NOM outnumbered again: Despite largest turnout of tour, NOM fails to outdraw equality supporters in St. Paul, MN
July 28, 2010
By Arisha Michelle Hatch
Today, NOM Tour Tracker is coming to you from the Twin Cities. Our team is on the ground in St. Paul, MN, the 11th stop on the NOM tour. And for once, NOM did a decent job of getting its supporters out.
In the largest NOM turnout to date, I hand-counted 163 NOM supporters before I stopped to file this blog post. And Brian Brown’s just giddy about it.
“They told us, you can’t protect [traditional] marriage in California,” he said, laughing. “We passed it […] They said Maine is a [liberal] state, we beat them worse.”
Despite this, NOM supporters were still outnumbered by supporters of equality. A hand-count total of 217 equality supporters showed up to outnumber NOM supporters. The largest contingent of equality supporters stood behind the NOM rally before marching up the steps and inside the State House for a rally. 33 equality supporters have stayed behind, silently holding signs and rainbow flags. Brian acknowledged the local equality organizations’ commitment to have a “peaceful and respectful” counter-protest.
I videotaped one NOM supporter approach the young children of a lesbian counter-protestor with a magic trick. He held up a red and blue card.
“Which card is longer?”
The guardian of the children intervened.
“Don’t talk to my children.”
The man demonstrated the card trick for me. On the back are a copy of the Ten Commandments.
We’ll post that video later today. Below is a photo of the anti-equality rally:
UPDATE BY ADAM (10:51 PST): More photos are coming in. Here’s one of the rally inside the Minnesota State Capitol rotunda (which I recently learned has the 2nd-largest self-supporting marble dome in the world… you can guess the largest in the comments):
Equality supporters outside:
Here’s a photo of equality supporters remaining outside the NOM bus:
UPDATE BY ADAM (11:32 PST): Minnesota Public Radio reports that NOM is airing TV ads targeting candidates in the Minnesota gubernatorial race:
The question of whether to legalize same-sex marriage has come up in the governor’s race. The National Organization for Marriage began airing TV ads targeting the gubernatorial candidates in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, including Democrats Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Mark Dayton and Matt Entenza and Independent Tom Horner.
Same-sex marriage came up again as an issue on Tuesday after campaign finance reports showed Target Corp. gave money to an organization backing Republican Tom Emmer for governor. Emmer has opposed efforts to give same-sex couples equal rights, including letting them marry.
Target, which has supported the GLBT community, responded to complaints over the donation, saying its support of the community is ‘unwavering.’
Same-sex marriage isn’t likely to be on the minds of many primary voters, but once the slate of candidates is decided Aug. 10, it’s possible voters could hear more about it.
Advocates in favor of same-sex marriage believe it could become legal in Minnesota if voters elect a DFL governor and if the DFL Party is able to keep its majority in the state Legislature.
Meanwhile, a group of same-sex couples has filed a lawsuit to try to get the court’s to overturn Minnesota’s law against same-sex marriage. That effort could take several years to run its course.
This is why turning out to counter NOM’s message is so important. While NOM’s ads are on TV in Minnesota, real people are on the ground showing the strength of their support for the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.
UPDATE BY ADAM (11:41 PST): Elsewhere, the Minnesota Star-Tribune reports on Brian Brown’s comments (h/t to Lesbians Love Boies in the comments for the link):
NOM President Brian Brown praised Minnesota’s gay marriage advocates for avoiding a confrontation. “We need to have civil debate. This is an emotional issue,” Brown said. “In other cities, we have not seen this kind of civility.”
Brown said he wants to see Minnesota join the states that have passed a constitutional marriage protecting traditional marriage. “We want Minnesota to be number 32,” he said.
Editorial note: Minor typo in the Star-Tribune piece which I believe should read “constitutional amendment“
Two notes. First is that Brian is incorrect that 31 states have passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Last fall, Maine voted to repeal a law which was enacted by the duly elected legislators and governor of the state, which is different than a constitutional amendment. Second, while many states have enacted such bans, other states like Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire, enacted equality through the legislative process, while other jurisdictions like California, New York and the District of Columbia voted to legalize the freedom to marry in one or more houses of the legislature. The point is that people like Brown always complain about judicial activism and demand that legislators vote, and when the duly elected legislators of the state go against them, they complain about that and demand a people’s vote. One day, they will run out of that excuse, too.
UPDATE BY ARISHA (3:08 PST): OutFront Minnesota held a short press conference and rally inside the rotunda of the Capitol building. Speakers, including several OutFront organizers, an out lesbian minister, and a straight father, addressed the crowd. Inside, 184 equality activists gathered.
“The National Organization for Marriage has launched a nation-wide campaign attacking the notion of fairness and equality for same-sex couples,” Monica Meyer, Interim Executive Director of OutFront Minnesota said in a statement. “This backward-looking effort is increasingly out of step with the realities on the ground and the opinions of many Minnesotans. Supporters of marriage equality will be inside the Capitol, where we are at other times of the year, standing for equality and inclusion.”
“How do I explain to my grandchildren that when they cross a state line that this is grandma’s wife, but when [we] cross back over the state line, it’s like we’re invisible?” the minister asked the audience.
“I’m here today because I have a son and I don’t know if my son will be gay or straight, but whatever he chooses I want him to have the same rights as all as his friends do,” said the straight father.
An OutFront Minnesota organizer led a familiar and moving chant (one that we often to do with Courage Campaign members, and my personal favorite organizing chant of all time):
“It is our duty to fight. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and protect each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
At the conclusion of the equality event, activists went back outside, lined the NOM rally in a semi-circle and turned their backs to the speakers in a silent counter-protest.
Outside, Brian Brown was giddy and despite his insistence otherwise, even his speakers are becoming more fringe.
“America is becoming a nation of bastards,” one NOM speaker stated from the podium to applause from the crowd. “You can dress a pig in a tuxedo, but it’s still a pig,” he continued.
We also met with Father Michael Becker, a Catholic priest whose main argument against homosexuality was centered around the practice of anal and oral sex. According to Father Becker, anal and oral sex lack dignity because they abuse their partners as instrumentalities of pleasure for non-procreative potential.
He said it, not me.
We’ll upload this video and others, including Brown’s response to whether he endorsed lynching homosexuals (as suggested by a NOM supporter in Indianapolis).
UPDATE BY ADAM (3:47 PST): I’ve got to share a few videos with you, the first being possibly the most moving and powerful one, from an OutFront Minnesota organizer. Watch her lead the crowd in a chant and her speech about why we fight:
In the extended entry, you can find an interview with Monica Meyer, the interim executive director of OutFront Minnesota whom Arisha quotes above. Click on (more…):
Here’s Monica discussing why they held their rally in the rotunda, and what she thinks of NOM: