The Rise and Fall of the National Organization for Marriage

NOM re-ups promise to bully Illinois Republicans (i.e. elect more Democrats)

April 08, 2013, by Jeremy Hooper

In a new press release, the National Organization For Marriage is doing what the organization does best of late: making loud threats that they can't really fulfill.  This time the strong-arming is directed at pro-equality Republicans serving in the Illinois legislature, at whom NOM has vowed to spend "whatever it takes" to remove from office:

"Any Republican in Illinois who betrays the cause of marriage will be casting a career-ending vote and will be held accountable to their constituents," said Brian Brown, NOM's president. "We will spend whatever it takes—hundreds of thousands of dollars if necessary—to remove them from office, just as we did three of the four turncoat Republican state Senators in New York who were responsible for gay 'marriage' passing there. We will not hesitate to support pro-family Democrats to replace them, as our record in New York proves." 

Okay, so first let's talk about New York. What NOM is not telling you (or telling the Illinois GOP, more importantly) is that the NOM game plan actually resorted in a greater Democratic majority.  The seat belonging to James Alesi—who, we should note, retired and was *not* defeated by NOM—went to pro-equality Democrat Ted O'Brien; Steve Saland's seat went to pro-equality Democrat Terry Gipson rather than the anti-equaliity challengers NOM wanted; and GOP supporter Mark Grisanti kept his seat, despite NOM's extremely aggressive campaign against him.  The only real "win" NOM can tout is in the race where Kathy Marchione triumphed over Roy McDonald—but even Marchione has said she will not touch marriage.  Net result: Four races that cost NOM supporters a lot of money and time but that do absolutely nothing to foster NOM's goals.

What NOM ultimately did in New York is help the Democratic party gain more seats and therefore stave off any (far-fetched, never-going-to-happen-anyway) repeal of marriage equality.  Marriage is intact in the Empire State and is majorly supported by the legislature, the Governor, the national-level electeds, and the vast majority of the public.  Honest Republicans in this blue state will tell you that NOM actually drove the GOP to distraction on the issue.  Many in the NY GOP are not happy with what NOM did in 2012, whether they publicly admit it or not (they do privately–trust me).

Which brings us to Illinois.  This is another blue state with a more moderate GOP than you will find in other areas.  Basically what NOM is threateneing to do is take the New York model and implement it in the Land of Lincoln.  But wait, why should anyone believe the result will be any different this time around?  NOM and allies already tried earlier this year to oust the state's pro-equality GOP chair, and they majorly failed on that.  What makes NOM think it has the political capital here?!    

NOM's acting as if its NY campaign was some sort of political success story that should strike fear in the hearts of equality supporters. The truth, however, is that it's the Republicans who are concerned with that party's future who should be the first and loudest voices against this single issue group's bullish attempts to divide the party.  

NOM, an organization that suffered astounding losses in 2012 and that loses more political momentum every day, is like a nutshell example of what threatens the GOP: those who are concerned about fundraising, selling books, grabbing ratings, booking speaking gigs, or generally making noise are constantly at odds with those who are genuinely interested in solving problems, forging alliances, and winning elections.