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04/08/2011

G-A-Y Exclusive: National Organization For Marriage tour organizer/Facebook moderator does startling about-face; Exposure to NOM could lead to unintended side effects

by Jeremy Hooper

Louis Marinelli first came on our radar late last spring, when he started independently Tweeting under the name "NOMUpdates":

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Incendiary tweets where Louis (both on "NOMUpdates" and his followup accounts) used the highly-repudiated Paul Cameron's research to say that "gays have shorter life spans." Tweets wherein Louis said he thinks all gays are single, even if they are married or in a committed relationship. Tweets claiming that Peter LaBarbera of the incredibly eye-opening (and personally-targeted) "Americans For Truth" group is merely "tell[ing] the truth about homosexuality." Tweets where Louis said marriage equality is "a mockery and a hijacking of the civil rights movement," that flat-out called gays an abomination, and that said "Deviance" describes actions or behaviours that violate cultural norms - homosexuality is far from a cultural norm. Therefore, it is deviant." Tweets that claimed "Homosexuality and gay marriage are wrong and harmful to society," and that emphatically stated "there shouldn't be any recognition of homosexual relationships because that is saying that homosexuality is OK." Tweets where Louis said "what they do is blantantly [sic] immoral. :) [smile his own], " and that compared our unions to that which might exist between a sterile brother and sister. Tweets that even resorted to blanket character assassination, saying that one should "#nevertrust activists of the homosexual agenda - they are deceitful people who care only about themselves and not what's best for society."

Now normally this all would've been an "okay, whatever" situation, constituting maybe one post but certainly no more. And we certainly thought NOM was going to be quick to repudiate Louis' rogue effort. Because it was just that over-the-top, waaaaaaay off NOM messaging.

However, a funny thing happened: At this same spring/summer 2010 time when we discovered Louis' online actions (a time when he was in some places identifying himself as a "Nom Strategist"), we also started noticing how Louis was slowly merging his own "Protect Marriage: One Man, One Woman" assets into NOM's own stable:

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Until eventually, NOM fully took on some of Louis' properties as their own. Most notably, the Facebook page that Louis started and that NOM to this day (at least to the time of this writing) claims as its official F'book home:

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NOM's official Facebook page, created by Louis Marinelli

So as Louis' efforts became more and more NOM-sanctioned, we grew ever more intrigued. Especially when it came to Louis' most visible NOM role of all: As a major component of last summer's headline-grabbing nationwide marriage tour, on which Louis drove the RV, blogged the whole thing, and provided general support for the road bound NOM. Here's Louis with the NOM RV:

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And here he is in his official NOM polo shirt, speaking to the Courage Campaign's tour trackers:


[NOM Tour Tracker]

It was abundantly clear to us that Louis was becoming a major cog in the NOM wheel. In fact, the 2010 summer tour always seemed at least partially designed by Louis, considering how we first learned of the idea not from NOM, but rather from Louis himself, who tweeted the following months before NOM ever announced any sort of official endeavor:

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As you can see, the above tweets were written on March 16, 2010. NOM didn't officially announce the tour until June 28.

Okay, but why are we rehashing all of this now, almost a year later? Well. Uhm. Because. Ya See. It turns out. The thing is....

LOUIS MARINELLI NOW SUPPORTS

OUR CIVIL MARRIAGE EQUALITY!

Yes, you read that correctly. While still not in full support of homosexuality on some levels (where he needs our help to correct misinformation), Louis is now [a] repudiating virtually all of the vitriol that he put on the public record; [b] is owning up to the major role that he's played with NOM, including admitting that he was the impetus behind the whole summer tour; and [c] is coming out in full support of the civil marriage rights that gay people are seeking. And even more important that that: He, the man who gave NOM its official "protect marriage" Facebook page and who has been working as an independent contractor with the org. ever since (and still is, reporting directly to Brian Brown, at least up until the moment this post goes live), quite literally credits exposure to the NOM tour as the very thing that led to his change of heart!!!!!

