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09/17/2011

Days and Slights: This Week in NOM (Sep. 11 - Sep. 17)

by Jeremy Hooper

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Dear NOM Watcher,

In an alphabetical rundown of our list of American states, New York and North Carolina live peacefully side-by-side. This week, the National Organization for Marriage was determined to link the two in far more aggressive ways.


N-Y-9…

In the special election for former Congressman Anthony Weiner's seat, NOM embarked on its largest-ever expenditure campaign, ultimately giving $33,590.81 to actively oppose Democrat David Weprin and an additional $19,017.91 to support Republican Bob Turner. The reason was obvious: Weprin, as a NY state Assemblyman, voted for marriage equality, and NOM, desperate for some traction in a state where the majority supports basic fairness, wanted some sort of psychological win. So they looked at this race, considered the makeup of the district, watched the polling on matters like the economy and Israel (and the general sour taste in the mouths of some locals post-Weiner-debacle), and determined that this was one they could latch onto. In terms of bets, this was a safer one than others they might've considered. Plus since NOM seems to have some sort of limitless cash pipeline independent of a donor base, what the heck do they care if they lose another congressional race in which they've engaged (they've lost several before, including two recent ones in NY)?

The goal was never really to elect Turner, per se, especially considering (a) Turner is really not that big of a "protect marriage" guy and (b) the seat might be redistricted away anyway. The one, decided goal was to "send a message" both to New Yorkers and other elected representatives who've voted for same-sex marriage. The message to New Yorkers: "We're coming for same-sex couples' marital rights and you should join us." The message to the electeds: "We will say and do anything to get you out of office, even if it means cruelly attacking your character and religious beliefs."

And speaking of attacks: I was literally jaw-dropped this week listening to the man who NOM recruited to record anti-Weprin robocalls. The more I dug on Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein, the more that fell out. I found multiple clips of the robocalling rabbi blaming gays for causing earthquakes. There was also one of him saying homosexuality caused Hurricane Irene and the deaths that resulted from it. Then there was the one where he told his supporters that the LGBT movement is "a dying movement, not a living movement," and that people in same-sex marriages need to "make sure [they] have a good life insurance policy." Though the worst was a nearly hour-long lecture he delivered titled "Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" (oh how they love that line), in which Wallerstein said gays had declared war on God, said AIDS was punishment for homosexuality, again repeated his claims about gays causing natural disasters, and declared that God would destroy a pro-LGBT world because homosexuality is the "one thing God doesn't have patience with."

THIS IS THE GUY WHO NOM USED TO "SEND A MESSAGE"!?!?!?!! Oy to the vey!

But of course for NOM, the ends always justify the means, no matter how mean. It's all about how many press hits they can get, how many people they can dupe into believing that there's even a chance of rolling back NY marriages, and how much money they can raise off of the idea that they single-handedly dashed a Democrat's congressional dreams by making his race all about one "social issue." You will never hear Brian or Maggie acknowledge the undeniably incendiary comments of a NOM partner like Rabbi Wallerstein or to take any responsibility for the potential fallout that can and does result from their indefatigable attempts to divide various state's communities along race, religion, or ethnic lines. As long as they still get invited to the big conservative bashes and still get to keep the lights on by keeping certain people's wedding rings off, then all is right in the House of NOM.

We NOM Watchers have to demand more accountability. We have to insist that the press outlets who buy into their "we defeat Weprin" press releases look a little more closely at the methods and figures NOM uses to reach their Pyrrhic victories. We have to stop this outrageous group from dividing this troubled nation, state by state, pitting every "us" against every "them" while they sit back and hide behind Catholic financing and self-affixed "values voter" labels. The only way this will happen is if more people speak up, Tweet out, Facebook forward, and push.back!


…I'm going to Carolina

And now for NC. The Tar Heel state. The site of the 2012 Democratic convention. Now too: The site of a 2012 "Let's subject minority rights to the whims of a majority" experiment.

Yes, my darlings, North Carolina has now joined Minnesota, making it the second state that we know for certain will face a marriage amendment fight in the coming year. And of course there's already a NOM factor. According to Brian Brown, NOM played a role in the run-up to the legislature's misguided vote, with the president claiming his organization "reached out to 100,000 voters to make sure they let their representatives know: the people want the right to vote!"

Operative word there: "want." As in some people (not "the people") may "want" to go to the polls to alter a governing document so that it becomes a weapon that deprives certain tax-paying citizens of rights they deserve. However, "want" doesn't make it okay. Or legally-sound. Or non-discriminatory.

Despite NOM's best efforts to tell America otherwise, "the right to vote" is not a limitless notion that extends to any and everything that a majority may want. This has been proven to us time and time again throughout history, with rights less popular than same-sex marriage is today protected from majority tyranny. But rather than learn the lessons of history, groups like NOM want to deny gays their own place within the civil rights (little "c", little "r") pantheon. Rather than educate the public about why we don't hold willy-nilly referenda that boil every last concept down to a 50%+1 approval margin, NOM instead turns gays and their equality allies into the mean, tyrannical demons who, via their own education efforts, are somehow robbing society of something "the people" deserve.

I don't know about you, but I am fed up -- FED UP! -- with these anti-intellectual, anti-civic assaults on our country and its richness. I am more than convinced that if every last one of the equality community's potential allies in just about any one of our fifty states were to stand up and become engaged or else suffer negative repercussions, then equality would win out every time. But that's not happening. Our movement suffers from complacency, unable to rally itself against the other side's hyper motivation. We must find a way to change this! It's no longer enough for straight allies to watch "Modern Family" and fret about what to wear to a friend's gay wedding. It's all hands on deck time! In North Carolina. In Minnesota. Everywhere!


Until next week,

-Jeremy

Jeremy Hooper

Good As You/ NOM Exposed

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