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Archives – July, 2010

You asked, and NOM’s Brian Brown was forced to answer (re-posted)

(Many folks did not receive their usual e-mail alert when this went up late yesterday, so re-posting it -Adam)

By Adam Bink

This is a must-see video I had to highlight for you from this afternoon’s event in Rochester, MN. In fact, given the #NOMTurnoutFAIL in yet another parking lot, one could argue it’s the highlight:

In the video, Arisha puts forward several of the questions you asked in today’s open question thread and other places, including the role of religion in our government, what people say when they mean “a Christian nation”, and on whether Brown agrees with other speakers that gay people are “perverted”, “diseased”, “unfit parents”, have propensity to be pedophiles, or other such distasteful comments. Watch his response- he clearly gets uncomfortable with the latter question from Sagesse in today’s thread, and by the fact that speakers at his rally are saying such things.

Keep those questions coming, everyone, and we’ll continue to put Brian on the hot seat.

125 Comments July 31, 2010

Sock Puppets and Sugar Daddies: NOM and GOProud hand in hand

By Rick Jacobs

(Cross-posted at Huffington Post)

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is halfway through its 20-state “One Man, One Woman” tour at which approximately one man and one woman seem to show up for them at each stop.   But what NOM lacks in popular, grassroots support, it more than makes up for in apparently laundered money. Wednesday, NOM announced that it would spend untold sums to advertise in Spanish in California in support of Carly Fiorina, the failed CEO who wants to buy a Senate seat.

Not to be outdone, a few miles south of here in San Diego, a year-old right wing group called GOProud has carved out a niche for itself as the NOM of the gay right wing.  GOProud, a so-called 527 organization that exists to influence the outcome of federal elections, is the first “gay” organization to accept funds from Doug Manchester and his Hyatt Hotel in San Diego that has been under boycott for two years.  Mr. Manchester denies workers their rights and put $125,000 into the Prop. 8 campaign just as it qualified for the ballot.

What do these two organizations have in common?  Quite a lot, it turns out.

NOM is under investigation by the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) for failure to disclose contributors to the 2008 campaign to take marriage away from Americans.  It is also under court order in Maine to disclose its contributors to the ballot measure there last November that took marriage away from more Americans.  Both of these governmental investigations and actions are largely due to Fred Karger, the intrepid co-founder of the boycott against Manchester and now a candidate for the Republican nomination for president.

NOM is accused of laundering large sums of money directed to it by the Catholic and Mormon Churches into campaigns, ads and even tours.  As Courage Campaign and our friends at Freedom to Marry have seen on our NOM Tour Tracker, the money is not used to get out crowds; it is used instead for fancy buses, staff and most importantly for raw politics.  NOM is the classic, if well-heeled sock puppet.

But what of GOProud?  It received at least $16,000 from Mr. Manchester’s entities which constitutes 86% of its total reported budget.  That’s right.  GOProud seems proud to go right to a sugar daddy who happily wrote checks to another front organization, apparently so Mr. Manchester and his Hyatt could say, “We’re okay now. Even though we paid to take marriage away from potentially millions of people, we’ve just given money to a right-wing gay organization, the purpose of which is to raise and spend money to support candidates who oppose marriage and equality for all.”

Are you following this?  It’s complicated, but it’s in the tradition of Andrew Breitbart and right-wing dirty tricks.  For two solid years, UNITE HERE, the hotel and restaurant workers union, has stood firm with groups like Courage Campaign and the entire LGBT community in San Diego to boycott Mr. Manchester’s property. UNITE HERE fought diligently against Prop. 8 and has continued to demand equality at every opportunity. For two years, Mr. Manchester has suffered a huge loss in revenue.  And for nearly two years, Mr. Manchester has retained the services of people like gay PR man Howard Bragman, who makes money by advising stars on coming out of the closet and donors to Prop. 8 in gay-washing their dirty money.  (Mr. Bragman wrote here on HuffPo that he supports boycotts, but that seemed to change when Mr. Manchester started to pay him to break the boycott that he said he supported.)

The irony of it all is that Mr. Manchester and his advisors seem to have found their ideal fake solution to their anti-American, anti-equality money machine. They can give money to GOProud so that GOProud can be a gay voice in support of anti-gay and regressive candidates such as Mary Bono Mack, Oklahoma’s Tom Coburn and Carly Fiorina.  Indeed, GOProud advertised against Tom Campbell, the only Republican in the Senate race who supports full equality for LGBT people.  GOProud proves that self-loathing knows no bounds.

Courage and our allies at UNITE HERE and virtually the entire LGBT community will proudly continue to honor the boycott of Manchester hotels as we all become increasingly wary of Hyatt itself. We’ll also continue to track NOM on its tour and its money hose so that the true movement for equality and American progress can prevail.

Sock puppets and sugar daddies. It could be the title of a book about the end of right wing, anti-family, fear mongers.  In fact, it’s a sad commentary on desperate people who realize that they stand at the fringes of America and history itself.  Until progress prevails, we’ll hold them all accountable.

91 Comments July 31, 2010

Meet the Trackers, part 1: Anthony Ash

By Adam Bink

We’ve gone several weeks here at NOMTourTracker.com covering NOM and all their crazy #FAIL. You’ve seen the video interviews with everyone from Larry Adams and Brian Brown to Monica Meyer and equality supporters across the country.

But what you (and I!) don’t know a whole lot about is who is bringing you that coverage. Where do those videos come from, anyway?

They come from this man:

Anthony Ash, NOMTourTracker.com

But wait, you say: who is that man behind the camera? Where is he from? And what awesome product keeps his hair so upright, anyway?

We will answer that question today in a new series I’ve started called “Meet the Trackers”- an introduction between you and our tracking team on the road. Below is a series of questions I put together to help us meet our intrepid trackers and learn a little bit more about who they are, what they do, what makes them tick, and the crucial question, what occupation they think Maggie Gallagher would hold if she wasn’t with NOM.

Today’s interview is with Anthony Ash, the current NOMTourTracker.com videographer.

Where do you hail from?

From the bible belt of California, Fresno.

What brings you to Courage Campaign and the pro-equality movement?

I got my start at Camp Courage and I was so moved by the experience that I knew that Courage and this movement was where I belonged.

With the Courage Campaign, you’re the Central California Field Organizer. How long have you been with Courage, and what does that role look like?

I have been with Courage since May of 2009. As the Central California Field Organizer I find myself being a bit of a chameleon. The Central California region is very diverse with areas that are very developed and very rural. My organizing also takes many different forms from organizing a Prop 8 decision day rally to organizing voter actions for local and statewide elections.

Got any favorite California propositions you’re pulling for election or defeat of?

Well, I hope Meg Whitman goes back to eBay and leaves California politics alone. I am also rooting for the passage of Prop. 19 [to legalize and regulate certain marijuana-related activities].

Any predictions for what Ahnold will do upon leaving the governor’s mansion?

Lord willing RETIRE from EVERYTHING!

Tell us what a day in the life on the road with NOM looks like, from eye-open to eye-shut.

I don’t think I’ve gotten to close my eyes yet.

Best and worst meals you’ve had on the road during the NOM tour. Go.

Best- at a restaurant in Madison called “old fashioned.” REALLY good burger! But still not quite sure what a cheese curd is.

Worst- Indianapolis, Peppy’s grill. The only place that we could find on Yelp that was open late. I had to wring my French fries out and my burger was made the complete opposite of what I wanted, it included ONLY the things I ask to have taken off.

Tell us where you think the pro-marriage equality movement is going.

Well, regardless of where this movement is going, it is definitely going to be a marathon rather than a sprint. One thing that I have observed from being on the road with the opposition, is they are always looking for a new spin or new angle that they could use to strike fear and hate into people. As we learned with the Bush administration, fear and hate can be very motivating.

When you’re not working on winning marriage equality for same-sex couples and exposing NOM’s failures and falsehoods, what issues most interest you?

HIV prevention and advocacy- I have some very close friends and loved ones that is affected by this issue.

The NOM tour stopped in Lima, Ohio, where the hit TV show Glee is fictionally set. If you could quote Sue Sylvester to Brian Brown, what would you say?

“I’m going to ask you to smell your armpits. That’s the smell of failure, and it’s stinking up my office.”

Okay, you’ve wrestled control of the stereo from your fellow NOM Tour Trackers for the drive to the next stop. What’s on tap for the next couple of hours?

Well, I am a musical floozy and listen to all types of music. BUT on long road trips there is nothing that can make the time go by faster than my FAV Kelly Clarkson! If you see three Californians driving by and the guy is rocking out, that’s ME and I’m probably rocking out to Kelly (sorry gays that I didn’t say Gaga).

We all know Courage Campaign’s Eden James is a fountain of wisdom for organizers. My favorite nugget of wisdom: “On conference calls, silence equals consent.” Yours?

“Can someone mute themselves?” or “If it’s not written down, it never happened”.

Finish this sentence: When this tour ends, the first thing I’m going to do when I get home is…

SLEEP!

Finish this sentence: If Maggie Gallagher had any other occupation, she would…

A telemarketer- she’s used to rejection.

Last question: if you could have any three dinner guests, who would they be and what would you serve?

All I’m asking for is a one on one dinner with Ricky Martin, can someone out there make that happen?!

Got any closing message for our readers here at NOMTourTracker.com?

Keep fighting for equality! As we make these stops across the country following NOM, it makes me so proud to be doing what I am doing out here on the road when I see so many people fighting for equality show up to these events. In Madison, when I saw nearly 500 equality supporters coming down the road, I had a hard time filming because the tears wouldn’t stop coming.

93 Comments July 31, 2010

You asked, and NOM’s Brian Brown was forced to answer

By Adam Bink

This is a must-see video I had to highlight for you from this afternoon’s event in Rochester, MN. In fact, given the #NOMTurnoutFAIL in yet another parking lot, one could argue it’s the highlight:

In the video, Arisha puts forward several of the questions you asked in today’s open question thread and other places, including the role of religion in our government, what people say when they mean “a Christian nation”, and on whether Brown agrees with other speakers that gay people are “perverted”, “diseased”, “unfit parents”, have propensity to be pedophiles, or other such distasteful comments. Watch his response- he clearly gets uncomfortable with the latter question from Sagesse in today’s thread, and by the fact that speakers at his rally are saying such things.

Keep those questions coming, everyone, and we’ll continue to put Brian on the hot seat.

159 Comments July 30, 2010

NOM in Rochester, MN: Return of the sparsely-attended parking lot

(Today our team is coming to you from Rochester, MN, home of the Mayo Clinic and 153 miles southeast of yesterday’s visit in St. Cloud (they actually had to drive back through St. Paul, where we were on Wednesday, to get here!). If you missed yesterday’ s dueling rallies in St. Cloud, MN, you can find coverage here. You can also find coverage from the big rallies in St. Paul, including video of an especially moving equality rally under the rotunda in the Minnesota State Capitol, by clicking here and here -Adam)

By Arisha Michelle Hatch

The NOM rally has just begun and not many people – be they NOM supporters or equality activists – have found their way to this rural Minnesota church- the New Life Worship Center, which is set in the middle of a large green pasture.

New Life Worship Center in Rochester MN

We count a total of 18 NOM attendees, 9 NOM staffers/volunteers, and 2 priests in yet another parking lot:

Anti-equality supporters in Rochester, MN

(And yes, that’s our old friend, Minnesota Family Council’s Chuck Darrell, of yesterday’s interview fame, who is speaking)

This recalls the #NOMTurnoutFAIL at the parking lot in Lima, Ohio:

NOM's empty-parking lot rally in Lima, Ohio

This event was like that, only with more priests. Actually, if you look at the two images, there’s not a lot of difference.

