The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has embarked on a 23 stop* Summer For Marriage bus tour, taking its traditional marriage, anti-gay message on the road to spread the word of what a big, bad threat gay marriage is to society. Unfortunately, society seems to be less than enthused given that supporters at these rallies have been, well, fairly thin on the ground, with gay rights advocates outnumbering NOM supporters 3-1 or more. But could this be just what NOM wants? Conspiracy theorists, here’s one for you.
NOM’s Battle Against Same-Sex Marriage
The “traditional marriage” group supports opposite-sex only marriage and vociferously opposes all forms of recognition for same-sex partners, claiming that recognizing gay marriage or partnerships diminishes the status of heterosexual marriage and threatens the foundation of American society. That’s no to marriage, no to civil unions and no to domestic partnerships.
NOM has been heavily involved with putting gay marriage on the ballot in California and Maine and also opposed, among others, Washington’s domestic partnerships law.
HRC Suggests Tour a Sham to Help Political Cover-Up
The Summer for Marriage tour has been perceived as going so badly for NOM that some have started to suspect that there may even be an ulterior motive behind it.
Fred Sainz, the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) vice president of communications, alleges in an article on the HRC’s website that NOM is actually using the tour to draw out gay rights protesters, hoping therein to use confrontations that may or may not have occurred at the events so that they can add to their alleged nationwide plan to evade public disclosure laws and keep hidden their political activities.
“The bus tour is a total sham, plain and simple,” said Fred Sainz, HRC’s vice president of communications. “NOM’s highly-touted bus tour is less about so-called ‘traditional marriage’ and more about creating an elaborate and cynical stunt. NOM rolled out a summer of nationwide events in order to draw lawful protesters, all so that NOM and its allies can pepper ongoing lawsuits challenging public disclosure laws with made-up stories of harassment. This unprecedented victimization crusade is the lowest denominator of political activism, and it won’t fly.”
In events in seven states, NOM has routinely played to crowds reportedly as small as two dozen people including NOM staff members. The organization’s public statements on the bus tour have barely mentioned the content of the programs or the substance of its anti-LGBT message, instead focusing attention on much larger counter-protests that NOM has attacked as intimidation and harassment. NOM issued a press release last Friday saying that LGBT supporters have “approached and threatened children,” engaged in “bullying tactics” and committed acts of harassment. However, NOM’s uncorroborated claims belie legitimate local media reports demonstrating that pro-equality supporters, which have vastly outnumbered NOM’s faithful, have been civil. NOM has yet to document any illegal activity or actual harassment, despite the presence of law enforcement at all the events.
NOM’s efforts to trump up false claims of harassment are part of a radical nationwide plan to evade long-established public disclosure laws and to hide their political activities from legitimate scrutiny and accountability. In doing so, NOM has falsely alleged that their donors have been harassed and intimidated across the country to justify why it shouldn’t have to play by the same rules as everyone else. These tactics have prompted a state ethics investigation in Maine and recent court defeats across the country…
Sainz concludes: “The bread crumbs of their deceit are clear. Let’s add it all up: NOM and its allies are making a last-ditch legal stand in Washington and Maine that they should be specially entitled to hide their political activities, and they’re saying that harassment and intimidation should provide them this cover. At the same time, Brian Brown schedules a series of virtually unattended weekday afternoon events hoping for counter-protests that they can then use as evidence of harassment and intimidation. Why else would NOM execute such half-hearted non-events and then completely subjugate its so-called ‘pro-marriage’ message in favor of devoting its energies almost exclusively to condemning lawful protesters?”
NOM Feels Victimized by Gay Rights Advocates
In an effort to flip the script on gay marriage advocates, NOM’s President Brian Brown labeled NOM’s battle to keep “traditional” marriage as a civil rights fight while condemning gay rights advocates for allegedly trying to silence them in Annapolis:
“What if Martin Luther King Jr. would have listened to those who tried to silence and tell him that his faith has no place in the public square – that he should be silent?” Brown said. “You are a part of a new civil rights group – a civil rights group dedicated to protecting the most fundamental and basic institution known to mankind: marriage.”
While others at the event drew on the similar themes:
Bishop John M. Smith of the Catholic Diocese of Trenton held a similar sentiment: “Standing for the truth of marriage does not deny the rights or equal dignity of human persons; rather it stands for the rights of husbands and wives.”
Maggie Gallagher (pictured), NOM’s former leader, also returned last week, perhaps to bolster the flagging tour while Brian Brown took a three stop break. From On Top Magazine:
“We live in an upside down world,” Gallagher said. “We live in a world where people tell us good is bad and bad is good … [But] truth and love will triumph over lies and hatred.”
At Friday’s Columbus rally, Gallagher expressed a similar sentiment: “I have a message for our good friends who don’t agree with us – a few of them are gathered out there on the other side – hate is not a family value.”
Couldn’t agree more Maggie. As mentioned above, NOM has unfortunately so far failed to turn up any evidence of actual harm at the hands of the rainbow umbrella and balloon wielding protesters.
The bus tour is expected to end with a rally in Washington D.C. on Sunday, August 15.
As always, NOM has been quick to get some distance from certain vitriolic messages that have appeared among its crowds, an example of which was a sign that appeared to call for gay people to be hanged as the “solution to gay marriage”, maintaining that the organization does not condone nor support calls to violence against gay people. However, NOM seems either incapable or unwilling to recognize that when you label a section of society as a threat to modern civilization, it does tend to stir up ill-feeling on both sides, but I digress.
Rather than mounting serious counter protests, it seems the prevailing mindset among gay rights advocates has now turned to giving a show of numbers in the form of a peaceful counter protest or ignoring the tour to let it fizzle out on its own, depriving NOM of the provocative scenes it seeks.
As to my personal view on this, I’m not really convinced. I do worry we might be giving NOM too much credit, or worse, giving them ideas. But what are your thoughts?
*This post erroneously stated that NOM’s Summer for Marriage event was a 23 state tour. This was an error as it is in fact a 19 state tour with 23 stops. The post has now been corrected. Thanks.
Read more: california, civil rights, domestic partnerships, gay marriage, gay rights, human rights campaign, lgbt rights, maine gay marriage, marriage equality, marriage tour, national organization for marriage, nom, proposition 8, same-sex marriage
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