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.

Religious Ties

NOM has deep ties to the Mormon Church, the Catholic Church hierarchy and right-wing evangelical pastors and other organizations against same-sex marriage. In fact, NOM and the Portland Catholic Archdiocese contributed 83% of the money raised in Maine’s Question 1 battle.


 


Extensive Ties to Mormon Church


NOM board members and its project, the Ruth Institute, have deep ties to the Mormon Church, including:


Former president Maggie Gallagher sits on the board of the Marriage Law Foundation, a Utah-based legal group with ties to both Mormons and a shadowy campaign committee used in Utah's 2004 marriage amendment fight against same-sex marriage. William Duncan and Monte Stewart, the founders of the Marriage Law Foundation, are both Mormon. In fact Stewart was formerly a Mormon stake president in Atlanta, Georgia.


Stewart and Duncan previously co-chaired Utahns for a Better Tomorrow (UBT), a committee that supported the 2004 Utah amendment against same-sex marriage. Substantial donations were funneled to UBT through a shadowy nonprofit named Marriage Education Initiatives that was formed just two weeks before the election. A complaint was filed with the Utah Attorney General alleging malfeasance, but nothing ever came of the investigation.


While famous Mormon writer Orson Scott Card currently sits on the NOM board, he replaced Matthew Holland, a Mormon with familial links to the Church's hierarchy. As a founding NOM board member, Holland "hails from a family with strong connections to leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: His father is LDS Apostle and former BYU President Jeffrey Holland." For his part, Card has advocated that homosexuality be criminalized.


An academic advisor to the Ruth Institute, a NOM project, Lynn Wardle, has been deeply involved with the Mormon Church's strategy against same-sex marriage wherever it arises since that strategy's beginnings in mid-90’s Hawaii.


NOM was closely tied to the coalition that supported California’s Prop. 8 – a campaign that was significantly funded and powered by the Mormon Church. Financially, NOM received at least $60,000 in high-dollar donations from Mormons during that 2008 campaign, as well as $10,000 from Mormon politician – and aspiring presidential candidate – Mitt Romney for NOM's efforts around Prop. 8. In fact, Mormonsfor8 found Mormons donated over half of ProtectMarriage's (Prop. 8) campaign funds. Mormonsfor8.com identified $16,483,037.24 from Mormons donating over $1,000 each to ProtectMarriage.com, 51% of the total funds raised.


NOM was so closely identified with the Mormon Church that several newspapers throughout the 2008 Prop. 8 fight referred to NOM as a "Mormon group." The Grand Rapids Press, The Sacramento Bee, and the Contra Costa Times all referred to NOM as a "Mormon group" or a "New Jersey-based Mormon group" during that volatile campaign.


Extensive Ties to Catholic Church and Opus Dei


NOM is comparatively unguarded about its ties to the Catholic Church, acknowledging that its early funds in California came from "well-off Catholic individuals," and NOM openly aligned with the Catholic Archdiocese in Maine. The largest known donation to NOM is $1.4 million from the Catholic fraternal organization the Knights of Columbus in 2009; that comes on top of the Knights' $500,000 donation in 2008.


All three of NOM's top leaders – Brian Brown, current president, Maggie Gallagher, founding president, and Robert George, board chairman emeritus – are Catholics. Additionally, NOM founding board member Luis Tellez, is a numerary of Opus Dei, a highly secretive Catholic organization. He lives in a house on the Princeton University campus that the Daily Princetonian has described as the hub of Opus Dei activities in the area.


NOM and the Catholic Church teamed up to fund almost the entire Maine campaign against same-sex marriage in 2009. According to the Bangor Daily News, “…$1.1 million of the $1.4 million raised by Stand for Marriage Maine in October 2009 came from a single source: the National Organization for Marriage. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland has poured more than $550,000 into the campaign to repeal the law, including more than $150,000 from its general treasury since October 1, 2009. The Portland diocese also collected more than $200,000 for Stand for Marriage Maine from bishops and dioceses outside of Maine."


According to Jeremy Hooper of GoodAsYou.org, Gallagher appeared at “a ‘private meeting for Catholic clery’…at the request of Maine’s Bishop Malone” in Maine in September 2009 at the height of the Question 1 campaign.


