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Archives – September, 2010

NOM at the Jelly Belly tour stop: Signs that this just may be one long foodie road trip

It appears Jelly Belly representatives decided to not give the Vota Tus Valores staffers an opportunity to solicit and possibly have a conflict per their policy of no events/rallies/special interest groups soliciting tourists. Either that, or this really is one long foodie road trip. -Adam

VotaBus at the Jelly Belly factory

By Arisha Michelle Hatch

Camping out in the parking lot at the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, we were thrilled when the VotaBus arrived on time to their scheduled location.

Upon arrival, tour organizers were greeted by John Jamison, the Director of Retail, and led into a private tour.

The Jelly Belly Director of Retail greeting the Vota Tus Valores bus

As a few of the commenters have noted – and confirmed by Jamison – President Ronald Reagan was central to the growth of the Jelly Belly namesake because he used the company’s licorice sticks to help cure his pipe-smoking habit.

Ronald Reagan made of Jelly Bellies

“He put us on the map,” said Jamison.

I’m under 30 so I must admit that my memory of President Reagan is limited to “just say no” and trickle-down economics, but according to Alfonso he was also a leader on immigration reform.

In the parking lot, the VotaBus began blasting the song “Born in the U.S.A.” but then the CD started to skip (and no, “Anonygrl” is not ghostwriting this post).

We tried to ask Alfonso why stopping at Jelly Belly was so critical, but rather than answer he put is hand to his throat suggesting that he had laryngitis. Two seconds later he began speaking to another staffer.

They’ve clearly instituted a no-discussion policy. We couldn’t even get Thomas to tell us his favorite jelly bean flavor.

I don’t understand what these people think they’re doing. We thought for a moment that the organizers were using the opportunity to engage Jelly Belly factory workers during the tour, but they all apparently work behind a glass wall and can’t communicate with tourists.

Vota Tus Valores staffers on the Jelly Belly tour

More and more this looks like one long foodie road trip.

Although there’s nothing like jelly beans and free fudge samples in the morning. Alfonso, can we get a McDonald’s stop tomorrow morning?

Update (Adam): It’s all the more amusing when you see their first tweet this morning:

it’s a beautiful morning! excited to begin a new day meeting with Latinos and discussing the importance of voting our values! #votabus

Exactly how many Latinos did they meet, again?

219 Comments September 29, 2010

NOMsense, plain and simple (-minded)

By Rob Tisinai

NOM has filed an amicus brief with the 9th Circuit arguing for Prop 8. They call it “dynamite.” I call it a mess. I’ll leave the legal analysis to the lawyers, but I have to point out some of the worst bits of logic or my head will explode (hey, maybe that’s why it’s “dynamite”).

One bit made me especially crazy. NOM has a section titled:

Evidence from Massachusetts also suggests a weakening in the marriage culture following implementation of same-sex marriage.

I perked up because I haven’t heard of any ill-effects in Massachusetts. What could it be? Two things actually: misleading statistics and circular reasoning.

Misleading statistics

First, NOM relies on a claim made by the Prop 8 side:

Indeed, the Massachusetts data relied upon by the district court shows that both the divorce rate and the marriage rate actually changed for the worse from 2004 to 2007.

Really? Let’s graph the data.

marriage-divorce-MASS

  • We do see a tiny uptick in the divorce rate from 2004-2007. But 2008 and 2009 give us the lowest rates of the decade! All this data was available when they filed this brief on September 17, so why didn’t they use it?
  • We see a decline in marriage rates from 2004-2007, but (unlike the divorce rates), these numbers are within recent historical norms.

Frankly, based on these numbers, it’s hard to say ending marriage discrimination helped or hurt the “marriage culture” in Massachusetts. So what’s NOM’s other strategy?

Circular reasoning

This one’s an amazing lapse in logic. NOM provides this as evidence of harm:

In 2009, amicus curiae National Organization for Marriage commissioned a survey in Massachusetts of attitudes about marriage five years into that state’s experiment with same-sex marriage. The survey found that ?in the five years since gay marriage became a reality in Massachusetts, support for the idea that the ideal is a married mother and father dropped from 84 percent to 76 percent.

Do you see the circle?

NOM circular

Actually, here’s a much better spin on NOM’s survey:

In states where residents have first-hand experience with married same-sex parents, the population becomes more accepting of same-sex parents. Ignorance and second-hand knowledge help opponents of same-sex parenting, while direct contact and personal experience favor proponents.

