Chris the substitute spin-artist, and the young videographer who's been at each stop, but who won't talk to me (more on all of that later).

It's unclear at the moment whether there are equality counter-protestors assembled on the other side of the State House. We've heard from sources on the ground that equality supporters may have had some permitting issues, but we're still waiting to confirm.

Equality star sighting of the day: Bil Browning, Indiana resident and Bilerico Project founder, is here getting footage from the rally as well.

UPDATE BY ARISHA: The rally just started.

I have hand-counted 29 39 (updated count by the end of the rally) non-NOM staffers attending the rally — about the same number that have attended every other event on this tour. Yet another #NOMturnoutFAIL.

Wow. Just a moment ago, about 95 183 (also an updated count by the time the rally ended) marriage equality supporters marched in to the event to counter-protest NOM on a sidewalk across from the event. Impressive.

Once again, NOM has been embarrassed on this tour, drawing significantly fewer supporters to their event than local marriage equality groups and organizations have assembled in response (and often on short notice).

UPDATE BY EDEN: Here are some photos of the Indianapolis event, just sent by Phyllis:

The crowd:


Maggie Gallagher speaking:


Here are a few shots from behind the podium. In these two pics, NOM supporters are behind the rally speaker; the marriage equality counter-protest is on the sidewalk behind the statues):



Some of the counter-protest signs and people:


Another equality supporter in Indianapolis:


UPDATE BY EDEN: More to come, including an event in later in South Bend that you won't want to miss. Stay tuned.

UPDATE BY EDEN: Another equality star sighting!

Ellen and Robert Frist, parents of Drew Frist and parents-in-law of Tom Dolby, married in Connecticut in April 2009 attended the rally today as well.

Drew and Tom have been instrumental in funding the Courage Campaign Institute's \"Testimony: Equality on Trial\" and our \"Camp Courage\" training events for marriage equality activists, specifically stepping up to counter NOM's \"Gathering Storm\" ad with a Camp Courage matching grant (link includes L.A. Times coverage).

Ellen and Robert Frist live in Indianapolis and just emailed: \"We were well-represented. At least 3 times more of our group.\"

We've got some new crowd count estimates coming in, it appears. After we get it sorted out, we'll update the thread.

BREAKING- UPDATE BY EDEN: We just learned from a source on the ground that NOM will be breaking from their planned route to the next stop in Madison to cover a major event in South Bend, Indiana- due three hours north of Indianapolis. The South Bend Common Council will be voting for the fourth time on an amendment to the city's human rights ordinance that protects residents on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity with respect to employment.

This will be our pro-equality side's fourth attempt at winning the vote. In 2006, we lost by a 5-4 vote. The hearing for the most recent vote went until midnight and we again lost by one vote. This time, we're told our side has taken its time to ensure we win it, and that all our supporters show up.

Because we're not the kind of organizers to let NOM go unchallenged, Courage Campaign's trackers are responding in kind by breaking off the trail to head to South Bend as well. Arisha, Anthony, and Phyllis are headed straight there as you read. If you are in South Bend, or nearby, please consider heading to the fourth floor of the County Council building to show your support and show NOM that we are going! The vote is at 7 pm, and it's at the corner of Lafayette and Jefferson:

View Larger Map

Indiana Family Institute is asking its supporters to gather at 3 PM local time in advance of the vote at 7 PM. We'll have more details on our side's plans to counter them as we confer with local organizers. Keep an eye on for more as it comes.

UPDATE BY EDEN: Arisha just sent in an updated report, with an updated crowd count, quotes from participants, etc. Check it out:

As NOM packed up its tour bus to make their way towards Madison, they must have been feeling pretty good about today's rally in Indianapolis.

After all, they had their second biggest crowd to date, with approximately 39 attending their rally on the East Steps of the Indianapolis State House, although equality activists heavily outnumbered the NOM'ers.

I personally counted 183 equality activists (my count in today's earlier post was preliminary and is now updated), but we've received reports stating that the counter-protest rose to as many as 250 supporters before the end of the rally.

\"I was so nervous [about today],\" said Keegan McGraw, a marriage equality supporter. \"I didn't want Indiana [equality activists] to not turn out. I didn't want Indiana to be the failure of the tour.\"

Equality organizations, including the National Organization for Women (NOW), the Indiana Stonewall Democrats, PFLAG and Jobs with Justice urged their members to attend the counter-protest.

Although there was a visible police presence, they were probably the least-partisan force that we've encountered on the road trip. On several occasions, I observed NOM supporters attempting to complain about the presence of the counter-protesters only to have police tell them that there was \"nothing [they] could do about it.\"

Both Maggie Gallagher and Chris Plant spoke later introducing local speakers.

\"Many were in town to see the race [this week],\" stated Mich, a speaker for NOM, attempting to draw an analogy between the Brickyard 400 and those who favor traditional marriage. The race, \"it's not just people driving around in a circle [ . . . what makes that race work is that] it [has] a great system of guidelines and regulations.\"

Because of the friendly police presence, there were a number of interesting interactions between equality activists, NOM staffers and supporters that we'll post in a bit.

The NOM staffers continue to attempt to impede us as we try to interview their supporters, but we've got that on-camera too.

What are you afraid of, NOM?

UPDATE BY EDEN: Bil Browning from the Bilerico Project just posted a Flickr stream of pics from the event. Check them out and let us know which ones you think are the best! We'll add some of your nominated pics to the front page.

Here's one that Bil took from behind the counter-protest:



At least that's what Louis Marinelli, NOM's blogger, just said in an off-handed aside to a post that just went up:

… We'll be meeting up with Brian Brown and his family, which are returning to the tour with us in Madison.

The Brown family had some business to tend to out west and so they stepped off the tour for a few stops but Madison will be great because we will have both Brian and Maggie as speakers. It should be a great rally as have been all the rallies that we have held so far. We've signed up hundreds of people from around the country who want to be active in the struggle against the redefinition of marriage.

Louis, as you all know, reads, er, religiously. So let him know what you think in the comments.

Meanwhile, that post by Louis also claims that NOM is NOT diverting its tour to South Bend. We're guessing that they don't want anyone to know about their association with some of the South Bend crazies that are bound to show up (based on what has happened in the past). Check out our new South Bend thread for more info as it develops.

UPDATE BY EDEN: As noted above, Bil Browning, founder of the Bilerico Project, was also in Indianapolis today. He posted his report on Bilerico and gave us permission to cross-post it on

Check out the sickening sign that NOM supporter Larry Adams created with two nooses as \"the solution to gay marriage.\" Also, watch the interview that Courage's Arisha Michelle Hatch did with Adams, and the \"handling\" that Adams got from a NOM staffer in the middle of the interview.

To discuss it with the NTT community, join the new thread that just went up on the NOM Tour Tracker.