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Days and Slights: This Week in NOM (Sep. 18 – Sep. 24)

NOM Exposed Right-wing

Cross-posted at Good As You

By Jeremy Hooper

Dear NOM Watcher,

Life is marked by transitions. Birth. Death. Switching shampoos. Oh, and perhaps biggest for our interest: Marriage.

So too, NOM. This week, we saw all kinds of NOM transitions, from the birth of a new group to the end of a former reign. All of which provide us with new ways to glean insight into the group that wants to put vice grips on marriage and its meaning.

We’ll look at it all. But first let’s get started with a little thea-tuh.

Maggie takes aisle seat

The most ridiculous NOM story of the week actually happened at the very beginning. On Monday night, NOM’s Maggie Gallagher actually showed up at the one night only production of 8, Dustin Lance Black’s dramatic structuring of the Prop 8 trial transcripts. Amid an audience that surely rejects her work more than just about any other per capita crowd ever assembled in American history, there she was, the most identifiable member of the organization that spearheaded Prop 8 and continues to push similar measures across the country and federally. She just showed up, as if it were The Lion King or something. That takes some nerve!

Oh, and it also takes some cash, which Maggie had to contribute directly to the American Foundation for Equal Rights in order to claim her seat. So that means Maggie’s now an AFER donor, which is pretty darn delicious!

But why was she there, really? Well, a later-in-week NOM development might provide that answer. Stay tuned for some speculation on that.

(*Photo evidence courtesy of Freedom To Marry’s Josh Meltzer)

John takes head chair

But while the Maggie-on-Broadway news was certainly the most bizarre moment, the biggest NOM development this week revolved around the announcement of a new Board Chair. We learned mid week that Maggie is moving on to other NOM projects (more on that in a sec), so in her stead, NOM has chosen prominent conservative attorney, professor, and failed California Attorney General candidate John C. Eastman.

My first reaction: Big shocker. NOM has been all kinds of into Eastman and his career for quite some time. In fact, when John was running for CA AG, NOM co-hosted a big ticket D.C. fundraiser for the candidate. This was followed by Eastman actually running, without any qualification or comment, NOM press releases, verbatim, on his campaign website. And during that 2010 cycle, NOM president Brian Brown even described Eastman’s ultimately unsuccessful bid (he lost to Democrat Kamala Harris) as “one of the most important races in the country.” So the connections were there, plain as the gay-slighting day. This official role is just a formalization of a long-standing relationship.

So what do we know about Eastman? Well, from my hours of vetting, I found lots of pragmatic legalese, suggesting that we’re likely going to get a more measured voice who will strive to up NOM’s scholarly credentials. With Eastman, NOM can play the “he’s a lawyer” card, which will surely earn points with some. In looking at his past, I see a new NOM chair who will most likely play a button-downed, “just that (false) facts, ma’am” role.

But that being said: I did find a few eye-openers amid the jargon. For instance: Back in 2003, Eastman pushed a very anti-LGBT/pro-”ex-gay” column penned by noted extremist Scott Lively (Google “Scott Lively” and “Uganda” and prepare to be mind-blown). In 2000, Eastman positioned homosexuality as, along with abortion, one of the twentieth centuries’ “twin relics of barbarism.” In that same year, he referred to gay-straight alliances as “incubators of moral relativism.” And perhaps the most insight into the new NOM Chair’s views came when he defended the Boy Scouts’ gay-exclusionary practices in court, applauding the organization for standing against the “currently fashionable view that homosexual conduct is just another legitimate lifestyle choice.

Obviously, we’ll have to wait and see what the Eastman era brings. But from past writings, it’s pretty clear that marriage isn’t his only LGBT-centric sticking point, even if his new role will demand him to stick only to the “protect marriage” script.

Timothy takes dogmatic pen and stationary

In terms of NOM’s now patently obvious Catholic basis: The organization was quick to jump on a new letter that Archbishop Timothy Dolan, President of the US Bishops Conference, sent to the Obama administration. The gist of the letter, as you might expect, revolved around Dolan chastising the “attacks” that the President has supposedly waged against “traditional marriage.” It’s typical stuff from a church leadership that seems to think personal faith beliefs are perfectly fair planks from which to sink certain *CIVIL* rights.