Now, to be fair, NOM does try to make an argument that a married mom and dad are the ideal, but they do so by using another form of dishonesty.

Misusing research

NOM’s brief quotes a researcher:

[F]amily structure matters for children, and the family structure that helps the most is a family headed by two-biological parents in a low-conflict marriage. Children in single-parent families, children born to unmarried mothers, and children in stepfamilies or cohabiting relationships face higher risks of poor outcomes. . . . There is thus value for children in promoting strong, stable marriages between biological parents.

As usual, there’s something missing in this litany of sub-optimal family structures: parents who adopt a child at birth. But NOM has long been willing to throw adoptive parents under the bus in order to keep gays in their place. They also claim research shows married biological parents are better than same-sex parents, using research that didn’t even look at same-sex parents. That’s a nice lead-in to the last bunch of errors I’ll look at.

Straw men and non-sequiturs

Actually, the title above isn’t strong enough to capture the essence of NOM’s brief. It’s more like a straw army marching in random directions. For instance:

The trial court rejected this first view [of marriage], asserting that procreation has never been a purpose of marriage because elderly people and infertile people have always been allowed to marry.

Really? Actually, really no. The judge didn’t claim procreation has never been a purpose of marriage, merely that it is not the sole or necessary purpose.

Here’s another one:

Reasonable people may believe that marriage promotes the state’s interest in encouraging children to be born to a mother and father who are committed both to one another and to the children their union may create.

Oooh, that one’s slick. Who’s going to say they want to discourage such a thing? We all want a child’s parents to be committed to each other. But if my mom were still alive, she’d stand up like a Mama Grizzly between NOM and my adopted brother and state in clear terms of frightening authority that a child’s real parents may not be the biological parents. So if NOM truly wanted to strengthen the commitment between parents, they’d be eager for same-sex parents to marry.

And this:

If two men are a marriage, then marriage is clearly, and in a new public way, no longer about procreation, no longer about natural parenthood, and no longer about connecting mothers and fathers to children.

Some version of “natural parent” appears three times in the brief, and “natural family” is in there twice. “Natural” is a great term: it feels so, well, natural. And of course the opposite would be “unnatural,” as in, I don’t know, “unnatural acts.” If you’re seeking out loaded words, “natural” is near the top of your list. Plus, it allows you to avoid terms with clear meaning, like “biological” and “adoptive.” That’s crucial for NOM, because we all know biological parents can be crap while adoptive parents can be a godsend.

I’d also like to point out that we can take NOM’s logic and rewrite their quote like this:

If a childless couple is allowed to adopt a baby, then marriage is clearly, and in a new public way, no longer about procreation, no longer about natural parenthood, and no longer about connecting mothers and fathers to their natural children.

And nobody’s buying that taco.

Actually NOM is obsessed with procreation. So much so that they act like nothing about children matters except procreation. Think that’s extreme? Check this out:

If same-sex unions are deemed just the same as unions of husband and wife, it becomes difficult to see how marriage could have any public relationship to its great historic task of producing families in which the mother and father who make the baby raise the baby in love together. This court will have declared that marriage is not about children; rather it is primarily about adult interests, with no particular relationship to children at all.

No particular relationship to children at all? They’re saying that if a married couple (of any sort) didn’t “make” the baby they’re raising, then their marriage has nothing to do with children. I can’t wrap my head around that.

Also notice that NOM doesn’t bother to argue that same-sex marriage will disconnect marriage from child-rearing; they merely say “it becomes difficult to see” how it wouldn’t. That’s not an argument; it’s just a confession of blindness.

Lord, lord, lord. Misleading statistics, circular reasoning, misused research, straw men, and non sequiturs. This isn’t a legal brief, it’s a horror show from Freshman English.

65 Comments September 29, 2010

Today on the NOM California tour, we’ll find out if Jelly Belly has jelly in their bellies

By Adam Bink

Yesterday I wrote that we at P8TT/NTT were inquiring into whether Jelly Belly condoned NOM’s stop at their Fairfield factory headquarters, which will be this morning at 9:30 AM PST. Several of you wrote in and received responses. For example, Kate’s inquiry received back:

Dear Kate,

Thank you for taking the time to write; we appreciate hearing your thoughts and concerns.

We were unaware of the “National Organization for Marriage” coming to visit prior to several emails that we received. We do not accept reservations for our free tours and tour buses often stop here for our free public tours. We have not rented any of our facilities for this group and no event or rally will be held here.