NOM'S TOUR MASTERMIND,

FACEBOOK FOUNDER,

AND ONLINE STRATEGIST,

LOUIS MARINELLI, NOW SUPPORTS

OUR CIVIL MARRIAGE EQUALITY!

THE MUCH-BALLYHOOED SUMMER

MARRIAGE TOUR 2010

OPENED HIS EYES!


So now, without further ado: Here is Louis J. Marinelli, in his own, unedited words:

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(*
Interview conducted via email)

(1) G-A-Y's JEREMY HOOPER: On record, I'd ask you to go through the list of comments you have written/ Tweeted/ blogged/ Facebooked and repudiate any/all that you now see were objectionable.

LOUIS MARINELLI: I quoted from the research of Paul Cameron when I said that homosexuals have a shorter life-span. I must say that when I quoted this man I was not aware of his history and here and now do not wish to comment on the legitimacy or irrelevance of the man’s work as I am neither a psychologist nor does psychology interest me.

What I said, referring to the life-spans of homosexuals, I continue to believe in the following context: Any group of people that contract any viral disease more than the general public due to the nature of their lifestyle, logically, will have a life-expectancy lower than that of the general populace.


However, that kind of rhetoric, implying that gay men are unworthy of civil marriage due to any particular health issues surrounding their sexual activity was both inappropriate and offensive. It is for those reasons, that I retract this statement.


___________________________________________________________

I once wrote or implied that all homosexuals are single, even if they had at some point or another, been legally married by the state. While in the eyes of the Catholic faith, these same-sex unions aren’t recognized as marriages insofar as holy matrimony is concerned, I retract this statement now that I have been able to see and distinguish and understand the differences between religious and civil marriage.

______________________________________________________________

Any support or endorsement of what Peter LaBarbera does I retract. I have been reading via Twitter and his website what this guy has to say, and it is clear that he is just a hateful man and I would be embarrassed and ashamed to be associated with him.

Furthermore, the issues Peter takes on, even if they were true, are not in themselves valid reasons for denying same-sex couples access to civil marriage. I am aware how he was upset by my public support for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in December. His reasoning for such seemed to be something along the lines of “in order to protect marriage, you have to oppose everything homosexuals do”. If that were the case, Peter, how far should we go in restricting homosexuals’ lives?

_____________________________________________________________

As far as my comments about the hijacking of the civil rights movement, I would say that while the offenses the gay community endure from the public are similar, the issue as it pertains to the government are totally different.

The gay community is not forced to attend different schools, drink from different water fountains, or give up their seats for heterosexuals on the bus. They are not, as black Americans are to this day, incarcerated at higher levels than heterosexuals and while I do not deny that there is violence directed towards gays and lesbians because of their sexual orientation, no one should be comparing that to the organized violence faced by the black community prior to the civil rights movement itself.

That said, I agree that what the gay community are fighting for are their civil rights. So in that way, it is indeed a civil rights movement but not the civil rights movement. That is to say, a new civil rights movement, not an extension or continuation of the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

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Any comments I made that attacked homosexuals on a personal level, I retract. This includes calling them an abomination. I personally do not agree with homosexuality and without any shame will continue to uphold my belief that homosexuality itself presents a public health concern due to the sexual diseases that are associated with it and that spread rapidly as a result of it.

I think a lot of work needs to be done for homosexuals and heterosexuals alike, to change the culture of promiscuity in our country and we would be doing ourselves a favor to focus our energies on that instead of singling out and lying the blame on one of the many guilty parties.


However, until the day comes that homosexual sex does not continue to spread HIV at alarming rates as it does today, I must stand by my comments that, from a public health stance, homosexuality is a harmful to society.

Having said that, the health issues facing promiscuous homosexual men is irrelevant to the issue of same-sex marriage. I was guilty of and apologize for this insensitive and inappropriate rhetoric.

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On multiple occasions I have said something to the effect of “homosexuality is wrong”. And in my opinion it is. My transition from an opponent of same-sex marriage to a supporter does not mean I suddenly think homosexuality is a good thing.

I personally disagree with it. The same way I disagree with many other things other people do with their lives. That doesn’t give me or anyone else the right to prevent homosexuals from being homosexuals or to take away their constitutionally protected civil rights as American citizens.


_____________________________________________________________


As a supporter of civil marriage equality, any statements I’ve made in the past about not recognizing homosexual relationships for one reason or another, of course it goes without saying that I no longer stand by these comments and I apologize for the insensitivity. Same-sex couples, whether they are married, in civil unions or domestic partnerships, ought to be recognized for what they are.


_____________________________________________________________

I consider myself agnostic and while homosexual acts may very well be “immoral” in the eyes of Christian morality, I can no longer stand by any comments I’ve made in the past about the immorality of homosexuality. There are a variety of different sets and sources of morals and no one has the right to impose their set on the rest of society.

_______________________________________________________________


Once I wrote that homosexuals are deceitful people who care only about themselves or something to that effect. Honestly, aren’t we all? It was wrong for me to exclude everyone else from that description. We all lie and when it comes down to it, we will do what is best for ourselves. So throwing in a little levity, I stand by the comment but want to apologize for limiting its scope to the gay community.

_______________________________________________________________

My 3P’s video from YouTube was wrong. It may be true that at some point in time that the legalization of prostitution, the lowering of the age of consent and the legalization of polygamy may have been a part of the platform endorsed by homosexual activists in Chicago in the 1970s. However, there is no indication that any mainstream LGBT activist groups or organizations today advocate for these issues.

What’s further, from a technical standpoint alone the video was inaccurate. The platform called for the reduction of the age of consent, not the legalization of pedophilia, which is the sexual interest in pre-pubescent children. The reduction of the age of consent was about that and instead, to my knowledge, involved a reduction that would involve post-pubescent teenagers, which would not be pedophilia.

I think this kind of rhetoric is harmful to our homosexual neighbors and I retract the statements. The entire YouTube account I used for this video, as well as others, was deleted sometime in late January, when I began to accept the fact that what I was doing was wrong.

**EDITOR"S NOTE: This is the video in question:

____________________________________________________________

When it comes to the issue of my statements about homosexuality being a mental disorder, I have one thing to say. And that is that I apologize for the insensitivity and accept the fact that this has nothing to do with civil marriage. So what if it’s a mental disorder? It wouldn’t and shouldn’t disqualify gay men and women from civil marriage.


(2) G-A-Y: I wonder what has led to your change of heart. Was it, as I suspect, your experience on the NOM tour? Seeing the actual human beings hurt by NOM's work? In light of news of the MD state lawmaker who recently said that testimony from folks like Maggie Gallagher actually changed his mind *towards* marriage equality, I find this point most compelling.

MARINELLI: Having spent the last five years putting all of my political will, interest and energy into fighting against the spread of same-sex marriage as if it were a contagious disease, I must admit that it is hard for me to put the following text into words let alone utter them with my own voice.

Whether it is an issue of disbelief, shame or embarrassment, the one thing that is for sure is that I have come to this point after several months of an internal conflict with myself. That conflict gradually tore away at me until recently when I was able to, for the first time simply admit to myself that I do in fact support civil marriage equality for all.

While I have come to terms with this reality internally, speaking about it, even with the closest members of my family, has proven to be something difficult for me to do.

In short, if there is an issue of disbelief surrounding my newfound support for civil marriage equality, it is disbelief from those who surround me. If there is an issue of shame, it is a result of acknowledging the number of people I have targeted, hurt and oppressed. And if there is an issue of embarrassment, its roots lie in the face-to-face encounters I have had and expect to have with those with whom I once toiled over this very contentious issue.

I understand that those whom I approach now are well within their right to disbelieve and question me and my motives. I accept that that is the result of what I have done over the past few years and would therefore like to take this time to, as openly as I can, discuss the events that brought about my change of heart.

As you may already know, I was the one behind the 2010 Summer for Marriage Tour which the National Organization for Marriage sponsored and operated throughout July and August last year. It was my doing when, in March that year, I approached Brian Brown about sponsoring and participating in a series of traditional marriage rallies scattered around the Nation.

