Anti-Gay Group Flouts Election Laws to Keep Donors Secret

by Carolyn Simon

National Organization for Marriage at Odds with Supreme Court Justice Scalia on Donor Disclosure


Washington – As the 2012 elections gain steam and scrutiny over campaign finance laws intensifies, the Human Rights Campaign today issued a memorandum detailing the National Organization for Marriage’s unprecedented attempts to circumvent election disclosure laws, and how federal courts and state election boards continue to reject NOM’s claims - on at least six different occasions, the most recent earlier this month.

“For some reason, NOM thinks it doesn’t have to comply with the donor disclosure laws,” said Joe Solmonese, HRC President. “NOM’s aggressive legal strategy to keep its donors secret begs the question, what are they hiding? Is it that they realize it’s no longer popular to be openly anti-gay?”

NOM is the nation’s leading anti-gay organization that opposes marriage and civil unions for committed gay and lesbian couples. Since 2007, NOM has been a leading funder (reportedly with a $20 million budget this year) of legislative and voter referendum campaigns against marriage equality. The group has a documented, unimpeachable record of harboring anti-gay animus.

The latest in NOM's string of legal defeats came on August 11 when the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals rejected NOM’s challenges in Maine and Rhode Island.  The Wall Street Journal put the cases into perspective. “The 1st Circuit issued rulings in two cases that raise an important campaign finance issue: the extent to which states can require advocacy groups to report details about their expenditures in support of candidates or political causes.”

Over the past few years, NOM and its lead counsel, James Bopp, Jr., have vigorously argued against donor disclosure in several states, including in Maine, Minnesota, New York, California and Rhode Island. In each of these states, NOM’s case was thrown out. For a summary of what happened in each of these states, visit NOM Exposed.

NOM argues that LGBT advocates and their supporters will harass, intimidate, even damage property of the donors, should their identities be known. But courts have soundly rejected NOM’s harassment allegations. For example, a federal judge in California pointed out that “numerous of the acts about which [they] complain are mechanisms relied upon, both historically and lawfully, to voice dissent… This court cannot condemn those who have legally exercised their own constitutional rights in order to display their dissatisfaction with [NOM’s] cause.”

Notably, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Scalia encourages more sunlight in the political process, not less.  In Doe v. Reed, he wrote: “Requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed. For my part, I do not look forward to a society which, thanks to the Supreme Court, campaigns anonymously…and even exercises the direct democracy of initiative and referendum hidden from public scrutiny and protected from the accountability of criticism. This does not resemble the Home of the Brave.”

The full memo can be viewed here.  

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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