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.

Follow the Money


After losing so historically at the polls in 2012, and then just about every court case and legislative fight since, NOM has taken an obvious financial hit. 

Accoding to NOM's 2012 Form 990 (the most recent one available), the discriminatory organization ended the year in the red, roughly 2 million dollars in deficit.  Two thirds of the organization’s funding came from only three donors. While the small handful of donors setup mirrors what we've seen in the past (read below), the 2012 990 suggets that even the deep-pocketed, shadowy donors that have kept NOM afloat all of these years are getting tired of this low-return enterprise.

For all of 2013, when NOM's efforts were in large part geared toward the Supreme Court cases that their side ultimatly lost, and a handful of states where marriage equality is now the law of the land, NOM Watchers noticed an uptick in desperation, with calls for cash more frequent and overt than ever before.  With virtually no "win" off which to fundraise, the NOM brand has become an ever-toughening sale.


During a a time when the country was reeling from the worst financial crisis in decades, NOM’s financial growth was explosive, all the while fighting to keep its political donors and other anti-gay organizations secret.

In its first year of operation, NOM paid nearly 14% of its budget to Brian Brown and Maggie Gallagher. The subsequent year, when NOM's budget increased significantly, Brown and Gallagher both received larger paychecks, though it represented a smaller percentage of NOM's overall budget at just 5%. Brown is now paid over $150,000 per year.

Additionally, NOM seems to be attempting to hide a $166,000 consulting payment to Common Sense America. While it appears on the version of their Form 990 available from the IRS, they have removed it from the version of the Form 990 that NOM makes available through their website. Common Sense America's registered agent is Maggie Gallagher's son Patrick, and Brian Brown sits on Common Sense America’s board.

Gallagher's $125,000 salary in 2007 as president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy was roughly 51% of revenue and 35% of expenses, a ratio that was called "out of the ordinary" by an analyst with Charity Navigator, a respected, independent charity evaluator. The analyst reported that a charity CEO's salary of 35% of expenses is "very large" and "rarely do we see anything quite as large."

NOM’s Expenditures Have Increased by $7.5 Million Over Three Years (Chart from NOM's 2007 and 2008 Form 990s and NOM's 2009 Investors Report)


First Year: NOM Raises Half a Million to Target State Legislators

In its first year, NOM’s budget was just over $500,000 and the campaigns it ran were local and comparatively small.

Two years later: NOM raises $8 million to target 11 states and Washington, D.C.

From its modest beginning, NOM claims it spent $8 million in 2009 and planned to raise $10 million for 2010. Former NOM president Maggie Gallagher even bragged of raising $600,000 in just a few days to pay for ads and automated calls to prompt “grassroots activities.

Of NOM’s $2.5 million budget increase from 2007 to 2008, nearly $2.2 million came from 52 large donations of $5,000 or more from anti-gay organizations. On average, these donations were valued at more than $40,000 apiece, with one source alone giving $450,000, according to NOM’s tax filing. In a sworn statement filed in Iowa by NOM, then-executive director Brian Brown admitted, “NOM solicits and receives most of its funds as undesignated donations from major donors and national organizations.”

NOM aggressively works (and litigates) to keep its donors private. However, there are several anti-gay organizations that have both ties to NOM and the fat wallets to fund their expanding mission.

NOM Closely Aligned With Mormon Church in California and Through Board Members

NOM’s mission and organizational secrecy fits with a pattern of behavior by the Mormon Church, which has been trying to influence policy related to same-sex marriage since the mid-90s while keeping its name not only out of headlines, but entirely out of campaign finance reports. Additionally, one of NOM’s founding board members has close ties to the Mormon Church’s leadership and was replaced by well-known Mormon writer and anti-equality columnist Orson Scott Card. Maggie Gallagher also sits on the board of the Marriage Law Foundation, which is Mormon-founded and Utah-based. And one of the academic advisors to the Ruth Institute (now a NOM project) has been deeply involved with the Church’s opposition strategy to same-sex marriage from its earliest days.

NOM’s Largest Known Donation is From a  Catholic Group and has Ties to Powerful and Secretive Opus Dei

Another cornerstone of NOM’s emergence was the Catholic Church. The three main founders of NOM – Brian Brown, Maggie Gallagher, and Robert George – are all Roman Catholic, and have been comparatively open about the fact that the group is backed by “well-off Catholic individuals.” A September 2010 Washington Independent article identified the largest known donation to NOM as a $1.4 million bundle from the Catholic fraternal organizations Knights of Columbus in 2009. The prior year, the Knights gave $500,000 to NOM. Another board member, Luis Tellez, is a high-ranking official in the American branch of the ultra-conservative and secretive Catholic anti-gay organization Opus Dei.

NOM Received From Right-Wing Evangelical Groups and the Bradley Foundation

NOM has acknowledged that it has received funding from evangelical right-wing anti-gay organizations Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. NOM board chairman emeritus Robert George, who served on FRC’s board, also has ties to groups like the Bradley Foundation. Moreover, NOM has connections to the Arlington Group, a collection of 75 religious right groups that poured $2 million into passing gay marriage bans in states during the 2004 presidential election.


The Mysterious Five Donors

NOM’s 2009 990 tax return showed it to be a a sham "grassroots" organization. On Monday, January 3, 2011, HRC went to the Washington, D.C., NOM office and asked for a copy of its 2009 990 for both its (c) 3 and (c) 4 organizations, which had not been made public at the time. The following day, HRC went back to the office and obtained a hard-copy of the (c) 4 990. It appears NOM did not provide us with a complete return.

Check out the video of the exchange below:

The following year, the plot thickened. Our analysis of NOM’s 2010 Form 990, filed with the Internal Revenue Service in November 2011 and obtained by the American Independent, confirmed that the top five donors to NOM accounted for almost 90 percent of its funding. We can only conclude that NOM’s claim to being a grassroots organization representing thousands is phony. Tax returns don’t lie. 

HRC’s breakdown of NOM’s 2010 total revenue from contributions of $9,197,742 is as follows:

  • Top 2 donors: $6,356,000 (69.1%)

  • Top 5 donors: $8,106,000 (88.1%)

  • Top 10 donors: $8,326,000 (90.5%)

Also, according to its IRS filing, at the end of 2010 NOM was more than $1.2 million in debt. How could a group in so much debt in 2010 so quickly turn around a year later and claim to be on track to have a $20 million banner year?