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10/29/2011

Days and Slights: This Week in NOM (Oct. 23 - Oct. 29)

by Jeremy Hooper

6A00D8341C503453Ef0154349F168B970C-21

Dear NOM Watcher,

Let's start with the obvious. This week, there was one NOM story that vaulted above all other, going viral in ways that the more obscure NOM stories can't always do. I'm of course talking about: That random post I did on NOM's rhetorical use of the phrase "San Francisco values." That one caught on like proverbial wildfire, didn't it?

Just kidding. I'm actually referring to NOM's unethical, arrogant, and, frankly, bizarre attempt to insert three-year-old 6A00D8341C503453Ef0162Fbe884C1970Dshots from one of then-candidate Barack Obama's legendary campaign rallies into collages of their own organizational efforts, in hopes that people who visit NOM's so-called "New Hampshire for Marriage" site would think they, as an organization, have an ability to drive "Yes we can!"-sized crowds. After I uncovered those duplicitous photos in a series of posts on Monday and Tuesday, the Internet went wild with that unique combination of uproarious laughter and appalled jaw-drops that we who follow this sort of thing know so well.

But actually, it wasn't only the internet. MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, in her own series of reports, noted NOM's "Did they really think they'd get away with this?!"-style overreach. Then on Thursday, the Human Rights Campaign (the parent organization of this NOM Exposed project) issued an open letter to NOM's Brian Brown, Screen Shot 2011-10-28 At 4.32.07 Pmin which HRC President Joe Solmonese called on the organization to "fess up" about "how far [NOM] will go to make people believe [NOM's] pursuit – the denial of equal treatment under the law -- is supported by New Hampshire voters and Americans in general."  These transcendent notices (and others) surely brought NOM's typically deceptive work to whole new audiences.  Yay for that!

That this one incident was able to connect with eyeballs (and in the process, connect so many dots about NOM and the habits of which we NOM Watchers are so accustomed) is a great testament to this work that you and I do in the name of equality!


So how did NOM respond to the attention, you ask?

In true NOM fashion, there has, to this point, been no apology for wrongdoing or even public acknowledgement of the obviously unethical practice. Instead, NOM staffers quietly changed the two offending images without comment. Only thing? In doing so, NOM actually upped the laughable failure even further, by posting replacement images that also had nothing to do with New Hampshire, the state they are purporting to represent. One of the shots comes from the New York marriage rally they held on the very day same-sex couples began marrying in the state, with NOM's new image showing the largely bussed-in crowds that marched against other's joy on that day. The other replacement shot was of a rally NOM held in St. Paul, Minnesota, which, last time I checked, is actually not part of the Granite State. Weird, because right alongside the offending images is the text, "NH for Marriage is a coalition of Granite State citizens committed to defending traditional marriage in New Hampshire." One would think with pictures being as 1,000-words-loaded as they are, an organization purporting to speak on behalf of a certain state would see a need to show actual residents from there.

Then again, one would also think a group of American citizens who lead with their supposedly heightened values would see a need to treat their tax-paying neighbors equally. But I digress.


Okay seriously, back to that "San Francisco values" thing…

While no, my post on the subject didn't get the same sort of attention, I do think it's important to note NOM's latest campaign in support of the discriminatory Screen Shot 2011-10-28 At 4.33.00 PmDefense of Marriage Act and against pro-equality Senators' efforts to repeal it. NOM has taken to using the phrase "San Francisco values" whenever referring to the DOMA repeal effort, an attempted knock at both chief proponent Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and the moral character of a famously accepting American city. (*image at left comes from NOM's "Defend DOMA" site)

I called the use of the phrase "telling," because I believe it's one of those things that might say so little, but at the same time speak volumes about the organization who pushes it. Because just think about it: We all know that NOM is willing to say or do just about anything, against just about anyone, so long as the end justifies (in their eyes) the means. This trite "San Francisco values" thing exemplifies this willingness. Here we have a rich and vibrant city with so much charm, character, and contribution, and an out-of-state group like NOM, in the cockiest of nature, wants to isolate values that it sees as nasty (i.e. the acceptance of same-sex couples' civil rights) and pit those should-be no-brainer qualities against "real America"? That should outrage not only the residents of San Francisco, but anyone who is tired of the divisive games so common to the far-right "culture war" (a "war" that is itself a divisive label crafted by the far-right for divisive purposes).


Golding for Cindy

This week, NOM also upped its expenditures in the Iowa special election for 6A00D8341C503453Ef0154349F168B970C-21a state Senate Seat (District 18). NOM's total in favor of Republican Cindy Golding is now approaching $30K -- a sizable (and likely growing) sum for a single state race!

We'll keep watching this race, as it is crucial to NOM's plan of rolling back the benign, peaceful, wholly nontroversial marriages that have been bettering Iowa for over 2.5 years now. If Golding prevails, she has promised to put marriage before the whims of a public vote. Democrat Liz Mathis, on the other hand, is against such a popularity contest. Voters will have to decide between getting behind discrimination or getting beyond distraction


Back to New Hampshire for a sec...

NOM touted a "victory" this week in the Granite State. The NH House Judiciary Committee approved a measure that would take away the currently-legal right to marry in the state (a right that is just as benign, peaceful, and nontroversial as in Iowa) and regress it back to an even lesser form of civil unions than the state had before. The effort is, in a word: Cruel.

But don't be fooled by even that step, as mean-spirited as it may be.  All involved admit that even if they succeed with this, they will then move on to repealing rights in full, civil unions included, via a theoretical marriage amendment.  The goal is zero recognition, in the ironically nicknamed "Live Free or Die State."

These newest efforts -- be they in New Hampshire, Iowa, New York, or any other equality state -- are a whole new level of injustice. Yes, attempting to ban marriage in a state that doesn't have equality is discriminatory and antithetical to American values. But attempting to take away marriage rights in a state where no one can verbalize any true harms at a time when so many true harms plague us, in every state and federally? It seriously keeps me awake at night knowing that kind of mindset still exists. Or worse yet: Knowing that groups like NOM actively cultivate it.


Those who can't remember the past...

To stop these future awful efforts, we need to learn from the past. That's why NOM Exposed Project Director Kevin Nix was this week so insistent on NOM Watchers following the info stream that's coming out about the Question One battle we waged and lost in the state of Maine in 2009.

Kevin noted two things about what's coming out now: "The campaign manager for their side in the 2009 Maine ballot fight admits a few key things. (1) All they have to do to win is create 'doubt' in people’s minds (i.e., it’s not really about persuading folks their position is the right one); and (2) The infamous NOM line about gay marriage leading to teaching the gay in schools is 'not completely accurate.' Kevin's right to isolate and highlight the importance of stuff like this, because if we are going to win, we are going to have to become even better about knowing groups like NOM better than they know their own efforts. And I don't mean just know them in an anecdotal, "Yeah, yeah, they talk about school books -- now can we go have a cocktail?" sort of way: I mean we must truly KNOW what the organized marriage opposition movement is doing in this country to stop or chip away at our existing rights, as well as UNDERSTAND how and why they are doing it.

It's not the only way we will win, because equality is inevitable. But if we want to win sooner, we will become total geeks at this stuff. Because trust men, I know one thing, without a shred of doubt: The other side is certainly doing their homework on us!  We must be as even more committed, as we are the ones with tangibles to lose.  To stop such losses, there is no better place for us to focus than NOM, the siphon through which the other side is now agreeably funneling any and all marriage efforts.


Until next week, authentic photo fans,

-Jeremy

Jeremy Hooper

Good As You/NOM Exposed

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