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04/14/2012

Days and Slights: This Week in NOM (Apr. 8 - Apr. 14)

by Jeremy Hooper

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Dear NOM Watcher,

They're coming after you next…unless we stop them!

That's the claim that the National Organization For Marriage blasted out to readers late Friday afternoon, in an apparent attempt to flip the mounting scandals, fiascos, and missteps that have defined the discriminatory organization's spring. Even though NOM is an organization that exists only to stop Screen Shot 2012-04-14 At 10.00.14 Amand/or take away same-sex couples' rights to form legal partnerships, NOM is seriously pushing the idea that those of us who oppose the crude NOM agenda are the ones on the attack. NOM is once again positioning equality activists as the enemy.

And it didn't stop at the one line, either. In the text that followed the "coming after you" claim, Brian Brown proceeded to use the word "attack" six different times, presumably working under the belief that telling a lie long enough makes it true. He called us relentless, he called us radicals—he Screen Shot 2012-04-14 At 10.02.17 Am-3called us anything that would make us, the side that wants this fight to end so that we can enjoy our lives rather than fight for the same, seem like the ones perpetuating a "culture war."

Yes, my pals—Brian Brown, a man who makes a six figure living off of "coming after" LGBT rights is yet again fundraising (i.e. sustaining his own income) with the notion that standing up for deserved freedoms equals an "attack."


Am I surprised that the increasingly aggressive NOM is working overtime to convince America that we are "coming after" this, that, or the other? No, I can't say that I am. With every single setback—and don't let NOM fool you, there have been massive setbacks for the organization over the past year—the organization's messaging trends ever more out of touch with whatever sense of pragmatism or protocol Maggie Gallagher and Robert George intended to infuse into this debate when they founded and branded this particular outfit. In the days since the big losses in places like New York, we've seen NOM threaten any politician who simply disagrees with the NOM worldview. We've watched them attack the faith beliefs of candidates like David Weprin and Lew Fidler (both were said to be "betraying our Torah") while pretending they support religious freedom. We've seen them form all kinds of alliances with organizations and outlets that are undeniably working towards combatting LGBT people's very cores, not just our ring fingers. We've even seen Brian Brown mention things like pedophilia or so-called "ex-gay" therapy in his national outreach efforts, clearly trying to portray marriage equality activists as possessing a "changeable" behavior that is linked to a whole host of other unrelated things.

So no, as someone who has watched (and exposed) it all, I can't say that I posses any more capacity for shock when it comes to NOM and its increasingly over-the-top tactics. But I can say that as long as this organization is coming after my family and my marriage, I will do everything in my power to stop the NOM misfortune from spreading, hurting, and dividing this great nation more than it already has.

And if my pushback means I'm "coming after" the NOM agenda, then I challenge NOM staffers to ask themselves: What "came before" to make me care about NOM's shenanigans? Because let's get real here: we equality activists aren't doing this stuff because it's just so darn fun!


Another state's GOP, another attempt to make 'moderate' a bad word

Not content with simply ensuring the New York GOP is filled only with anti-equality conservatives, NOM is now targeting the Live Free or Die State with newspaper ads that list all of the GOP legislators who voted against repealing marriage. NOM then uses that same ad space to pinpoint "faithful candidates" Screen Shot 2012-04-14 At 10.13.15 Amwho might be willing to run against the eighty-seven Republicans who saw no need to strip New Hampshire's same-sex couples of their hard fought and deserved rights.

Interestingly, NOM personalities have been bragging for the past couple of years about how they were instrumental in changing the makeup of the legislature so that it was now friendly to the NOM view. Since 2009, NOM's been aggressive in NH, honing in on a micro level with a long game strategy that we were all told would pay off for them in 2012 with a legislative voting repealing marriage equality. And yet instead, the payoff was a crushing defeat for NOM and a fabulous, message-sending win for those of us who value equality in NH and worldwide. So I really have to wonder why anyone, even among the ardently anti-equality crowd, should trust that this organization has any ability to make a difference in 2012 and beyond? I mean, seriously—in what alternate universe does NOM still hold any cards? Because they certainly no longer hold any in the universe that we commonly call New Hampshire!

But like all paper tigers, NOM must keep up the illusion of power. That's what these new ads are: an illusion.


NOM's 'Dump' = organizational landfill

NOM also doesn't hold any sway when it comes to Starbucks. Forget just the petitions themselves, a marker where NOM's "Dump Starbucks" effort is still outpaced by over 600,000 votes. The more damning evidence is the stock price, which has risen in a MAJOR way in the days since the NOM boycott officially began:

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NOM is planning to go international with the effort in a last ditch move to save their laughable failure. "Great, our sales are slightly sluggish in the Republic of Chad," said the Starbucks executive who resides in my mind.


Bypassing NOM, talking to allies instead

This week, the Human Rights Campaign directed two pointed calls NOM's way, one alone and the other in tandem with Freedom to Marry.

The first, done with Freedom To Marry, is a direct request For Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan to stop directing the Catholic Church's vast resources towards NOMs discriminatory efforts. The truth, as the two organizations highlight, is that Catholic support for marriage equality is on the rise in spite of (because of?) the heavily Catholic NOM's daily efforts to stop the progress. At some point, that church is going to have to listen to the millions of Catholics who are sick and tired of this divisive "culture war" and who sincerely want the church to refocus its efforts on the actual social ills that threaten our harmony and overall wellbeing. HRC and FTM think now's a good time to do so. I concur.

The second call is for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to reject NOM's endorsement of his candidacy. This one will be truly fascinating to watch, because I really don't see a way the Romney campaign will be able to just ignore it. Some bullet points:

  • It's 100% clear that NOM wanted to crown Rick Santorum even more than they once wanted to anoint Carrie Prejean the queen of under-30 public opinion, so that post-primary baggage is already attached to the NOM endorsement.

  • Romney is going to have a really tough time with some on the far-right who are convinced he's a secret liberal and even responsible for marriage equality coming to Massachusetts during his tenure as Governor. Romney will need moderates. Alienating moderates with something like a NOM embrace could prove costly to the campaign.

  • The recent revelation of NOM's divide and conquer racial strategy has done the organization absolutely no favors, with virtually no one from the conservative commentariat stepping up to defend NOM publicly.

  • We on the side of marriage equality (which includes a growing number of moderate Republicans) are certainly not going to let a candidate Romney have a pass on any of this. Simply ignoring the endorsement is not an option.

but…

As I said, I don't really see a way Mitt's going to get a pass. The Romney campaign is going to have to decide whether it's smart too woo the Santorum crowd by hopping on board the growing liability that is the NOM train, or if he's going to offer a "Thanks, but I'm good" to the tarnished goods that NOM is offering up as an electoral boon.

HRC knows that the inevitable answer to this overall conversation is best represented with an "=". The question is whether the GOP presidential math of 2012 still sees value in subtracting LGBT people from the American picture.


Until next week,

-Jeremy

Jeremy Hooper
Good As You/NOM Exposed

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