Internal documents of the National Organization for Marriage, the most prominent nationwide anti-same-sex marriage group, reveal a scheme to attempt to split the Democratic party base along racial and ethnic lines with respect to the issue of marriage equality, according to a March 26 Human Rights Campaign release.
The documents were unsealed in Maine on March 26; they had been filed and released in connection with a state campaign ethics investigation into NOM’s financial activities there.
Describing efforts to divide gays and African-Americans, a 2009 report to the NOM board of directors states: “The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks—two key Democratic constituencies. Find, equip, energize and connect African-American spokespeople for marriage; develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots. No politician wants to take up and push an issue that splits the base of his party. Fanning the hostility raised in the wake of Prop. 8 is key to raising the costs of pushing gay marriage to its advocates. ... [F]ind attractive young black Democrats to challenge white gay marriage advocates electorally.”
NOM also expressed the goal of making opposition to gay marriage a marker for Latino identity, stating in the 2009 report to the NOM board of directors: “Will the process of assimilation to the dominant Anglo culture lead Hispanics to abandon traditional family values? We must interrupt this process of assimilation by making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity—a symbol of resistance to inappropriate assimilation.”
In its 2009 “National Strategy for Winning the Marriage Battle,” NOM set for itself the goal of establishing a cadre of anti-gay “ethnic rebels,” stating, “[B]y searching for these leaders across national boundaries, we will assemble a community of next generation Latino leaders that Hispanics and other next-generation elites in this country can aspire to be like. (As ‘ethnic rebels,’ such spokespeople will also have an appeal across racial lines, especially to young urbans in America). ... [W]e will develop Spanish language radio and TV ads, as well as pamphlets, YouTube videos and church handouts and popular songs. Our ultimate goal is to make opposition to gay marriage an identity marker, a badge of youth rebellion to conformist association to the bad side of ‘Anglo’ culture.”
NOM also sought to attract a certain type of celebrity to its side in the marriage war, stating in one document, “Hollywood with its cultural biases is far bigger than we can hope to be. We recognize this. But we also recognize the opportunity—the disproportionate potential impact of proactively seeking to gather and connect a community of artists, athletes, writers, beauty queens and other glamorous non-cognitive elites across national boundaries. (This is applying the [Reese] Witherspoon and IAV model to non-intellectual elites.)”
In 2009, NOM made an ad featuring then-Miss California Carrie Prejean, whose anti-gay marriage statement during that year’s Miss USA pageant had ignited a firestorm of controversy, according to a March 27 release from Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination. For a while, Ms. Prejean was the darling of the anti-same-sex marriage right and the bête noire of the LGBT community.
The NOM documents also reveal plans to attack President Barack Obama and to inject divisive social issues into the political sphere generally. NOM’s 2009 “American Principles Project” seeks to “expose Obama as a social radical,” “develop side issues to weaken pro-gay marriage political leaders and parties and develop an activist base” and “raise such issues as pornography, protection of children and the need to oppose all efforts to weaken religious liberty at the federal level,” the Huffington Post reported March 27.
NOM also has its sights set on the Catholic Church. In its “Catholic Clergy Project,” the group describes its “close relationships with Catholic bishops,” and says it will use those relationships to “equip, energize and moralize Catholic priests on the marriage issue.”
Reaction to the NOM documents has been swift and negative. “With the veil lifted, Americans everywhere can now see the ugly politics that the National Organization for Marriage traffics in every day,” HRC President Joe Solmonese said. “While loving gay and lesbian couples seek to make lifelong commitments, NOM plays racial politics, tries to hide donors and makes up lies about people of faith.”
“NOM’s underhanded attempts to divide will not succeed if black Americans remember their own history of discrimination,” Julian Bond, former chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said in a statement. “Pitting bigotry’s victims against other victims is reprehensible; the defenders of justice must stand together.”
Out Los Angeles-based Republican presidential hopeful Fred Karger, who filed the original complaint with the Maine Ethics Commission, said in an email to Frontiers, “NOM’s contempt for the law and manipulation of the truth appears to show intent to violate state and possibly federal election laws.” Karger is calling for a Congressional investigation of NOM, and urges the Catholic and Mormon churches, which he characterizes as active supporters of NOM, to drop that support.
NOM remains unapologetic. “Gay marriage is not a civil right, and we will continue to point this out in written materials such as those released in Maine,” NOM President Brian Brown said in a statement. “We proudly bring together people of different races, creeds and colors to fight for our most fundamental institution: marriage.”