The Rise and Fall of the National Organization for Marriage

NOM’s marriage march: Nakedly faith-driven, aggressive against gay parents, boring as all get-out

March 26, 2013, by Jeremy Hooper

For me, today's "March For Marriage" can be summed up in three concepts.  #1: Extreme religiosity:

Not that I expected a mostly secular case that argued civil marriage equality on its merits.  But having been to other NOM events, I still have to say that this one was far more faith-driven than the ones I've experienced in the past.  

And actually, I shouldn't even say faith-driven, since it was exclusively Christian/Catholic.  The on-site entertainment was provided by gospel group OneWay:

And this kind of refrain was familiar:

Here on the day that the high court is tasked with considering civil marriage equality within the confines of our shared constituion, NOM and its supportive base doubled down on using one certain religious point of view against the civil rights of LGBT people.  That's #1.

#2: Arguments based all around parenting, child welfare, and the supposed threats that gay parents pose on the latter.  NOM's most prominent pre-printed sign read:

This sentiment was echoed on the proscenium of its program stage, which read:

"Every child deserves a mom and a dad"

An uninformed observer would honestly think that this was a march about adoption rights, against single parents, or pertaining to a court case that directly dealt with the existence of LGBT parents.  But no, obviously—the subject at hand is marriage.  Kids are (a) not a requiremnt of marriage and (b) very much being raised by same-sex parents, with or without marriage rights.  But that doesn't matter to NOM.  NOM knows that this conversation can score a few fear points, so they play the "harm the kids" line for all its worth (read: not much).

Not surprisingly, one of the most aggressive attacks came from NOM's own Jennifer Roback Morse.  Morse used some of her time at the podium to basically say that kids of gays are going to grow up to resent them:

Then there was Tami Fitzgerald, who weighed in with the claim that gay parenting "creates families that are broken from the start":

Just nasty stuff.  NOM is no longer just attacking our partnership bonds; NOM is now fully attacking our family bonds.  They have no right to go after either, of course.  But while the ongoing attacks on our ring fingers are as frustrating and offensive as ever, these latter attempts to question, discredit, and hurt our families—families, I will remind you again, that are forming with or without the protections and beneifts of marriage—are a bit more chilling. Today, they were the most apparent.

So as not to be further chilled, let's move on to #3: The uber-boring monotony of the whole day.  OH. MY. GAH, Ya'll!  I swear to you, there was a twenty minute stretch where I was with a NOM contingent that said nothing the entire time other than their "one man, one woman" chant.  The whole time: "One man. One Woman. One man. One Woman. One man. One Woman. One man. One Woman. One man. One Woman. One man. One Woman. One man. One Woman. One man. One Woman." You get the picture.  That was all they did.  No exuberant dances, creative phrasing, or some other interesting way to show their committment.  There was just semi-enthusiastic recitation of the most reductive lines imaginable ("Kids need a mom and a dad" another popular one).

The repetition played out in the rally program as well.  Each speech (I'll upload them all onto Youtube) was made up of the same old hackneyed talking points that we've heard a number of times, but with even less enthusiasm than I'm used to hearing the speakers bring to the stage.  It was as if there was a bag backstage from which each speaker drew a given number of talking-point-tiles to put together in whatever way he or she saw fit.  No one seemed original, and few seemed like their hearts were 100% there.  

Look, I'll admit that I was sleepy, having had to make a 4:40AM train an all.  However, that's not the main reason I found myself yawning throughout NOM's long—it was really long!—program.  If I was going to be there, I wanted something on that stage to, if not dazzle me, then at least move me in some way.  But with few exceptions (I'll actually give Roback Morse points here for enthusiasm; New York state senator Ruben Díaz, too), the speakers bored me to tears.

At one point, when Harry Jackson led the crowd in a chant about "scattering" their "enemies," I actually perked up.  I mean, at least here was something different:

Sure, this difference turned me into an "enemy" among a camp that was quite literally praying to scatter my marriage.  But hey, yawners can't be choosers.


So those are my main three initial takeaways: conservative Christianity, attacks on gay families, and boredom.  I'll have more on the day once I decompress.  And sleep.  And kiss my husband.