Federal Court Dismisses National Organization for Marriage Lawsuit Challenging Disclosure Laws

by HRC Staff

Judge Criticizes NOM Legal Filing as "Argumentative,""Mass of Verbiage"

Washington- A federal court yesterday dismissed a lawsuit by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) filed last month in Rhode Island. NOM, the leading anti-LGBT force in the country, argued that it should be able to run ads on behalf of Rhode Island Republican gubernatorial candidate John Robitaille, who strongly opposes marriage equality, without having to report its expenditures or comply with other campaign finance laws. NOM is embarking on a ruthless campaign this election cycle to defeat candidates who support marriage equality.

"NOM is boldly trying to circumvent campaign disclosure laws in a number of states," said Kevin Nix, Director of the NOM Project for the Human Rights Campaign. "They have so far failed in Rhode Island as they have elsewhere. Federal and state officials around the country should sit up and take notice of this fringe group's shadowy financing and questionable ethics."

Judge Mary M. Lisi dismissed NOM's complaint on grounds that it violated federal litigation rules. The court, among other things, found that "the factual allegations in the complaint are buried inテ conclusory and argumentative passages" and that it "places an unjustified burden on the court and the [state] to respond to it because they are forced to ferret out the relevant material from a mass of verbiage." The court gave NOM until next week to file an amended complaint that comports with the rules.

In its September court filing, NOM said it intends to "engage in multiple forms of speech in Rhode Island" in advance of the November 2 elections, "including radio ads, television ads, direct mail and publicly accessible Internet postings." Rhode Island law permits "independent expenditures" from organizations like NOM - but forbids these groups from coordinating any strategy or ads with candidates. Candidate John Robitaille stands to benefit most from NOM's ads - he opposes same-sex marriage.

NOM is fighting campaign finance laws in a number of states, including New York, Washington, California and Maine, where it remains under investigation by the Maine Ethics Commission for failing to register with the state as a ballot question committee and refusing to disclose the donors to its campaign to overturn Maine's marriage equality law in 2009.

Last week, HRC, in collaboration with the Courage Campaign, unveiled "NOM Exposed," a live, interactive website which reveals NOM's deep anti-gay affiliations, its long connections to the Mormon and Catholic churches and its quest to keep voters in the dark about its financing. The site is at www.NOMexposed.org.

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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