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: marriage equality = slave trade

August 01, 2010



By Dante Atkins

For those who may not have seen the news, the bigots at National Organization for Marriage–the group most prominently opposed to marriage equality and the main sponsors of Proposition 8 in California and Question 1 in Maine–have been on tour. They’ve been going around the country in an archetypical bus tour trying to promote their special brand of outmoded discrimination. As could have been expected, the tour has been an epic boatload of fail. At many stops of the tour, marriage equality supporters have equaled or outnumbered those who show up to hate on gay people.

NOM has been tweeting statements from spokesman Brian Brown during the course of the tour–and while a variety of them have been offensive in a lot of ways, this one probably takes the cake:

“It is 1972 for marriage. This is the same as the time as before Roe v. Wade. . . . What if William Wilberforce listened to those telling him not to bring his religion into the public square?”

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. William Wilberforce was a British member of Parliament who was best known for his religiously based opposition to the slave trade, and was instrumental in outlawing slavery throughout the British empire in the mid-19th century. And in invoking the ghost of William Wilberforce, NOM has just compared opposition to bigotry against gays to…supporting the slave trade. Now it’s not quite full Godwin, but by the time you’re talking about the slave trade, you’re getting pretty damned close.

That’s bad enough. But what’s actually just as interesting is in this little snippet, Brian Brown is making an argument that is expressly theocratic. By devolving to a rationale that is based simply on religion in the public square, NOM is essentially admitting that theocratic values are the only reason to oppose marriage equality (truth be told, if you had seen their closing arguments in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, such an admission should come as no surprise).

But when it comes down to it, what Brian Brown is actually doing here is making a unwitting yet fundamental attack on the value of Christian morality. The implication of Brown’s statement regarding Wilberforce’s motivations is that if Wilberforce had not been so religiously inclined, he would not have pursued his opposition to the slave trade. Does Brian Brown really think that your average Christian believes that slavery is wrong because God said so, and that because in their view God says that gay marriage is bad, it has to be opposed with equal vigor? Is Brian Brown really suggesting that regular believers are so rigidly doctrinaire that they see no nuance?

If anyone needs a lesson in Christian values, it’s obviously Brian Brown.