Exposing the National Organization for Marriage

by Sue O’Connell

Bay Windows

Wednesday April 4, 2012

On Monday night, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) publicized a series of documents marked "confidential" that outlined the National Organization for Marriage's (NOM) plan to stop marriage equality. The plan details a multi-year attack including this shocking passage:

Pit Gays Against Blacks & Latinos

(1) Make opposition to gay marriage a key identity badge for African- Americans and Latinos.

(2) Interrupt the equation of gay with black.

(3) Get blacks to object to calling gay marriage a civil right.

(4) Provoke gays to denounce blacks as bigots.

(5) Find attractive, young, black Democrats to oppose white, gay marriage advocates.

(6) Get politicians to shun them both.

The documents were made public by a federal court as part of a continuing investigation by the state of Maine. NOM's "Strategy for Victory" is a $20 million campaign to racially divide Americans in an effort to block marriage rights.

NOM has been accused of money laundering in its effort to ban same-sex marriage in Maine. A complaint was filed by Republican presidential candidate Fred Karger before the the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices in October of 2009. NOM contributed $1.9 million to the Yes on Amendment 1 campaign to repeal marriage equality on the November 2009 ballot.

One of the documents from NOM Deposition Exhibit 25: National Organization for Marriage Board Update 2008-2009 includes the following:

-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...

-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.

HRC President Joe Solmonese said "Such brutal honesty is a game changer, and this time NOM can't spin and twist its way out of creating an imagined rift between LGBT people and African Americans or Hispanics."

New England states play a key role in NOM's plans, including "2010 Priority: Roll Back Gay Marriage in New Hampshire, Iowa, and D.C." and "keeping gay marriage controversial in Massachusetts, Vermont, and Connecticut."

In a statement, Fred Karger said "I have been tracking the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) for the past four years trying to find out all that they are secretly doing to fight marriage equality throughout the United States. Thanks to the hard work and extreme dedication of the Maine Ethics Commission and State Attorney General's office, we are able to get a glimpse into NOM's evil ways. NOM's contempt for the law and manipulation of the truth appears to show intent to violate state and possibly federal election laws. I have long and loudly called for a Congressional or U.S. Senate investigation of the National Organization for Marriage. Now it is absolutely necessary."

MassEquality's Kara Suffredini said "It has been obvious for years that one of the key strategies employed by opponents of marriage equality is to weaken Americans' collective fairness by pitting parents against children, neighbors against neighbors, and minority groups against minority groups. The good news is, it's not working. Seven national polls show that a majority of Americans now support marriage equality. This includes strong growth in support among African-Americans (from 32% to 50%) and among Hispanic voters by nearly 2 to 1, two communities specifically targeted in NOM's secret strategy memos."

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry issued the following statement:

"NOM's secret memos describe its intention to 'interrupt [Latinos'] process of assimilation' by 'making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity' and 'seek to identify glamorous young Latino and Latina leaders' to reject equal protection for their own family members who are gay. And all of this to be done, fueled by NOM's shadowy secret funders, in the name of religion -- in flagrant contempt of the Golden Rule of treating others as you would want to be treated. Despicable."

Dr. Julian Bond, Chairman Emeritus of the NAACP, released this statement through HRC.

"NOM's underhanded attempts to divide will not succeed if Black Americans remember their own history of discrimination," said Dr. Bond. "Pitting bigotry's victims against other victims is reprehensible; the defenders of justice must stand together."

On Tuesday, Mainers United for Marriage was formed with the goal to make Maine the first state to win the freedom to marry through a ballot measure, which will be voted on this November.

"Freedom to Marry is proud to be a leader in Mainers United for Marriage," said Marc Solomon, "the campaign to secure the freedom to marry for all of Maine's loving and committed couples. This campaign has been more than two years in the making, as volunteers and organizers have been making the case to Maine voters about why marriage matters to gay and lesbian couples, in the process growing public support to a solid majority of 54 percent. Under the banner of Mainers United for Marriage, families and organizations, volunteers and our own staff will now ramp up and use every resource we can muster to explain to Maine voters about why now is the time to end the exclusion of loving, committed same-sex couples and their families from the protections and support that only marriage provides. "

Maine advocates collected more than 100,000 signatures and submitted them to the Secretary of State in January in order to get the measure on the ballot.

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