In fact, the tour route itself, while chosen largely by NOM itself, incorporated as many of the sites I had originally chosen and helped independently organize. Other locations were added due to strategic, political or simply logistical purposes.

6A00D8341C503453Ef0133F21E5Fa6970B-2Ironically, one of the last tour stops added to the itinerary was Atlanta and I bring this site up because it was in Atlanta that I can remember that I questioned what I was doing for the first time. The NOM showing in the heart of the Bible-belt was dismal and the hundreds of counter-protesters who showed up were nothing short of inspiring.

Even though I had been confronted by the counter-protesters throughout the marriage tour, the lesbian and gay people whom I made a profession out of opposing became real people for me almost instantly. For the first time I had empathy for them and remember asking myself what I was doing.

If my transition from opponent to supporter of same-sex civil marriage was a timeline, Atlanta would be indicated by the first point on the line. The next point on that timeline would be two months later.

After the marriage tour wrapped up and everyone went their separate ways, I transformed my marriage tour “Inside Look” blog to a more general blog about protecting marriage and opposing the homosexual agenda. Over the course of September and October I occupied my time writing up articles along these very lines. Some of the articles were fair, even if you disagree with them, but many of them I would now categorize as propaganda filled with strong and unnecessary rhetoric. This is especially true of the YouTube videos I made.

One article I wrote, towards the end of October, 2010 caught the attention of a blogger by the name of RJ, who writes on the blog AmIWorking (
ed. note: That's blog's now rebranded as Fighting For Cake). He responded to my article about the homosexual agenda with an article addressed to personally to me regarding marriage equality (ed. note: That article reposted here). In short, his article had the miraculous effect of instantly putting things into prospective for me.

At that point, between what I had witnessed on the marriage tour and RJ’s post about marriage equality, I really came to understand that gays and lesbians were just real people who wanted to live real lives and be treated equally as opposed to, for example, wanting to destroy American culture. No, they didn’t want to destroy American culture, they wanted to openly participate in it. I was well on my way to becoming a supporter of civil marriage equality.

As a result of that I closed down my blog within a couple days. That gave birth to my current endeavor, The Conservative Dispatch, which is how I occupy my time. The site is about promoting general conservative principles and is not focused solely on social issues.

In December I came out in support of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I also removed the admins I had delegated my moderating duties to for my Facebook page.

Having done that, I had to pick up where they left off. I was largely taken aback by the fact that the page I created had become such a hateful place. My comments are rhetoric paled in comparison to what that place had turned into. I began to understand why the gay community was out there claiming opposition to same-sex civil marriage was all about hate.

I soon realized that there I was surrounded by hateful people; propping up a cause I created five years ago, a cause which I had begun starting to question. This would be timeline point number three. I wanted to extend an olive branch in some way and started to reinstate those who had been banned by previous administrators of my page. I welcomed them to participate on the page and did what I could do erase the worst comments and even ban those who posted them.

Also, I started regularly conversing with same-sex marriage supporters in another Facebook group. This further solidified my new perception of gays and lesbians as real people, not some faceless political opponent. That could be considered the next point on the timeline.

Lastly, I came to understand the difference between civil marriage and holy marriage as in the sacrament of the Catholic Church. Let me rephrase. I understood that but either willingly chose not to accept it or just didn’t see it. Regardless, I see it now and the significance of that is as follows:

Once you understand the great difference between civil marriage and holy marriage, there is not one valid reason to forbid the former from same-sex couples, and all that is left to protect is the latter.

Indeed Christians and Catholics alike are well within their right to demand that holy matrimony, a sacrament and service performed by the Church, recognized by the Church, remains between a man and a woman as their faith would dictate. However, that has nothing to do with civil marriage, performed and recognized by the State in accordance with state law.


(3) G-A-Y: What value do you still see in NOM's work? And of course: What negatives?

MARINELLI: The value I see in NOM’s work, even to this day, is the value of the work they do to promote marriage in general. We as a culture and a people have a bad record on marriage as a whole, particularly when it comes to divorce. This is something we need to work on and I think NOM could play a critical role in doing this, especially with the work they do via the Ruth Institute.

Granted their work is based on their Catholic faith, but they are not the only non-profit organization out there that is Catholic in nature. They should instead focus their energies on improving and protecting the sanctity of the holy marriages performed by the Church. That would go a long way, since a great number of marriages in the US are in fact performed by the Church, towards improving that tarnished track record.


NOM is well within their right to want to preserve the religious sacrament of matrimony as the union of a man and a woman and I continue to support them in that regard, although I am not a Catholic myself. However, when it comes to the civil marriage ceremony, which has nothing to do with the religious sacrament, we should all be standing together for equal protections guaranteed by the Constitution.


The negative thing about NOM’s work is that it diverts our attention from what is important to preventing a group of people from obtaining civil marriage licenses. We have to stop seeing things in black and white all the time and that is, I’m afraid, what NOM does in terms of marriage. The world isn’t black and white, it’s yellow, it’s green, it’s purple, it’s red, orange, it’s blue. It is, in fact, all of the colors of the rainbow and that’s what makes up our world and that’s why the rainbow flag represents not only the gay rights movement but the diversity the gay community brings to this world.

*** *** ***

So what does this mean for NOM? For Louis? For those of us who also value civil equality (i.e. resist NOM)?

Well, there will surely be more to come. For now, chew on the considerable development we have here before us.

***

*NOTE: Special thanks to great G-A-Y pal and NOM watcher Bob Barnes, without whom this post would not have been possible. Also to HRC's NOM Exposed effort for continuing to draw attention to the organization.

***

*UPDATE: And now Louis issues his own statement: I now support full marriage equality [Louis Marinelli]

***

*HRC's release:

Top Official at National Organization for Marriage Defects, Supports Civil Marriage Equality
Onetime virulently anti-gay Louis Marinelli switches course on LGBT issues


WASHINGTON- Louis Marinelli, a key strategist in developing the grassroots and online messaging strategy of the National Organization for Marriage, has undergone what he calls a “transition” from being an ardent opponent of the LGBT community and marriage equality specifically to supporting civil marriage between LGBT couples. Jeremy Hooper of Good As You (www.goodasyou.org) broke this story earlier today. Read his full report here.

Marinelli tells Hooper, “The lesbian and gay people whom I made a profession out of opposing became real people for me almost instantly. For the first time I had empathy for them and remember asking myself what I was doing.”

“This defection is a good example of what is and will continue to be consistent in the fight for equality,” said Kevin Nix, NOM Project Director for the Human Rights Campaign. “Once people actually meet LGBT people, they are more likely to support equality.”

Marinelli did harm to the LGBT community. He was the strategist behind NOM’s multi-state 2010 Summer Bus Tour and a key digital strategist for the organization, writing things like, “Those who wish to promote homosexual behavior are encouraging people to shorten their life spans.”

“Even NOM’s own people are having trouble with the organization’s unusual mission: to stop committed gay and lesbian couples from getting married,” Nix added. “We know such defections among more Americans, including NOM’s most strident supporters will continue over time.”

Despite its public portrayal of “tolerance”-- and despite dubious claims by Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown that they have “gay friends and family”-- NOM is an extremist organization that opposes not only marriage equality but civil unions. Help us continue uncovering NOM’s questionable ethics, shady financial connections, and discriminatory rhetoric at NOMExposed.org.

###

**UPDATE: NOM is moving their Facebook site: NOM Damage control: Phase 1 [G-A-Y]

**UPDATE: Michelangelo Signorile interviews Louis: Audio: Marinelli, Signorile discuss more than phonetic similarities [G-A-Y]

**UPDATE: NOM, in damage mode, misreps/reduces Louis Marinelli's role [G-A-Y]

**UPDATE: Of course NOM's misrepping Louis' role. It's the one constant of the Brown/Marinelli marriage [G-A-Y]

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