Thank you for being among our special Jelly Belly fans. We value your patronage.

Sincerely,
Erin
Consumer Affairs Representative

and over at allied blog Joe.My.God, reader Carrie wrote in and received the same:

We were unaware of the “National Organization for Marriage” coming to visit prior to several emails that we received. We do not accept reservations for our free tours and tour buses often stop here for our free public tours. We have not rented any of our facilities for this group and no event or rally will be held here. Jelly Belly does not allow any group to promote their special interests, pass out flyers, or approach our visitors for their own interests at our public tours. We appreciate your offer to share with your blog community.

Sincerely, Kit McCoy

Consumer Affairs Manager

Jelly Belly Candy Company

Yesterday, we finally received our official response. Here’s P8TT/NTT friend and Frontiers in LA magazine news editor Karen Ocamb, who called the Jelly Belly spokespeople:

While everyone knows that Ronald Reagan had a penchant for jelly beans, LGBTs started wondering if the favorite candy maker was secretly antigay. I called Jelly Belly in Fairfield to find out. I spoke with Director of Communications Tomi Holt and John Jamison, Director of Retail Sales, in charge of the Gift Shop, tours and the Visitor Center. Jamison:

“We has absolutely no knowledge of this group coming to Jelly Belly prior to some emails and blogs posts yesterday.”

Holt:

“That was our first notice and they did not contact us directly.”

Jamison said he looked at the NOM website to figure out who they were and what they were doing and concluded they were just stopping their as part of their tour.  Holt said there is no rally planned – they host about a half a million people a year for their own “top rated tour” of their facility. She also said that is not unusual for folks traveling on the Interstate 80, half way between San Francisco and Sacramento. Holt said, “a lot of tour operators stop here with whatever tour they might be on.” Jamison said they have virtually no idea what kind of tour group might be coming and they don’t take reservations. Holt:

“It’s not a policy of the company; it’s not something that was arranged with us. We were a little bit surprised by all of this.”

Jamison:

“At the Visitor’s Center, I would rather look at us as being politically neutral. We welcome all guests….We would never get involved in something like that. Now if they wanted to rent our banquet facility or conference rooms and have a private event, they could do anything they wanted. But that’s not something that’s obviously happened because I would know about that.”

Jamison and Holt laughed when I asked if Jelly Belly has a political action committee – “Oh, no, no. We do not have a political action committee.” Holt added that she did not think the company made a contribution to the Prop 8 campaign, albeit she doesn’t know about individuals. Jamison:

“We had no signs on our campus that took a position – which is why we’re a little confused over all this.”

Holt said that the company abides by all state non-discrimination laws and Jamison said they undergo anti-discrimination training each year. They do not know if the company has domestic partnership benefits. Both Holt and Jamison were adamant that they had no idea why NOM is stopping at their site. “We’re scratching our heads asking the same question. We’ve never heard of them before. We don’t know who they are.” They just want people – including LGBT people “to continue loving Jelly Belly,” a Halloween treat. I think the folks at Jelly Belly will remember NOM now – and not in a sweet way.

A few thoughts:

1. Clearly they never saw this coming, and by the tenor of various responses, are worried about a Target-style boycott. You can tell they’re trying to distance themselves.

2. The question this raises for me is what will happen this morning. Two official company representatives have said “no event or rally will be held here”, and “Jelly Belly does not allow any group to promote their special interests, pass out flyers, or approach our visitors for their own interests at our public tours.” That leaves Vota Tus Valores with few options. Will security force the Vota Bus off the premises? Will NOM be allowed to solicit Jelly Belly tourists in support of political candidate? If so, how far from the actual factory and gift shop will they be permitted to do so?

Will Jelly Belly stand firm on their statements? Or do they have jelly in their bellies?

We’ll see what happens this morning. Stay tuned.

67 Comments September 29, 2010

Day Two on the NOM California tour, Part 2: Fifth-graders, pork rinds and wild traffic chases

Part 1 detailing today’s earlier tour “stops”, if they can be called that, can be found here.

By Arisha Michelle Hatch

Stop #9: Colusa

The Colusa stop brought us to a Burger King parking lot where Vota Tus Valores was lucky enough to happen upon a group of six Latino fifth graders heading home after school.

NOMTourTracker talking to fifth-graders in Colusa

One boy didn’t know what a Senator was. Alfonso was shocked.

