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03/17/2012

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

by Jeremy Hooper

Nationalorganizationformarriage-23

Dear NOM Watcher,

Let's start with a few truths.

TRUTH ONE: Roseanne Barr is an entertainer, not a gay activist who speaks for the movement.

TRUTH TWO: Kirk Cameron didn't just say he opposed marriage equality, but rather that he thought homosexuality is "unnatural…detrimental and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization."

TRUTH THREE: No one who has responded to Cameron's obviously hurtful comments in an official, LGBT rights capacity has indicated that Kirk is representative of every "pro-marriage" person across this nation.

TRUTH FOUR: The people who have responded to Cameron's obviously hurtful comments in an official, LGBT rights capacity have simply pointed out the unintended dangers associated with careless words, not wantonly attacked the former sitcom star in a "vicious" way.

But of course leave it to NOM to ignore all of this and go off on their own, self-victimizing, self-serving tangent. In an email blast titled "You're An Accomplice to Murder?!" NOM president Brian Brown took a tweet from Roseanne Barr, wherein the entertainer NOM-ridic-Kirk-emailintimated that both Cameron and Rick Warren are accomplices to murder because of the American links to the horrid situation in Uganda, and then acted as if Barr was appointed the spokesperson for some sort of defining International Gay Rights Task Force when none of us were looking. Plus, even though Barr's tweet, regardless of what you think of it, was undeniably directed only to specific public people and their specific work in the public sphere, Brown parlayed her words into an attack on any and everyone who opposes same-sex marriage. Brian used Barr's tweet to claim that "[a]pparently believing that marriage is between a man and a woman, as millions of Americans like you and I do—and saying so publicly—is hate speech and equivalent to murder," before claiming that this is "what NOM is fighting against every day: a vicious attempt to impose a radical social agenda while trying to silence anybody who disagrees."

Furthermore, Brown never even mentioned what Kirk Cameron actually said. The truth is that if Cameron has simply said he opposes same-sex marriage, there would've been no news there. Almost everyone engaged in either side of this "culture war" knows where the evangelical actor stands. He's been opposing LGBT rights for years now. The reason why LGBT rights groups stepped in this time is because of the overly hostile "detrimental and ultimately destructive" claims that Cameron attached to his stance. Those are the comments that take this, a conversation about civil marriage rights, way off of the supposed topic at hand and get right into the animus that keeps coming up whenever these things go to court. Many of us are astounded to hear how frequently this kind of rhetoric peppers our opposition's public engagement, knowing what potential it has to wound. But it unfortunately does often accompany such engagement -- and when it does, we respond. Thus the reason for the Kirk Cameron response.

That last, most unfortunate reality about the hostile rhetoric that so regularly turns up on the other side is exactly why Brian sends out e-blasts with script-flipping themes like this. Deep down, Brian knows the kind of views that pepper his movement. He may be a lot of things, but Brian's not a dumb man. Or an imperceptive man, for that matter. He knows that comments like Cameron's "unnatural…detrimental and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization" quip show America how much true and utter disregard for LGBT people as human beings surrounds the organized cause to stop same-sex marriages, and he knows that this candor is the Achilles Heel (or Vocal Box, as it were) that will ultimately destroy the "it's just about protecting marriage" ruse. So rather than do what he should do, which is call for people like Kirk Cameron to tone down the hurtful words, Brian chooses to go after equality activists instead. Politically, he needs America to see gays who are fighting for their long overdue rights as the truly aggressive ones at play.

But I, for one, am not going to allow Brian to save face in this ignoble debate that he and his organization have waged against certain kinds of Americans by lumping equality activists into some mean, mad crowd of crazy. I have absolutely no need to desire to position Brian or any same-sex marriage opponent as "an accomplice to murder," and I can say with firsthand certainty that this is not the general view of my "side" of this conversation. But we do know that the NOM crowd is incredibly wrong and is causing a whole host of harms to LGBT people and their allies every single day that they engage in this fight. This fallout, unintended or not, can be quite brutal, which is why we work so hard to open eyes. We want this to end and we see that the only peaceful solution is for people to stop telling our fellow citizens that we gay folk are "destructive" and "detrimental."

If Brian expects those of us who recognize and/or have suffered from the brutal fallout to apologize for noting the record as it stands and working to make a positive change for our shared future, then he's got a long wait ahead of him. Better find a good book or something.


NOM in NH: Hopes we'll 'compromise', hopes we were all born yesterday

This week I again noted the staggering game of pretend that NOM is trying to work in New Hampshire, where they are trying to take away marriage equality and "restore" civil unions. I won't rehash, because all has been NOM-compromise-liesaid. But I can promise/warn you that I will continue to note the hypocrisy of NOM's whole "compromise" setup throughout this cruel effort to repeal certain kinds of New Hampshire citizens' marriages, because it seriously blows my mind to see an organization that has, in a singular and resounding voice, stood against civil unions for the past decade or more to now act as if they are okay with the concept because they know it's the politically smart stance to take.

