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01/23/2012

National Organization For 'The Family'?

by Jeremy Hooper

Rick Stout, the person who shot some of those silly "Marriage Anti-Defamation" videos for NOM, includes this work on his resume. However, he makes one interesting error:

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[SOURCE: RickStout.com]

National Organization for the Family? NOF? Interesting.

I see three possibilities here: One benign, one even more conservative, and one more intriguing for our purposes. Let's consider.

- Option 1: A benign error. Stout made a hasty mistake and mislabeled the org. No big deal.

- Option 2: An attempt to go even more conservative. Stout made the change in order to cast an even wider "pro-family" net, in hopes of getting groups that are not focused on marriage. For those who aren't clued in, National Org. For Marriage could sound like it's for marriage equality. So changing it to "for the family" could be a shorthand attempt to make the group sound even more like Focus on the Family, American Family Association, or any number of religious right groups.

- Option 3: An intriguing change. Stout knows that the name National Organization For Marriage comes with added weight, so since he presumably wants to book mainstream clients, he deliberately mislabeled the group in order to protect his reputation.

I see the first option as unlikely. Stout spent considerable time, in multiple cities, working on these three vids (the Canadian schools one, the Illinois adoption one, and the Jerry "gays make me vomit" Buell one). He branded his works with NOM's logo. He surely knows the name.

I see the second one as as possible. Stout's body of work is verifiably conservative. So maybe that's the track he wants: That of the generalized "for the family" videographer.

But what if this is the more intriguing possibility? It's no secret that NOM has a national reputation that sparks opinion. It's also no secret that many Republicans -- including those who would consider themselves "for the family" -- are backing off of same-sex marriage opposition in general and NOM in particular. I've actually had people at other "pro-family" groups tell me that they still see marriage equality as a non-starter, but that they are really uncomfortable with NOM and its reliably negative tone and attacks against other people's faith. So could it be that someone like Rick Stout just doesn't want the baggage? That he doesn't want to be associated with the org whose videos -- including ones he himself shot, wrote, and directed -- are so reliably low-rated? That he doesn't want his name and expertise to come up when "National Organization for Marriage" is Googled?

It's a stretch, I admit. I mean, if he wanted total detachment, he probably wouldn't include the name Maggie Gallagher, a name which might hold even more opinionated weight than the phrase National Organization For Marriage.

However, that the possibility is even on my mind tells me something about NOM and the changing perception I see when studying this organization. I know, empirically, that even many who consider themselves conservative have more than a few apprehensions, if not outright objections, to the reliably negative, consistently secretive, intentionally divisive NOM. Might their own videographer feel similarly?

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