March 30, 2012
By Scottie Thomaston
Later this year Maryland voters will decide in a referendum whether the recently passed marriage equality law will stay in place. The National Organization for Marriage has been meddling in the state for years in their endless campaign to turn people of different races against each other. As the Washington Post points out, NOM has pledged $1 million to defeat Republicans who voted to pass marriage equality legislation in the state.
But now, their tactics have been brought out into the light and equality organizations are fighting back. Marylanders for Marriage Equality released a new ad, circulating it around on social media, to make voters aware of NOM’s race-baiting strategy:
The graphic released Thursday afternoon responds to news that a Maine court released confidential memos of the National Organization Marriage. The memos outlined strategy to split the Democratic Party base by pitting blacks and Hispanics against gay-rights groups.
Released by Marylanders for Marriage Equality, a coalition of groups supporting same-sex marriage, the ad suggests NOM’s strategy is to “drive a wedge between gays and blacks” while supporters of Maryland’s month-old gay marriage law want to “showcase love, commitment and strong families.”
Along with the ad, they’ve released a statement from the Maryland State NAACP Political Action Committee:
The Maryland coalition also released a statement by Elbridge James, chairman of the Maryland State NAACP Political Action Committee, calling NOM’s tactics “deplorable.”
“Regardless of where you are on this issue, there is no room for racial exploitation,” James said. “The people of Maryland should not be used.”
Since Maryland is a particularly diverse state, race-baiting tactics have the potential to be uncomfortably effective. Keeping in mind that NOM’s strategy was in two parts – first, find racial minorities to speak out against gay people and to comparisons of gay rights with civil rights, and second, to provoke gays into calling these people “bigots” and other things – it’s important that Maryland is doing this right now. We certainly do not need to fall into NOM’s trap on issues like this.
Polling on this issue in Maryland shows such a close fight that at this point it could go either way. It would be more productive to focus on genuine opposition or support instead of allowing outside groups to come in and deliberately try to drive wedges between minority communities and provoke people into saying or doing hurtful things to other people. If the marriage law is going to fail, should it not fail on its own? Can the opposition only pull off a win by hurting a countless number of people and stirring up resentment on purpose?
I said this about NOM’s mention of developing “a media campaign” based on black opposition to marriage equality:
I find their mention of a “media campaign” quite interesting; at the very least it seems like it’s been effective, even if they didn’t directly push all these things into the spotlight. There have always been stories of a divide between the black and LGBT communities, but it is increasingly prevalent. Stories are coming up left and right. In North Carolina there are fears of “black pastors” (but not white ones) coming after gay people. In Maryland it’s “black pastors along with black politicians” coming after gay people. And there’s the constant stream of media focus on the president’s stance on marriage equality and how, supposedly, he “can’t” come out in support of marriage for gays and lesbians “because he might lose the black vote.”
This seemed to be part of the narrative coming out of the Maryland vote on marriage over the past few years and now it has been exposed as deliberate. Now that it’s out there let’s hope no one plays their game.