Forget even the myriad of reasons to oppose NOM's crude and discriminatory activities. As a matter of principle alone, who could work for an organization so willing to sell out its own stated support (and supporters) for the sake of pragmatism?!


NOM in NH: Hopes we'll fear 'gay billionaires', hopes we were all born yesterday

Let's stick with New Hampshire for a second, where it seems that NOM's ever-out-of-tune hypocrisy meter is in the shop for an indefinite amount of time. At least that's my read, considering the one-two punch of the aforementioned civil unions thing combined with some web ads that the org is running in the state:

Screen Shot 2012-03-16 At 10.19.51 Am
NOM's new gay billionaires web ad in NH [NOM Exposed]

If you're reading this, I most likely don't need to point out the ridiculousness of NOM claiming that outside forces are flooding any state with cash. Flooding a state -- any state, regardless of affiliation -- with a lot of cash from sort of suspect origin? That could be NOM's description in the dictionary, for crying out loud! It's how this organization is largely known these days!

And the weird thing is that NOM doesn't even really hide its high-dollar-signed efforts, considering the multimillion dollar vows they've so proudly touted in various press releases. So to see them using this kind of shady, "gay billionaires are passing secretive money" tactic in New Hampshire? Well, it's just another reason why I hear the "Boy Who Cried Wolf" is trying to move his office next door to NOM's: He knows that he will seem consistent and trustworthy in comparison.


Fresh Wash. preps for outside mud

Looking westward, we're really starting to see NOM heating up in Washington state. Right now, the goal is to collect enough signatures to put that state's recently passed and signed marriage equality law before voters in November, adding Washington to the list of area where civil marriage will go to the ballot this year. Because you know NOM, always scared that the holiday season will be ruined unless they sacrifice crucial civil rights to the Gods of the Autumn Harvest.

All we really know at this point is that Brian Brown (from D.C. by way of Connecticut) and Chris Plante (from Rhode Island) have been holding all kinds of meetings and greetings in the state, tacking up a list of in-kind contributions that far exceeds the cash contributions that have come into the "Preserve Marriage Washington" campaign. But it will certainly be interesting to watch how NOM messages in this, a reliably blue state that already has a civil-unions-like setup. Is NOM going to pretend to be okay with "compromise" in this state as well? Stay tuned.


'What Makes a baby?' Only NOM-approved storks, apparently

A recurring theme in recent months has involved the things that NOM and its staffers say and do that prove how much beyond their stated cause of marriage the org's agenda really goes. This week, we saw a glaring example of this in the form of a children's book.

Or actually, not even a children's book, but a theoretical, yet-to-be-published book that is raising money on KickStarter. Brian Brown used his NOM newsletter this week to attack this planned children's book, which has absolutely nothing to do with marriage and has everything to do with the various ways we human beings form families. Brian wrote:

NOM-ridic-Kirk-email

It's the kind of off-issue attack that raises serious questions among those of us who are so frequently targeted by NOM, and something I mention every time NOM attacks children's books in marriage campaigns. The reality is that same-sex-headed families have existed, do exist, and will continue to exist regardless of how quickly we on the side of equality earn our full slate of state and federal rights. So when the president of an organization that leads the fight against same-sex marriage in this country raises a crass, unprovoked stink against books that aim only to acknowledge something that's already part of our fabric independent of the civil marriage conversation? It's hard for those of us who value this fabric to ignore the length of the intended rips!


NOM's untamed well gets CAPped

If you saw this week's launch of GLAAD's Commentator Accountability Project (CAP), you might have noticed that NOM earned a dubious honor. NOM as an organization has more personalities featured in the project than any other group, with four making the current cut. Co-founders Robert George and Maggie Gallagher join current president Brian Brown and affiliate leader Jennifer Roback Morse (of NOM's Ruth Institute) on the list of potential pundits whose public engagement has sometimes veered into "Say what?!?" territory. Their individual profiles highlight the kinds of views that we want to see future interviewers bring up whenever one of these folks returns to a prominent outlet to play the buttoned-up roles that they know are more publicly palatable.

Of course knowing NOM, I'm sure they will claim that highlighting their own words constitutes yet another "attack" against them. But whatever. Let them claim this. In this ongoing fight, truth might sometimes seem stranger than fiction -- but by sticking with the truth while NOM spins wilder and stranger fictions is the way we will ultimately prevail.


Until next week, my darlings,

Jeremy Hooper
Good As You/ NOM Exposed

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