The nation’s most vocal organization opposing LGBT equality is struggling to stay afloat financially, according to just-released tax filings
WASHINGTON – A white-hot spotlight focused on the issue of same-sex marriage over the last few years hasn’t translated into financial success for an organization whose self-proclaimed sole purpose is to “protect marriage and the faith communities that sustain it.” In a time when virtually every nightly newscast, political debate, even television series delves into discussions about marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples, the beleaguered National Organization for Marriage (NOM) can’t seem to raise enough money to cover its expenses. According to analysis of the organization’s 2013 tax filings done by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), NOM raised $5.1 million in 2013, dropping by over 50% since 2012. Just 2 donors accounted for more than half of the organization’s funding– further evidence that everyday Americans have little interest in furthering NOM’s extremist agenda. In addition, the NOM Education Fund also dropped by nearly $3.5 million in funding -- a drop of almost 70% since the previous year. NOM ended the year more than $2.5 million in debt.
“NOM should start figuring out that people aren’t willing to give their hard-earned money to an extremist agenda that's going nowhere,” said Fred Sainz, HRC Vice President of Communications. “If I were Brian Brown, I’d be worried that my two or three mega-donors are soon going to come to terms with the fact that they’d largely be better off flushing money down the toilet. Americans certainly aren’t buying what NOM is selling, and it’s only a matter of time before the trickle of money keeping the lights on at NOM HQ dries up.”
NOM made their 2013 990s available this morning after repeatedly refusing to make them public following their November 17 deadline – a direct violation of federal law. HRC first made an in-person request for the public financial documents on Monday morning and again Tuesday – both times, NOM was unable to produce the documents. Federal law requires organizations to publicly release their 990s the same day an in-person request is made. As a result, HRC filed a complaint with the IRS in order to compel NOM to abide by the law.
A virtually unending series of losses is at the heart of NOM’s financial woes. Since enduring a staggering defeat on Election Day 2012 when voters at the ballot enacted marriage equality in three states and defeated a discriminatory marriage ban in another, the defeats just keep on coming. Over the last year, nearly three-dozen federal court rulings – from judges appointed by both Democratic and Republican presidents – have struck down state bans on marriage equality, while only two federal courts have upheld the bans. In the year since NOM released its last annual financial report, the number of states where same-sex couples can legally marry has jumped from fifteen to thirty-three. Today, sixty-two percent of Americans live in states with marriage equality. And the Supreme Court of the United States has allowed federal court rulings granting marriage rights to same-sex couples to become the law of the land in eleven states over the last two years: California, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Kansas, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Indiana, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Earlier this year, the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices voted unanimously to impose record civil penalties against NOM totaling $50,250. The Commission also directed NOM to file disclosure reports after a four-year investigation exposed “a significant violation of law” by the national anti-LGBT organization. The penalties are reportedly the largest ever imposed for a campaign finance violation in Maine history.
What’s more, recent poll results show that there is virtually no appetite for NOM’s radical and exclusionary brand of anti-LGBT rhetoric. An HRC survey of 1,200 registered voters conducted June 6-10, 2014 by Republican pollster Alex Lundry of TargetPoint Consulting found that the number of Americans strongly opposed to national marriage equality has dipped to twenty-eight percent. When asked what they would do if the U.S. Supreme Court struck down discriminatory marriage bans across the country, Americans opposed to marriage equality were subdued. “I will not like it, but I will do nothing,” one said. “I would be very disappointed, but I would accept the law,” said another. All in all, only three percent of opponents mentioned that they would protest the decision in any form.
NOM has been deviating from its core mission of “protecting marriage” and now advocates against any and all measure of legal or societal equality for LGBT people. NOM President Brian Brown recently traveled to Russia to support a bill – now law – banning the adoption of Russian children by same-sex couples or parents living in countries where marriage equality is legal; and he even sent out a transphobic e-mail lashing out against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, in which he referred to transgender Americans by saying “if a man feels like being a woman, he is; but if he later decides he’s a man again, he’s that.” June of this year, NOM hosted a march on the U.S. Supreme Court and a rally that featured remarks speakers who have compared homosexuality with bestiality, same-sex marriages with “Frankenstein creatures,” and LGBT advocates with Nazis.
And just last week NOM sank to a new low, this time advocating for a Wild West scenario, calling on Kansas Governor Sam Brownback to “reject the idea that Kansas must abandon marriage because out of control federal judges say so" and ignore a federal district court order requiring the state to allow same-sex couples to marry.
In 2012, NOM ended the year in the red with roughly a $2 million dollar deficit. Just three donors accounted for roughly two thirds of the organization’s funding. That year the National Organization for Marriage Education Fund, NOM’s 501(c)(3) charitable education arm, loaned NOM nearly $1.7 million. This raised questions over whether the Education Fund’s loans allowed NOM to engage in electoral or excessive lobbying activity that violates the Education Fund’s tax-exempt status. That loan still has not been paid back, according to this year’s tax filings.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.