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Filed under: NOM Exposed

Iowa ethics board to investigate National Organization for Marriage

In response to a request by former presidential candidate Fred Karger, the Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board will investigate NOM for its involvement in the 2010 retention vote of three Supreme Court justices.

Continue 1 Comment August 9, 2013

What is going on at the National Organization for Marriage?

By Scottie Thomaston

This morning, Jeremy Hooper at Good As You reported that NOM wrote a series of odd, uncharacteristic blog posts and tweets that seemed to admit to past wrongdoing, attempting to cause racial divisions and banning multiple users for no reason whatsoever. The blog post vowed “to turn things around for the better,” suggesting that “marriage is about bringing people together, not pushing them apart” and that pushing people apart “is exactly what this organization has been about…” One of the tweets said that creating a wedge between the black and gay community was wrong.

Towleroad asks, “Has Jesus taken the wheel?”

Alas, no. It appears to have been the work of a hacker. The blog seems to be up and running again after a short time in which it said it was “down for maintenance.” The previous post admitting that racism is probably a bad tactic for an ostensibly religious organization to use is gone.

Their Facebook page unbanned Jeremy Hooper and other previously banned users for no apparent reason. Their page also posted a similar message of apology to readers and banned users.

Hilariously, NOM’s Twitter account has been completely hijacked and reworked. It is now a pro-equality account complete with a rainbow background image and LGBT humanity-affirming tweets. This happened shortly after they sent out tweets about a “mutiny” at NOM. How short-lived this will be remains to be seen.

26 Comments April 11, 2012

National Organization for Marriage wants feds to investigate the Human Rights Campaign

By Scottie Thomaston

After NOM’s plan to divide minorities and promote hostility between marginalized groups through race-baiting, homophobia and harassment of the children of gay couples was exposed, they at first attempted to play it off like it wasn’t a big deal at all. Then when national media outlets started reporting on it, NOM tried to continue race-baiting on live TV and elsewhere, by invoking black legislators or religious people in hopes that gays would lash out and call them a bigot. That didn’t work, either.

Then, it was discovered that when Mitt Romney donated to help the campaign to pass Proposition 8 in 2008, he sent his donation through unusual channels, making it difficult to find his donation. A whistleblower sent the filing to the Human Rights Campaign and it was leaked. Now that the memos are out and the questionable donation has been discovered, it has provided more evidence to back up the perception that NOM is desperate to hide their donors. NOM has a long sordid history of desperately attempting to hide donors from disclosure through a series of failed court challenges; in one of those challenges by a NOM-affiliated group, even Justice Antonin Scalia at one point called out their cowardice:

There are laws against threats and intimidation; and harsh criticism, short of unlawful action, is a price our people have traditionally been willing to pay for self-governance. 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.

And now NOM is responding by demanding a federal investigation into the Human Rights Campaign and the IRS:

“It appears that someone with either the IRS or the HRC may have committed a federal crime by illegally obtaining and then releasing a confidential tax return of the National Organization for Marriage,” said Brian Brown, NOM’s president. “It’s clear that the tax return was stolen, either from NOM or from the government. The Huffington Post article says that HRC claimed they received the document from a ‘whistleblower.’ But the term ‘whistleblower’ is completely inapt. We’re talking about a criminal who has stolen confidential tax return information. We demand to know who this criminal is, whether they work for the HRC or the IRS, and how they obtained confidential tax information filed only with the US government.”

Apparently, to take the spotlight off their odious tactics (and not to mention possible violations of the law, they are accusing the Human Rights Campaign of odious tactics and law-breaking. The HRC has a short blog post on the request for investigation.

65 Comments April 6, 2012

NOM’s racist tactics criticized by New York Times, Washington Times

By Scottie Thomaston

The fall out from the revelations of NOM’s race-baiting to divide gays from racial minority communities continues as more newspaper editorial boards speak out. The NJ Star-Ledger recently said of NOM that, “The NOM agenda reveals the dark corners of a movement that will do anything to impose its will.”

One of the memos that were released showed NOM’s plan to find children of gay couples to exploit by asking them to express their “concerns” on camera. The Star-Ledger says that:

It is sick beyond words that a group to “save” marriage would exploit racial and ethnic divisions, stir intolerance and fear, and even rip families apart by pitting children against parents. In their self-described “battle,” they come across as the biggest losers of all.

Last week it was revealed that Mitt Romney donated $10,000 to NOM in 2008 through an obscure Alabama PAC to help them pass Proposition 8. The donation was well-known at the time but the revelation that it was sent in through a PAC from another state and not mailed directly to NOM was news, sent to the Human Rights Campaign by a whistleblower. Yesterday, the New York Times weighed in on that news, urging the Republican presidential candidates to distance themselves from NOM and its vile tactics.

Writing that, “These are not the musings of a marginalized group,” the NYT opines:

The day after the memos became public, National Organization for Marriage’s co-founder and chairman emeritus, Robert George, was appointed by John Boehner, the Republican House speaker, to a United States commission focused on addressing religious intolerance and extremism around the globe.

Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have publicly aligned themselves with the group and signed its pledge to work aggressively from the White House against same-sex marriage.

Now that the group’s poisonous political approach is out in the open, Mr. Romney and the others should be racing to make clear their disapproval.

We detect no stampede.

In the conservative paper the Washington Times, R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, also weighs in on the controversy surrounding NOM. Cooper says Republicans can’t be associated with these divisive and cruel tactics:

Putting aside NOM’s callous disregard for LGBT families, my party, the Republican party, cannot afford to be associated with an organization that arrogantly seeks to manipulate African American and Latino voters, particularly when the Republican Party is working hard to promote our message of economic opportunity and individual liberty among these communities. Crude identity politics has no place in today’s conservative movement.

It’s one thing to see the New York Times editorialize against this; it’s quite another to see a Republican group come out against it so strongly, and in a conservative newspaper. Cooper accuses NOM of threatening and intimidating Republicans into acquiesence:

In addition to crude racial tactics, NOM has also engaged in a clear campaign of intimidation against any Republican official or candidate who dares to agree with Vice President Dick Cheney that “freedom means freedom for everyone.” From threatening billboards to promising to pour millions of dollars into local elections to punish pro-equality Republicans, NOM’s leadership has set their sights on dividing the GOP at a time when we most need to be uniting to retake the White House.

He closes out his piece by telling readers that “NOM is a cancer that needs to be removed for the good of the conservative movement[.]” At this point it is hard to see who NOM has not embarrassed. Their former chair seems willing to defend their racist strategy, but we haven’t heard from their current chair. None of their supporters seem to be coming to their defense. This has been a complete disaster for their organization.

7 Comments April 3, 2012

Mitt Romney donated $10,000 to NOM to help pass Proposition 8

By Scottie Thomaston

In 2008, Mitt Romney donated $10,000 to the National Organization for Marriage to fund their attempts to prevent gay and lesbian couples from marrying each other in California. As the article points out, this news in itself isn’t new; the donation was reported on at the time and his spokesman at the time Eric Ferhnstrom commented that, “The governor feels strongly that marriage is an institution between a man and a woman, and one of the most high-profile fights on this subject is happening in California[.]”

The Human Rights Campaign obtained the filing from a whistleblower and it shows that Romney made the donation through curious channels:

In fact, record of the payment was only uncovered Friday when the pro-gay rights Human Rights Campaign was sent a private IRS filing from NOM via a whistleblower. The Human Rights Campaign shared the filing with The Huffington Post.

Asked for comment, an aide to Romney said that the donation was made through the Alabama chapter of the Free and Strong America PAC. State records confirm this. However, the 990 NOM filed lists the donation as having come from PO Box 79226 in Belmont, Massachusetts.

Alabama is known for having lax disclosure laws on campaign finance regulations. And the Human Rights Campaign notes that Romney’s financial contributions to NOM were important to the effort to pass Proposition 8:

“It’s clear now that Romney was a major financial donor to Prop. 8,” said Fred Sainz, HRC’s vice president for communications. “But it’s also clear that his campaign very cleverly hid this contribution in an obscure Alabama PAC.”

“His spokesperson said that Romney had financially supported Prop 8 but there’s no disclosure of a contribution to any Prop. 8 effort, personal or through the national or Alabama PAC,” Sainz added. “He instead chose to give to NOM, an organization that has a history of shielding its donors. For what other purpose would you contribute $10,000 to NOM three weeks before the election other than Prop 8?”

In any case, given the recent revelations coming from unsealed court documents showing that NOM engaged in a willful attempt to provoke hostility between minority groups, important questions need to be asked and answered by likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign:

Was Mitt Romney among the privileged few high-dollar donors who got an “eyes-only” glimpse at NOM’s confidential strategy memos?

In other words, it’s worth asking: what did Mitt Romney know, and when did he know it? To be fair, Romney’s 2008 donation predates the materials that have been made public. But his relationship, and that of his Church — a major donor to NOM — continues. And it stands to reason that there were 2008 versions of this strategy memo, as well as 2010, 2011, and 2012 versions. The mind shudders to imagine what is in the ones we haven’t seen.

When Mitt Romney cut his $10,000 check for Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown’s National Organization for Marriage, did he know that his money would be used to “drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two key Democratic constituencies”? Did he know it would be going toward fanning hostility between his fellow Americans?

Since, as Wooledge points out in his piece, these documents were specifically designed for donors, has Romney gotten to see any of these documents, or has he been told of their plans? And will he distance himself from NOM’s racist tactics? There is a petition asking him to do that here.

38 Comments March 30, 2012

NOM’s long-term strategy revealed in memos: “Drive a wedge between blacks and gays”

By Scottie Thomaston

The National Organization for Marriage has been ostensibly fighting to preserve marriage between a man and a woman for years now, waging campaigns and devoting time and money to promote anti-gay initiatives and defeat ones aimed at strengthening gay relationships and affirming the humanity of gays. The Washington Post once ran a profile of NOM’S Brian Brown telling its readers that he is someone to watch, because he is a sane, likeable, nice guy and they run a “reasonable” campaign.