At least a half-dozen Roman Catholic bishops met with NOM board chairman emeritus Robert George to discuss his 4700-word manifesto called the “Manhattan Declaration” that warned of civil disobedience if same-sex marriage or stem cell research were approved by the New York legislature. According to Church & State, the Declaration "also represents perhaps the most far-reaching effort to date to juice up the Religious Right by adding the political power and media respectability of the Catholic and Orthodox hierarchies."


Opus Dei has funded several Robert George projects through back channels and donations between non-profit groups. According to Time magazine, Opus Dei has assets of $344 million in the US, and nearly $2.8 billion worldwide. Opus Dei claims to have 85,000 members worldwide but refuses to identify them unless they choose to self-identify, as NOM board member Luis Tellez freely does.


As the Daily Princetonian reported in 2005: “The money has sometimes taken a circuitous route. In 2002, a nonprofit with $50 million in assets called the Association for Cultural Interchange (ACI), which Tellez leads, received $40,000 in contributions from a Harvard alumnus and a Princeton alumnus. That money was then transferred, Tellez said, to another nonprofit called the Higher Education Initiatives Fund (HEIF), which in turn gave the money to the Madison Program [ which was founded by Robert George]. ACI mainly - though not exclusively - supports Opus Dei initiatives, Tellez said, adding that HEIF was created to support all kinds of scholarship and will close soon.”


Ties to Evangelical Christians


NOM also may receive substantial funding from organizations aligned with right wing, evangelical Christian groups. NOM disclosed in registering for a solicitation license in North Carolina that it receives "financial support" from prominent right-wing groups Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council (FRC). (NOM board chair Robert George served on the FRC board from 2006-2008.) The Campaign for Working Families, founded by former FRC president Gary Bauer, was among the few donors to a political action committee (Common Sense PAC) in New Jersey closely associated with NOM in 2007.


NOM sponsored "New Media Row" at the 2009 Family Research Council Action's Value Voters Summit.


Evangelical leaders, including Chuck Colson, were among those who met to support Robert George's Manhattan Declaration which opposed the same-sex marriage bill under consideration in New York in 2009. According to The New York Times, "alarmed at the liberal takeover of Washington and an apparent leadership vacuum among the Christian right, the group had come together to warn the country's secular powers that the culture wars had not ended."


NOM aligned itself this summer for its 2010 Summer Marriage Tour with Pastor Bob Emrich of the Jeremiah Project in Maine. Emrich was an executive committee member of Stand for Marriage Maine; the anti-marriage ballot campaign that overturned the state's newly enacted marriage equality law in 2009.


NOM was the single largest contributor to the Yes on 1 campaign and remains embroiled with state election officials over its ongoing refusal to disclose its donors.


Emrich has compared same-sex marriage to incest: "There is no inherent 'right' to marry and societies have always regulated this institution for the best interests of society. Brother and sisters or parents and children cannot marry, for example, nor can minors." He is also a promoter of the ex-gay theory that gay men and lesbians can become straight. His dedicated YouTube site has three videos promoting that disproved theory.


According to Michael Hawkins, Emrich spent two weeks in Uganda shortly after they introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which would have made homosexuality punishable by death in certain circumstances. In an email to supporters, Emrich wrote, in part: “No wonder when a brilliant MP comes up with a Bill against homosexuality, the human rights activists baptize him an enemy of the people. It is high time politicians, religious leaders, cultural leaders and all concerned Africans woke up and defended the African heritage against the moral confusion of Western civilization.”


Knights of Columbus


The greatest economic downturn in a generation didn’t deter the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization, from ramping up their giving to NOM. In 2008, the group’s $500,000 donation to NOM was the largest known donation on record. But in 2009, the Knights donated $1.4 million to the organization – enough to fund most of NOM’s successful $1.8 million push in Maine to repeal the state’s marriage equality law.


Patrick Korten, vice president for communications for the Knights, told Jesse Zwick of the Washington Independent that the large donation made perfect sense. “It was a fairly simple, straightforward decision. We are pro-family, and believe strongly in the defense of marriage. NOM is the single most important group engaged in defending marriage.”

 

Ultimately, the Roman Catholic Church and the Knights of Columbus are responsible for more than a quarter of the funding going into the pockets of anti-equality organizations. Learn more about NOM's connection to the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy with the HRC report: Roman Catholic Church Hierarchy Takes the Lead in Funding Discrimination.