The Rise and Fall of the National Organization for Marriage

NOM’s Civil Unions Chutzpah

May 31, 2012, by Jeremy Hooper

I've opined at length about the National Organization For Marriage's civil unions position, which fluctuates in tandem with political opportunism. But I gotta say, the anti-equality org's latest take on the subject might be its most unbelievable yet.

In a blog post, a NOM thinker writes the following:

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[NOM Blog]

Okay, so the obvious implication is that NOM and many of its supporters would be okay with civil unions, particularly as they apply to Illinois. Again, I've already spilled plenty of ink on NOM's civil unions charade in general, so I won't repeat myself. But let's look at Illinois specifically, shall we?

When that state was debating its now-in-place civil unions, NOM went full-on aggressive against the idea. NOM directed supporters to engage in a two-fold attack, calling on lawmakers to both attach "poison pill" religious amendments to the civil unions language, in hopes of killing it, as well as to vote "no" on the underlying bill—the same strategy they used in Rhode Island months later. It was all under the guise of "religious freedom," but the goal was to leave same-sex couples unprotected.

I would show you the Illinois action alert that NOM issued at the time…

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…but it turns out the NOM has quietly scrubbed that alert, replacing it with a more innocuous one about Apple (same url, you will note). It seems that at some point, NOM's handlers realized that advocacy against civil unions in a state that highly supports the notion might come back and bit them booty, so they chose to act like their discriminatory action never happened. Out of sight, out of mind (or so they hoped).

But some of us don't forget. And now here we are in 2012, where NOM's telling supporters that civil unions are some sort of marital marijuana—a "gateway drug" that will lead us into a full blown "I do" addiction. The problem with that claim, besides just the hyperbole, is that NOM never wanted us to have *any* of it. Forget the "drug" or the way—NOM didn't want civil unions getting out of the Illinois legislature's gate! NOM's voices can't now bemoan the possibility of expanded protections or pretend like "compromise" is this organization's consensus position, when they actively worked to stop the initial spark! And no, quietly scrubbing the action alert doesn't change reality!

Will a growing number of courts eventually find civil unions to be inadequate? Yes, probably, since separate is not and will not ever be equal. But when that happens, the courts will not be "ruling out" civil unions, as NOM claims—they will be ruling, in line with the constitution, that same-sex couples are legally entitled to more. It was the National Organization for Marriage that ruled out civil unions in Illinois and in most every other state (sans the one where polling made that dangerous). In fact, I would argue that this unprincipled game of civil unions pretend only helps us make our court cases for why our opponents contrived act cannot and should not be trusted to treat same-sex couples with respect. In this sense, I would suggest that NOM's overplayed, ever-changing hand is actually going to help us open a door, even if their obvious goal is locking that door shut.