7 pro-equality supporters stand about 1,000 feet away in this very remote and rural location. We’re in the parking lot witnessing the event. However, the Rochester Olmstead Central Command, a mid-sized RV unit filled presumably with police officers, found the New Life Worship Center just fine; we counted seven police officers.

The local NBC affiliate came to interview Brian Brown, but drove off just before the rally began. One other non-NOM camera crew here.

More to come…

UPDATE BY ARISHA (10:48 PST): In the middle of the rally. The sound system went ironically as Brown spoke of being silenced by equality activists. Whoops. Nonetheless, he kept talking until the sound was quickly repaired.

Our old friend, Chuck Darryl, just finished speaking. He stuck to his traditional talking points speech from St. Cloud, veering completely off-message only once.

“There’s this revisionist notion that faith stops [at the church],” Darrell began. “They believe the lie about the separation of church and state… and what happens is there’s no Christian biblical mindset or voice.”

UPDATE BY ADAM (11:26 PST): Here’s one of the pro-equality supporters, Bob Werner, being interviewed by the local Channel 6 news:

Bob Werner, a pro-equality supporter, being interviewed in Rochester, MN

Phyllis has the video of the interview, which we’ll have up later today.

UPDATE BY ADAM (12:02 PST): A really weird quote from Brian Brown at today’s rally (h/t LLB from the comments):

If we do not stand up for marriage we will be treated under the law as bigots.

One interpretation is that this plays along with NOM’s effort to paint themselves as the poor, oppressed minority standing up for “civil rights”. E.g., if Brown and his comrades do not “stand up” for marriage by using that frame, the rest of the world will see them as bigots denying freedom and equality to their peers.

Or, another interpretation from Str8 AlEye Mikael in the comments:

“If laws protecting gays are passed, we will have to confess to our true nature, and we will be held lawfully accountable for the ways in which we treat those different from ourselves!” There’s a word for that, and I think it rhymes with spigot…

Also, I will have video coming of a today’s chat between Arisha and Brian Brown (it’s a lengthy one), as well as video of the local TV interview with Bob Werner, a local equality supporter.

UPDATE BY ADAM (1:05 PST): Remarkable quote #2:

“It is 1972 for marriage. This is the same as the time as before Roe v. Wade. . . . What if William Wilberforce listened to those telling him not to bring his religion into the public square?”

Right, because same-sex marriage equality is the same thing as the slave trade. William Wilberforce was a prominent British abolitionist.

116 Comments July 30, 2010

Hey, readers: what would you ask NOM?

By Adam Bink

Out there on the road, we at NOMTourTracker.com are endeavoring to ask the tough questions of NOM and their leadership. You’ve seen Arisha’s aggressive questioning of Brian Brown, Maggie Gallagher, and others- she doesn’t take any prisoners. She and the rest of the NOMTourTracker.com team are working to demonstrate that the claims spouted by NOM and allied groups are false (see Arisha’s questioning here), exposing fringe haters like Larry Adams and their homophobic, pro-violence views (here), and seeing if there is any daylight between groups like NOM and Larry Adams (asking that of Brian Brown here).

But we don’t have all the questions. And that’s why we’re turning to you!

So we’re asking you, what questions would you ask NOM? What point do you think needs to be made about why marriage is love, or claims that need to be rebutted, or “facts” that need to be checked?

Reply here in the comments, and we’ll select the best ones for our NOMTourTracker.com team to ask on the road. And if you like other commenters’ suggestions, be sure to hit reply on their comment and say so. We’re a community, and we value your opinion.

And for those of you on Twitter, try asking your questions to NOM (@NOMTweets) directly using this format, and we’ll track those too:
.@nomtweets “your question here” #heyNOM

Example:
.@nomtweets “Do you see my love?” #heyNOM

So submit those questions in the comments or on Twitter, and let’s put NOM on the hot seat.

UPDATE (6:57 PST): I just tweeted:

@adamjbink .@nomtweets What are NOM’s efforts to make it harder to get divorced, in the interest of protecting marriage? #heyNOM

320 Comments July 30, 2010

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