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10/01/2012

How a deceptive movement deceives: A quick primer

by Jeremy Hooper

This seemingly straightforward reference comes from the Protect Marriage Maine FAQ:

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[FAQ]

"Ooh, Harvard—that's a good school. Those are smart people. Heck, they're even 'liberal elites,' so if they say something like this, it's *extra* true! "

That's what Protect Marriage Maine wants readers to hear and think. Only thing? Despite having an innocuous name, this Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy is not a mere scholarly journal, but rather a far-right publication with a stated purpose of advancing conservative thought. In fact, it is the official publication of the very conservative Federalist Society.

This piece that Protect Marriage Maine references, titled "Marriage facts," states in the introduction "the conclusion that the package supportive of man-woman marriage is decidedly more defensible." This particular examination was meant to analyze the legal reasoning that leads judges to either accept or not accept the "facts" that the conservative author has already accepted as true and not further debate the facts themselves. It was written as a sort of intra-movement debate for conservatives who have already rejected same-sex marriage. It was meant for the conservatives to discuss among themselves, not for proponents and opponents to debate marriage equality on its merits. It's an openly subjective take.

Oh, and the unnamed writer of this referenced piece? Well, that would be Monte Neil Stewart—a Mormon, former BYU professor, backer of Utah's anti-gay-marriage amendment (Amendment 3), and co-chair of the resulting "Yes on 3" coalition campaign. Stewart is also the president of the Marriage Law Foundation. That would be this Marriage Law Foundation:

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[Marriage Law Foundation]

This is the same Marriage Law Foundation that touts NOM co-founder Maggie Gallagher as a board member. In fact, Maggie's name actually comes up twelve times in the footnotes of the article that Protect Marriage Maine references. Other prominent "protect marriage" voices like NOM co-founder Robert George also get mentions.

Of course Protect Marriage Maine doesn't tell you any of this. They, the members of the team that is out to willfully deceive Maine into pitting personal faith beliefs against shared civil freedoms, just want you to believe that they have an objective Ivy League voice on their side. They, the movement that typically gets shot down by deep scholarly analysis, want you to see this reference and think of scholarly heft. But in reality, the article is a piece of partisan commentary. They don't want you to know that little (by which I mean key) point.


This is not an anomaly. This is the kind of dubious dealing on which the "traditional values" crowd has built a movement. Yes, their tactics have loss built right into them, because a public always becomes more clued-in over time. But for those of us who have spent years witnessing the false witness–bearing of a discriminatory movement that simultaneously hijacks the moral high ground, the reliable game is almost as offensive as the divisive goal. Almost.

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