The Rise and Fall of the National Organization for Marriage

Where are Microsoft, Facebook, and Google’s ‘Dump’ sites?

July 10, 2012, by Jeremy Hooper

Most National Organization for Marriage Watchers know that this discriminatory organization has recently launched efforts to convince consumers that they should "Dump" two companies that have come out in support of marriage equality. Namely, Starbucks and General Mills.  NOM has spent the better part of the summer publicly flogging these two American brands simply because they stood up for every customer's right to marry the person that he or she loves.

But I have to ask of NOM: where the heck are the sites telling discerning shoppers to avoid Facebook, Microsoft, and Google? Because when you factor in the state of the advocacy in relation to the size and scope of the company's reach, all three of the aforementioned mega-businesses have more power—individually and, especially, collectively—to obliterate the NOM agenda than either Starbucks or General Mills. Yet so far, we've heard almost nothing from NOM's so-called "Corporate Fairness Project," and certainly have seen no signs of a boycott.  That's telling.


Let's consider Facebook. The company—whose co-founder, we should note, recently married his longtime partner—just announced a very public change that Msnbchoopershulmanallows users to have dual-gendered wedding icons accompanying their marriages. I know it was a very public change, because my husband and I became a very public face of it, with outlets from Gizmodo to The Atlantic to MSNBC using Andrew and I as the poster kids for the new development (see left). And a change it most certainly is. It's one of those things that sounds kind of small at first, but that actually has the power to make a major impact within Facebook's mega user base. Now, because of this new iconography, virtually every Facebook user is, at some point, going to come across married couples with m/f icons, married couples with m/m figures, and married couples with f/f representation. This is the kind of thing that will, over time, drive home both the equal and benign nature of same-sex marriages. It's quietly powerful.

Then there's Microsoft. The company has been quite vocal in its opposition to Washington state's proposed marriage ban, which NOM is spearheading. The company has not only been vocal, in fact, but financially supportive as well. Presumably at least one or two NOMMers make use of a Microsoft product. Yet there's no "Dump Microsoft" on the table. Why is that?

Which brings us to Google, the biggest business behemoth of the trio. NOM, being an outfit that relies on its web presence, certainly relies on and benefits from the work of this particular search giant and its many affiliates.  This very same company has taken a very open, very proud, very public stance against the NOM agenda. So where is Dump Google? Go ahead and Google it—you won't find anything.  You will, however, still find NOM posting its videos to the Google-owned Youtube.

The fact of the matter is that you won't find any of these efforts because NOM knows that these "Dump" campaigns would be even more laughable in the failure department than either of their two already-announced boycotts. It's weird to think of either Starbucks or General Mills as low hanging fruit, but in this scenario, both companies are, comparatively, more in line with NOM's intended success. The truth is that NOM knows that its "Dump" campaigns are not really going to do any perceptible harm to either of the two companies on the boycott slate.  Most like, NOM is simply using these efforts to harvest names and email addresses, which they hope they can use to grow their donor rolls. Sure, they'll point to this slight stock drop or that corporate statement as some sort of "proof" that they are having an impact, but those of us who watch such things will see the B.S. We know that NOM chose both General Mills and Starbucks because they can easily distance themselves from the company's wares, can easily lead their more malleable followers into taking their own public stands against these everyday products, can find minor "victories" to spin and tout, and can seem like they have some sense of power in the corporate world, even if they really don't. If the goal is really to just grow their list by a few thousand names, then they can probably achieve that "success" regardless how much perceptible NOM Watchers like myself might mock their silly, outpaced campaigns.

But with Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, NOM knows that even the least perceptible among us would see the failure. These three businesses are simply too huge and too in the public eye in a user-driven way for NOM to "show its work." It wouldn't take an uber-focused "culture war" watcher to see that the emperor has no clothes (or ability to "unfriend" the masses, as it were).  The overall tone of such a publicly overplayed hand would be damaging to the NOM brand.

That said, NOM is being completely hypocritical here. If this organization is going to set up and tout something called the "Corporate Fairness Project," then they are going to have to show some consistency. Despise pro-equality companies? Then okay—take them all on! Brian Brown routinely closes his weekly email blasts with lines like "we know who wins this in the end," so okay—then NOMmers should retain that confidence and go toe-to-toe against Facebook and Google. In fact, if they have such success, godly backing, and intrinsic good built-in to their "protect marriage" cause, then the NOM staffers should be itching at the chance to make these public smack downs. The press would certainly cover their efforts, and we all know that NOM loves the attention of a man-bites-dog–hungry media. So go ahead—bring it, NOM!

But of course that will not happen. NOM doesn't want to give up its social media outreach, and NOM certainly doesn't want millions of users seeing the K Street special interest group look like the mouse that barely squeaks, much less roars. It's obvious why they will stay away, and the sit out is probably even smart from an objective political perspective. But I don't know—if I was a supporter seeking consistency from an organization asking me to put all stock in its principles and all cash in its coffers, then I'd probably be a little concerned with the organization asking me to dump my Cheerios and Frappucinos while also asking me to….


But that's just me.