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Days and Slights: This Week in NOM (Apr. 1 - Apr. 7)

by Jeremy Hooper


Dear NOM Watcher,

This weekend marks both Easter and the start of Passover. Two faiths, two holy times—both traditionally marked by family, togetherness, good food, and good vibes. Yes, perhaps they are separated by which round object defies the celebration, a matzo ball or an egg. However, the two religious-rooted events are united by a common humanity.

Although for me, these are the times of year when the religious overreaches of groups like NOM really come to the fore. When I start seeing socially conservative "culture warriors" tweeting about holiday respites away from their usual duties in order to spend time with their families, it only highlights the misdirected harms those on-hold jobs inflict on mine. When I hear their warm fuzzy senitments, I think of the cold pricklies that their anti-equality efforts send up my spine.  Or when I imagine the religious services connected to the holidays, I can't help but wonder whether part of the messaging will once again turn political against my civil rights. I've seen it happen too many times.


In terms of Passover, let's look no further than the two times NOM has stirred up Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn over the past year, working to convince voters that two different Democratic candidates' support for civil marriage equality constituted a war against "our Torah values." In both Screen Shot 2012-04-06 At 12.35.09 Pmcases, NOM, supposed fans of religious freedom, took the two candidates' own religious views in support of fairness and equality and turned those into supposed face slaps. In the latest instance, the NY special election of last month, NOM went even further, forging an alliance with and giving credence to a group (Jews For Morality) that declared gays themselves to be filthy, degrading, disgusting, and in need of having their "immoral behavior" "destroyed and eliminated" so that society can be saved.

As I watch my father-in-law—who so proudly walked me down the aisle to join my husband, his son—hide the matzo at our seder so that my young nephews—who so sweetly led the procession down that same aisle in support of us, their uncles—can fulfill the annual Passover game that's concurrently delighting Jewish children worldwide, I can't help but wonder when I'll know a spring where attacks against my family values are not on my mind. I can't help but wonder when NOM will stop working to divide faith communities in such crude ways.

In terms of Easter, it's hard to lock down where, exactly, to begin. It seems that with every passing year, the Catholic Church hierarchy ramps up efforts against Screen Shot 2012-04-06 At 12.33.50 Pmus. Running a big assist in this effort? NOM, an almost exclusively Catholic organization. There is no single outfit in America that's more fully or unapologetically working to inscribe the Catholic Church's religious objections against marriage equality into our nation's shared civil policies. Adding insult to injury, writers like NOM's own Thomas Peters write off the large number of pro-equality Catholics as "fake," as if opposing gay people's civil rights is now right up there with Confirmation, Confession, and Communion in terms of demanded Catholic commitments. Agree with the NOM stance or you're just wrong—that's how this organizations views Catholicism. That's how this organization views Easter. That's how this organization views life.

As I walk by St. Patrick's Cathedral on a beautiful spring morning in NYC, it's impossible for me to ignore the Catholic bulletins across the country that are politicking against equal civil rights. It's hard for me to ignore the man inside the building who spent last summer fighting my marriage. Difficult for me to not think of NOM, the organization that I have to spend so much of my time tracking and refuting, only because the Catholic heads of the organization cannot accept that their peronsally-held religious objections to same-sex marriage (which equality activists fully tolerate) are not valid reason to deny or strip certain taxpayers of their constitutional freedoms.

I want to eat my Cadbury eggs with the same easy joy that greeted my ten-year-old lips. I want to raise my glass of Manischewitz with no extra weight attached to the custom. I want my role within my family, my country, and our collective human existence to find the same sort of respect (or, at very least, tolerance) afforded to others.  I want this contrived "culture war" to end so that we can maybe know our shared strength.

I will honor and embrace this weekend, because NOM and like minds do not have the power to rob me of my life. But as they go about their own weekend celebrations, I do want everyone who works at the National Organization For Marriage to know how much needless anguish the organization's work brings to so many minds. They can say whatever they want about equality activists, working to paint us as the "bad guys" in any way that they wish. The reality is that our cause does not work to position their lives, families, or celebrations as fake or invalid. Their cause? It undeniably does!

"United" they stand (against own stated divisions)

The big NOM story continues to be the secret documents that recently came to light wherein organizational higher-ups 201204061230admitted they were working to divide us as people. With mainstream outlets like The New York Times calling out NOM's "poisonous political approach," the organization has had no choice but to go into overdrive mode, spinning with the ferocity of a centrifuge. And, true to "pro-family" form, this spin game means flipping the script so that the media, the left, the gays, and [insert whatever other far-right attack point might stick] are the supposed adversaries, while NOM is just the poor "victim."  So typical.

What continues to annoy me is how NOM (and specifically Brian Brown) thinks that the "vindicating" approach is to show that the organization has Screen Shot 2012-04-06 At 12.30.47 PmAfrican-American and Hispanic supporters. Why, exactly, is that the point here?! I happen to know that NOM also has (or at least had) a celibate lesbian working on staff. But so what?  Whether or not a gay person, Black person, Hispanic person, or any kind of person continues to support NOM now that these revelations have come out changes nothing in terms of what the NOM guardians did/continue to do!  This stated goal of standing on a lofted perch and drumming up community fights below is forever embedded in NOM's DNA!

Yes, folks of all stripes will continue to support NOM despite of, because they are unaware of, or even because of the tactics the organization expressed in these now-public docs. So what?  That doesn't make the tactics any prettier!

Dump or Pump?

Meanwhile, NOM's "Dump Starbucks" boycott continues to be a miserable failure. The NOM support tally, which is already questionable to begin with, Screen Shot 2012-04-06 At 12.31.54 Pmis inching up at a particularly slow snail's pace, reaching just over 29,000 signatures at the time of this writing. This opposed to the whopping 642,000+ people who, also as of this posting, have chosen to thank Starbucks for taking a principled stand.

Although I should note that I've heard some NOM supporters say that only their tally matters, since their tally is a measure of onetime Starbucks customers who are now taking business elsewhere and therefore hitting the company's bottom line. However, that's also crap, since the Starbucks stock has only risen in the days since the NOM boycott began. As of this writing, the SBUX ticker is at a 58.18 high. It was under 54 on the day the boycott began.

Seems folks are really, really into their iced coffees this spring. Or they're really, really over the National Organization For Marriage. Or, for those like me, it's a healthy mix of both.

Until next week, my tasty Peeps


Jeremy Hooper
Good As You/ NOM Exposed

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