Brown is confident that if people hear his message, they will believe it. “People already believe it,” he says, “but the issue is so deep-seated that they’ve never had to create an argument for it. Now we have to give people the language to do that.” Create talking points. Help them see.

NOM was put on a hate group watch list when the Southern Poverty Law Center named several anti-gay organizations as hate groups, because of their rhetoric and tactics.

Now, The Human Rights Campaign has obtained a lot of documents marked “confidential” that reveal what we have known – and what the media has refused to call out – all along. Their strategy for long-term gains in the fight to keep gay relationships from being legally recognized, marked December 15, 2009 and called the “National Strategy For Winning The Marriage Battle”, is available to read.

In their quest to deny legal recognition to the long-term, loving relationships of same-sex couples, NOM goes disturbingly far off into the fringe. The most jarring and horrific document shows that they created a project called the “Not A Civil Right” Project, aimed at the heart of coalition building between the LGBT community and racial minorities:

The strategic goal…is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks—two key Democratic constituencies. Find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage; develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots…

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 more 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.”

NOM says:

Fanning the hostility raised in the wake of Prop 8 is key to raising the cost of pushing gay marriage to its advocates and persauding the movement’s allies that advocates are unacceptably overreaching on this issue. Consider pushing a marriage amendment in Washington D.C.; find attractive young black Democrats to challenge white gay marriage advocates electorally.”

Perhaps this was all just a setup. The media already gives platforms to these people. They’re already allowed to say whatever they want and largely go unquestioned. News networks have these groups on TV to talk “nicely” about how gay people are a serious threat to the country and to the family structure and to people’s children; they are often named as Christian or Family spokespeople. So since they are already getting positive attention, it’s not a surprise that the media might be willing to discuss this. It’s not that no people who are black are ever in opposition to gay rights, but it’s the specific focus on that racial minority at the expense of nuance and discussions of the role whites, and white Republicans, play in voting no and remaining opposed to human rights for LGBT people. The media is content with provoking controversy and getting page views and TV viewers and not thinking about the wider repercussions this might have on communities that are already struggling and hurting.

We are still in a place in this country where someone can get shot for walking down the street carrying Skittles because they are black. We’re still in a place where people can go to a popular movie and complain that there are black actors playing black characters in that movie.

We’re still in a place where people can be abused, kicked out of their homes, dragged into fields and beaten to death because they’re gay or transgender. We’re in a place where they can be fired from their jobs for appearing too ‘gay’ or not conforming to their perceived gender enough for employers to feel comfortable.

Both communities are still dealing with police violence and injustice in the legal system on a daily basis.

We are not privileged, as NOM’s messaging would suggest:

“Democratic power bosses are increasingly inclined to privilege the concerns of gay rights groups over the values of African Americans. A strategic goal of this project is to amplify the voice and power of the black Americans within the Democratic Party.”

We are trying to build friendships because we are all in this together and we’re all fighting for the same human rights.

In this context, you have to wonder why NOM would want to exacerbate the issues that come with these institutional problems. None of us are particularly well-off or free from even government harassment and life is enough of a struggle. Bonding between communities who can understand each other in some ways, but maybe not in all ways, is really necessary for survival in this climate, when anti-black and anti-Latino racial ‘fears’ and homophobia and transphobia are constantly used in national and state campaigns and those campaigns turn the populace against our people, our families, our friends.

And not content with ruining relationships and solidarity between two oppressed communities who are often preyed upon and targeted by white heterosexuals with institutional power in government and police forces, NOM also wants to go after Latinos and turn us against each other as well:

The Latino vote in America is a key swing vote, and will be so even more so in the future, both because of demographic growth and inherent uncertainty: Will the process of assimilation to the dominant Anglo culture lead Hispanics to abandon traditional family values? We must interrupt this process of assimilation by making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity – a symbol of resistance to inappropriate assimilation.

It’s the same here. This is no longer just about gay people and NOM trying to destroy us. NOM is showing reckless disregard for minority communities and callousness in pitting us against each other in a battle that will inevitably leave some people hurt and some people dead. They are gleefully celebrating our sad and unnecessary confrontations and completely ignoring that there is any semblance of a bigger picture to which they are contributing lasting unnecessary pain and suffering.

The effects of this have been, and will be, long-term. The damage has been done and we’re left picking up the pieces and trying to rebuild alliances and gain trust back that has been lost. I can’t possibly stress how big these documents are: in the context of the blatant racism and fear mongering campaigns and tactics that are engrained in our politics, their strategy is a direct attack on all minorities alike. This isn’t simply ‘divide and conquer’, because there’s too much at stake. Racism and homophobia are dangerous and devastating and actively trying to provoke the worst in people and roll back the progress we have all fought so hard to make is utterly sick.

61 Comments March 27, 2012

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