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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 Tour Tracker: “Live Free or Die” in New Hampshire? Not if NOM has anything to do with it

July 15, 2010

By Eden James

Danny Segura and Robert Oliver, our intrepid NOM Tour Trackers, are back with another report from Day 2 of the National Organization for Marriage’s “Summer for Marriage: One Man, One Woman” tour in Manchester, New Hampshire.

So, what happened in the “Live Free or Die” state (New Hampshire’s state motto) today?

Here’s Robert’s take on the NOM rally in Manchester:

When Daniel and I approached today’s rally, 41 marriage equality supporters had already taken their place opposite the NOM podium on the steps of City Hall in Manchester. The NOM rally, which numbered 76 according to our hand-count, began with Brian Brown thanking the crowd for being there to support “traditional” marriage and blasting the marriage equality protesters’ signs.

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse — the source of yesterday’s quote-of-the-day and a gift that keeps on giving — spoke again on behalf of the Ruth Institute. Between her stock bad joke and a plug for her Internet series, Dr. Morse gave an anecdote illustrating her point that marriage can be defended using secular arguments.

At a church married couple’s retreat, Morse reminded the audience, husband and wives spend the weekend discussing the differences between men and women. Same-sex married couples will demand to attend, she argued, then asking, “What are you going to talk about? There goes the whole weekend!” Morse argued that this would be among the consequences of gays marrying: the state meddling in the conversations you can have at a couple’s retreat. Therefore, by her deductive reasoning, gay marriage should be banned.

Morse went on to misinform and scare her audience by incorrectly defining “heterosexism.” “Heterosexism,” she continued, “is the view that heterosexuality is normal.” To a great applause, she declared, “News flash! Heterosexuality is normal in our species.”

It seems that NOM has caught on to Danny and me. Throughout the rally, Brian Brown and his cohorts starred daggers at us. They were obviously not happy to have the Courage Campaign tracking their anti-gay rally. It is also likely, of course, that some attendees were tipped off to our presence, as a few ran from me when asked to speak on camera. I found it odd that people armed with “The Truth” would find it intimidating to defend their opinions on camera.

Those that did speak to me surprised me. While they suffered from the same persecution complex and disdain for gay people, they remained rhetorically cautious. A few opined that homosexual relations should be re-criminalized, others that gays live a short, unfulfilling life filled with pain and sadness.

Meanwhile, as Robert indicated above, NOM was again faced with a counter-protest by marriage equality supporters. And while the marriage equality movement didn’t outnumber NOM’s turnout today like we did yesterday, equality activists in Manchester were able to make their presence known in a way that spoke volumes… silently.

As Danny wrote:

A silent protest was enacted to counter the NOM rally today in Manchester, New Hampshire. The silent, peaceful protest had 41 participants, called to action by New Hampshire Representative David Pierce, who was there with his partner Bob Duff.

They assembled with two days notice for the protest. The protesters stood a mere 20 feet away, facing the rally, for the entirety of it, leaving only an ample walk way as buffer between the two opposing camps. The signs were mainly homemade with slogans like “Live Free or Die. Support equality” and “NH=Equality.”

Two straight young college students who happened to walk by just before the rally, and who told me they did not consider themselves activists, were outraged by what they saw and quickly scurried home to make simple signs and join the protesters in solidarity.

It is important to note that New Hampshire has had marriage equality since the first of this year. A marriage equality bill last year was passed first in House of Representatives (a house of 400 reps, the 4th largest decision-making body in the world) then in the Senate, and then signed into effect by Gov. John Lynch. (Gov. John Baldacci of Maine who spoke at yesterday’s press conference is the only other U.S. Govenor to have signed a marriage equality bill into effect).

Two of the representatives that signed the marriage equality bill were Rep. Pierce and Rep. Robert Thomas—both openly gay legislators whom I had the privilege of sitting down with for lunch to interview. When I am able, I’ll send more on my conversations with these representatives.

More to come from Danny and Robert in subsequent posts, including pictures and video.

Meanwhile, Maine Watchdog has posted this video of an interview with Brian Brown, Executive Director of the National Organization for Marriage, outside the Maine NOM tour stop on Wednesday:

Let us know your thoughts in the comments about Maine Watchdog’s interview with Brian Brown and what transpired today in Manchester.