NOM was launched off of its deep ties to the Mormon Church.
Extensive Ties to Mormon Church
NOM board members, former and current, 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.
Other former NOM board members include famous Mormon writer Orson Scott Card, who sat on the board until 2013; and Matthew Holland, a Mormon with familial links to the Church's hierarchy, who left the board in 2009. Holland, one of NOM's founding board members, 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 for the overthrowing of a government that supports marriage equality.
Lynn Wardle, an academic advisor to the Ruth Institute, a onetime NOM extension project that only broke off in 2013, 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.com found Mormons donated over half of ProtectMarriage's (Prop. 8) campaign funds. Mormonsfor8.com identified $16,483,037.24 from Mormons; 51% of the total came from donors who gave more than $1,000 each to ProtectMarriage.com.
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.
But while the Mormon factor has earned much attention and ink, NOM's leadership has always been deeply Catholic. Also, NOM has relied on and utilized the Catholic Church hierarchy for outreach, funding, and coordination.
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 in 2008 came from "well-off Catholic individuals." NOM also openly aligned with the Catholic Archdiocese in Maine for the 2009 fight against marriage equality. 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. Jennifer Roback Morse, head of the Ruth Institute, NOM's major outreach project from 2009-2013, is a deeply entrenched Catholic. Longtime communications director Thomas Peters is a Catholic writer and thinker whose pen name is "The American Papist." A great many other NOM employees, from senior to staff, as well as NOM's vendors (social media firm Opus Fidelis, video form Syndicate Pictures, etc.) are Catholic-driven operations.
At least a half-dozen Roman Catholic bishops met with NOM board chairman emeritus Robert George to discuss his 4,700-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 among 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.”
Beginning in 2009, NOM began more openly relying on Catholic connections in marriage campaigns. 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."
In a 9/4/09 appearance on a local radio show, Gallagher said she appeared at “a ‘private meeting for Catholic clergy’…at the request of Maine’s Bishop Malone” at the height of the Question 1 campaign.
This 2009 coordination was prescient. In virtually every subsequent legislative and (especially) ballot fight to come after, NOM's Catholic cooperation has been well publicized.
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.
NOM also engages with organizations aligned with right wing, evangelical Christian groups.
Ties to Evangelical Christians
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. NOM, Maggie Gallagher, Brian Brown, and other NOM staffers have exhibited and/or spoken at most every Value Voters Summit since. The FRC also aligned with NOM to sponsor the 2013 and 2014 March(es) For Marriage.
Additionally, evangelical leaders, including the late Chuck Colson and current Focus on the Family president Jim Daly, were among those who met to support Robert George's 2009 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."
On its 2010 "Summer for Marriage" tour, NOM coordinated with leading evangelical leaders in every state along the route.
NOM was a co-sponsor of The Family Leadership Summit of both 2012 and 2013. This initiative of an evangelical group out of Iowa, The Family Leader, brought together top far-right conservative elected officials and activists. The prior year, NOM sponsored this same group's Thanksgiving Family Forum (along with evangelical powerhouse Focus on the Family), which was a conversation-style debate between that year's slate of GOP primary candidates (with the notable exclusion of the party's eventual nominee, Mitt Romney).
The Coalition of African-American Pastor's and Harry Jackson's High Impact Leadership Coalition have begum two major allies in reaching out to African-American evangelicals.
Evangelical political organizations Concerned Women For America has sponsored and provided a speaker for both of NOM's two Marches For Marriage.