All you have to do to recognize the overstep is to look at how NOM staffers headlined their take on the Dolan letter, a single line reading: “US Bishops Step Up, Demand Obama Administration Cease Its Attacks on Marriage and Family.” It’s not the “attack” part with which I have a big problem, since the NOM crowd has “boy who cried wolf” that term into a de-contextualized state that no longer persuades anyone. To me, the more egregious word here is “demand.” It says all you need to know about how NOM and figures like Archbishop Dolan view this conversation. They seem to think that religious freedom affords them with the right to make such demands. The goal seems to be for everyone, regardless of chosen faith beliefs, to uncritically submit to their religious dictums. Chilling.

In his letter, Dolan writes of the “growing sense of urgency” he feels towards the modern marriage fight. Well I say, “Right back atcha, Timothy!” Only my urgency pertains to Dolan and NOM’s marriage between civil and canonical law, not the growing sense of marriage equality that is slowly but surely bettering this nation.

‘Anti-Defamation’ takes dictionary, checks if term longer means anything

On Friday came word of what Maggie will be doing with her newfound spare time: She’s heading a NOM-branded project called “The Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance,” in which she’ll try to “to create a supportive community for those who have been threatened for standing for marriage, to nip the climate of fear being created in the bud, to expose for fair-minded Americans on both sides of the debate the threats being made, to conduct high-quality qualitative and quantitative research documenting the extent of the harm, to develop legislative and community proposal to protect Americans right to engage in the core civil rights: to organize, to vote, to speak, to donate, and to write for marriage.” Naturally.

I’ve already mused, at length, about why NOM is directing resources toward this effort. In short: The organization wants to change not only America’s laws but also the American psyche itself, so that the organic script of greater equality building a stronger nation (i.e. the tried and true script we’ve seen throughout history) will flip in their favor. They are trying to change the psychology so that people won’t follow their instinct towards seeing civil rights deprival as a discriminatory act. For a fully fleshed out take on this, see my NOM Exposed post on the subject.

This late-in-week news of this ADA project also takes us back to week’s begin: The 8 play and why Maggie might’ve been there. Just think about it: Maggie is launching a new project all about how marriage equality activists are the big bad meanies who are constantly in search of some other “traditional marriage” proponent to attack. So what would’ve been a better way for Maggie to launch her new time-waster than with a video of some playgoers acting like she so desperately wants them to act? It’s likely that she wanted some sort of story, photo, or video that would give her new ADA project some launch fuel. In terms of the politics (detached from merit), it would be smart strategy.

Word on the street is that Maggie even tried to go backstage. Well of course she did: Because just imagine what kind of story she could’ve launched with, had she managed to coax one of the actors or, better yet, their real life counterparts into a red-faced tirade against her? Picture someone like Ted Olson scoffing at Maggie Gallagher. You would have heard Maggie “squee!“-ing from coast to coast! The Prop 8 proponents (and NOM in particular) would have had fundraising pitch letters written before Maggie had even hailed her cab home. I’d bet money that Maggie’s ADA effort was a big reason why she showed up in that theatre Monday night: To all-but-taunt her opposition into saying or doing something stupid.

But by all accounts (including Maggie’s telling lack of personal report), no big run-in took place. Because the truth is that while any equality activist who sees Maggie would be understandably likely to roll a reasoned eye or shake a principled head, few on the side of civil fairness want to “defame” her in any way. What we want is for this contrived fight — one that has provided Maggie with a huge financial windfall for years now — to come to an immediate end. We don’t want or need to foster a “climate of fear,” as NOM claims in the ADA press materials. Our one goal is to silence the fear campaigns that groups like NOM have perpetuated for their own duplicitous gains, so that we might finally achieve the sense of peace and fairness that will allow more people to work more closely on TRUE social issues. Because this world sure has enough of them, none of which involve love, rings, or chicken dances.

Until next week,

-Jeremy

Jeremy Hooper

Good As You/ NOM Exposed

25 Comments

  • 1. Kate  |  September 26, 2011 at 8:09 am

    Vise grips, not vice. Although "vice" is certainly appropriate!

  • 2. LCH  |  September 26, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Re: Maggies' new gig. This may be a make lemonade from lemons situation. From the tone of the press release, left on her own, Mag's is going to go off piste to the point of being listed a full blown hate group; something that NOM has managed only to come close to the edge of doing.

  • 3. LCH  |  September 26, 2011 at 8:45 am

    Forgot to subscribe.

  • 4. Ronnie  |  September 26, 2011 at 8:53 am

    Maggie G's "'Marriage' Anti-deceny Alliance: Pillorying & Defaming" thing… is a joke.. (rolls eyes) 8 / …. Subscribing & sharing….

    Sen. Kay Hagan Backs Employment Nondiscrimination Act http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2011/09/2

    “I’m announcing today that I will be signing on as a cosponsor to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA),” Hagan, a Democrat, said in a statement released in conjunction with the NC Pride Festival at Duke University. “Discrimination must never be tolerated, and I believe that all Americans deserve an equal opportunity to fulfill their potential.”

    <3…Ronnie

  • 5. Alan_Eckert  |  September 26, 2011 at 8:55 am

  • 6. Michael  |  September 26, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Good Morning from rainy Portland, Oregon. Question: What happens come Friday when Judge Ware's stay order expires? Does the appeal court have to answer by then????? Thanks for any answers.

  • 7. Alan_Eckert  |  September 26, 2011 at 9:30 am

    There is currently an appeal for an emergency stay before the 9th Circuit. If he 9th doesn't stay it, then it will be sent up to the Supreme Court. We may not know anything until the 30th, though.

  • 8. James Sweet  |  September 26, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Amid an audience that surely rejects her work more than just about any other per capita crowd ever assembled in American history, there she was, the most identifiable member of the organization that spearheaded Prop 8 and continues to push similar measures across the country and federally. She just showed up, as if it were The Lion King or something. That takes some nerve!

    I'm sorry, but I strongly disagree with the notion that Ms. Gallagher was in the wrong somehow by showing up for this public event. As you point out, she paid her money — going to the Good Guys, nonetheless! — and she does not seem to have caused a problem. How does that take "some nerve"?

    Consider if, hypothetically, NOM was putting on their own reenactment of the trial, somehow with a different spin. And it was open to the public. Would we not want to have someone affiliated with P8TT at the event, to see how they were portraying it and report back? That is perfectly fair play.

    What "takes some nerve" is actually being Maggie Gallagher in the first place, i.e. that she has worked so hard and so persistently to get her hateful views codified into law. But if we've already accounted for that, I see nothing additionally wrong with her showing up for the "8" reading.

    And need I remind you that Louis Marinelli's change of heart and subsequent departure from NOM were precipitated by him engaging with the LGBT community rather than "respectfully" staying away? I guess it took "some nerve" for him to actually talk to gay people and then change his mind.

    Engagement is good for our side, and bad for their side. And that includes Maggie Gallagher coming to the reading of "8". Let's not criticize her for that, okay?

  • 9. Michael  |  September 26, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Much thanks……so a decision will be made, one way or the other, by the 30th?

  • 10. frisky1  |  September 26, 2011 at 10:15 am

    You make a good point that NOM would want someone there to see the play. However, Maggie Srivastav is a polarizing and well known figure and of course she knows it. I tend to agree more with Jeremy's take that she was there to taunt rather than gather information. Goodness knows, she'd probably just make up something about the play anyway if she wanted to write about it to her audience.

    Also, Louis has pretty much given up on his pro-gay advocacy. He's in some weird area where he's in full support of Rick Perry and all his ultra right wing conservative "principles" except he thinks SSM should be legal (at least he's sticking with that). So its quite unclear what his motives for ditching NOM really were. My guess is he's looking for a way to be rich and famous without actually doing anything and he thought he could hitch a ride on the right side of marriage equality.

  • 11. Leo  |  September 26, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Some decision will be made, but it may not be a final decision. The 9th Circuit could order a temporary stay past the 30th while they consider the motion to stay pending appeal, and then later order a longer stay pending appeal (or not). IIRC that's what they did with Judge Walker's ruling.

  • 12. Ann S.  |  September 26, 2011 at 10:50 am

    §

  • 13. James Sweet  |  September 26, 2011 at 10:52 am

    But unless she actually did taunt, you cannot put motives in her brain for her and criticize her simply for being there. That's dirty pool. There's just so so so much to criticize about these asshats, I don't think we need to criticize them for showing up at an event that is open to the public and quietly observing.

    As far as Mr. Marinelli, it's possible what you say, but if so he's a fool — he is permanently persona non grata in anti-marriage equality circles now, and that includes a lot of the folks you would want to be friends with if you wanted to make it big as a right wing kook. I think more likely he's been a True Believer all along, but actually talking to gay people made him realize just how untenable his anti-marriage equality stance was. Dollars to donuts, if he actually spent some time, say, talking to people whose lives had been destroyed by runaway hospital bills, people who had tried to do the right thing but wound up uninsured at just the wrong time or dropped from their insurance for unfair reasons, maybe he'd have a change of heart there too.

    The problem is that if you're so low in the empathy department that you can't understand why a particular group shouldn't be repeatedly and viciously kicked in the balls over and over again (figuratively speaking, of course) without spending a whole lot of time individually interacting with real people who have been figuratively groin-kicked in that way… well, there's not enough hours in the day to personally meet every single individual that a decent and caring person ought to have empathy for. So even if Marinelli is able to develop empathy for people if he interacts with them enough, his characteristically right-wing default reaction of "fuck 'em/not with my tax dollars/etc." to public policy issues is still going to carry the day most of the time.

    That's how I'd imagine it at least.

  • 14. Alan_Eckert  |  September 26, 2011 at 10:56 am

    I made a comment about this before, but Louis thought he could use his experience and fame in the same-sex marriage issue to also create a soapbox where he could shout his other political views. He thought for a minute that he would get no flak or criticism about these views because of his support for same-sex marriage. He claimed that SSM was becoming a backburner issue in his blog where that was the very issue that got his start. One can't ignore that because he hasn't established any credentials in other political areas yet. And of course (I know fiona64 was a big commenter there) people are going to comment on his other views and won't hold back.

  • 15. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  September 26, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Not to mention she did NOT just sit there quietly and observe the performance….she purposely created a disturbance for those around her by eating loud food with loud noisy packaging.
    It is pretty clear she wanted to cause a scene, but failed…..
    (she and NOM fail often thankfully)

  • 16. AnonyGrl  |  September 26, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Unfortunately, it seems likely that will happen. Courts seem to be in favor of the status quo while in the appeals process, so they are probably going to extend the stay till the appeal is ruled on.

    That is my guess, anyway.

  • 17. frisky1  |  September 26, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Maggie Gallagher is fully aware that she is a well known and much despised figure and that by going to go to this play, she would be sitting in the middle of a room full of people who's lives (and their family's and friends lives) she's helping to put on hold and/or destroy. I don't believe for one second that she wouldn't have welcomed, and probably hoped for, a few negative comments directed toward her, in public at a pro-gay rights event, even if they were outside the theater. I'll concede that I don't know what's in her head, just what she's done and focused on in the past–including playing victim. But now that her main job is to document attacks on NOM and its supporters, the taunting angle gets pushed up to the top, at least for me. NOM could have sent any lackey to watch the play, heck they could have sent the new guy whatshisname since he's their new figurehead, and I'm sure they could have gotten a copy of the script.

  • 18. Leo  |  September 26, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    I think it's virtually certain in this case because of the nature of the relief. Denying a stay would be tantamount to dismissing the appeal: the horse would be out of the barn and the appeal would become moot.

  • 19. frisky1  |  September 26, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    His atheism is another sticking point in his quest to fit in with America's Christian New World Order. Regarding SSM being a backburner issue, on his facebook page at least 95% of the comments were pro-gay rights peeps discussing gay rights. The few times he tried to inject some of his conservative views, he was met with the same pushback as you describe on his blog. A few weeks ago he declared that he would ban and block all support for non-conservative views. I haven't been back in a while so I don't know if he actually followed through, but really the only people interested in him at all were the pro-gay rights crowd and he's pretty much lost them now too.

  • 20. AnonyGrl  |  September 26, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Exactly. Hmmm… is there any way we can set FIRE to this barn? :)

  • 21. AnonyGrl  |  September 26, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    You have to KNOW you are inconsequential when you can't even get yourself thrown out of places.
    :)

  • 22. Greg  |  September 26, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Not too put too fine a point on it, but I think the last thing Ms. Gallagher needs is more food…

  • 23. RainbowWarrior  |  September 26, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Pretty sure it's not even defamation if it's the truth. If we say "Maggie Gallagher doesn't want gay people to have civil rights," we are stating her position, not defaming her. Now if I were to say, for example, "Maggie Gallagher lures little gay children into her house with rainbow-colored sweets and then boils them alive in holy water and eats them with a remoulade sauce," that would probably be defamation. I hope to God it would be defamation. But "Maggie Gallagher spends her life tirelessly working to keep same-sex couples from getting the same rights and benefits as hetero couples, to no apparent personal gain" can't really be called defamation. Anybody with access to Google could come to that conclusion. You don't defame the sky by calling it blue. ;P

  • 24. Fluffyskunk  |  September 26, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Us fat people are people too. I'd appreciate it if we could all try to judge Ms. Gallagher by the content of her character rather than her weight.

  • 25. James Sweet  |  September 27, 2011 at 5:22 am

    If she deliberately tried to disturb the performance by crinkling food wrappers, then that "takes some nerve," I'll absolutely agree. But I'm sorry, the mere act of showing up at a public event is not fair grounds of criticism. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it! :)

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