“Haven’t you taken civics or government?” Alfonso chided.

While Alfonso offered the kids a tour of the bus we finally had the opportunity to grab Karyme Lozano for a short chat (she’s been heavily guarded by Alfonso the last two days).

Arisha interviewing Karyme Lozano

We’ll post that video about her conversion soon.

Sidenote: can you imagine what the uproar would have been if a bus tour promoting LGBT values had invited a group of young unattended minors to tour their bus? But I digress.

Stop #10: Willows

In Willows, the Vota Tus Valores bus stopped just long enough to grab a beer and a bag of pork rinds (I’m not making this stuff up). We didn’t get a chance to try the pork rinds but they were apparently so good that Alfonso couldn’t bring himself to stop eating them during our interview. We will post that video as soon as well, although it may be difficult to hear my questions over his loud smacking.

To add to the ridiculousness of this sham tour, the Vota Tus Valores caravan of cars attempted to lose us. As we reported earlier, due to the unreliability of their website, we have now been forced to literally follow behind the bus to ensure that we meet them at the correct location.

After making a pit stop at a local gas station in Willows we proceeded to follow one of their advance vehicles while the bus followed behind us. The advance vehicle proceeded to take us on an abandoned country road. Meanwhile, the bus attempted to sneak onto the freeway.

I was forced to break my “no illegal u-turn” rule so that we could make it back onto the freeway before the bus disappeared into the distance.

“This is so much more fun than the Summer for Marriage tour!” Anthony shouted from the backseat.

Luckily, we are still right behind the bus, despite their sneaky attempts. The advance car made a u-turn quickly after us and is now back on the freeway leading the caravan.

Nice try.

We’re onto you, Vota Tus Valores, and we have no plans to stop following you anytime soon.

Stop #11: Davis

After a freeway game of cat and mouse that included attempts to lead the NOM Tour Trackers down an abandoned country road, as well as a quick freeway exit without signaling, the Vota Bus finally made it to UC-Davis, the site of Tuesday’s California gubernatorial debate.

Oddly enough, rather than driving onto campus where the activist base was, the Vota Bus opted to park in the middle of an intersection for 20 minutes until Davis police asked them to move – apparently parking a bus in a right hand turn lane just off the freeway with your hazard lights on creates safety concerns. They finally ended up in the parking lot.

Vota Tus Valores bus at UC-Davis

A few members of the advance team handed out literature to debate protesters.

Vota Tus Valores staff talking to UC-Davis gubernatorial debate attendees

After all this, can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

96 Comments September 28, 2010

Day Two on the NOM California tour, Part 1: The tour goes downhill (if that’s even possible)

Similar to yesterday’s travel-diary format, below are dispatches from the latest NOM tour, including photos from the road. Yesterday the tour’s attendance at its first five stops was 1, 1, 0, 15, and 0 (if you count staff dinner at On The Border a tour stop). Because of the six stops today and to get you the dispatches as soon as they’re available, below is Part 1 from Sacramento, Placerville, and Yuba City. Part 2 will be coming later tonight.

As you’ll see below, this tour is getting more ridiculous by the stop. Read on. -Adam

by Arisha Michelle Hatch

Stop #6: Sacramento

It’s only been one day and already the Vota Tus Valores organizers aren’t big fans of Courage Campaign Institute’s NOM Tour Trackers.  It’s difficult to articulate but the atmosphere was much more tense this morning at the State Capitol building in Sacramento.

Maybe they finally used “The Google” to figure out who we are?

Who knows?  I would love to be a fly on the wall in that bus.

Already progressive supporters are beginning to out-organize the tour.  The count in Sacramento was 9 to 4.

Vota Tus Valores' Sacramento stop

Equality supporters in Sacramento

We tried to interview Karyme Lozano but were denied because the tour was allegedly in a rush to leave. Karyme quickly returned to the bus that then sat parked for an additional 15 minutes as a Canadian reporter was allowed to board and interview Alfonso.

Alfonso, can we come on the bus for an interview?

Stop #7: Placerville

In Placerville, tour organizers didn’t even bother to get off the bus at the Placerville Amtrak station.

The advance team handed out fliers to two people waiting for transit, but by the time the bus arrived nobody was there.

No one at the Placerville stop

Crickets at the Placerville stop

Oh well, onto Yuba City I suppose.

Stop #8: Yuba City

We sat at the Gaucho Aquatic Park for 20 minutes in Yuba City waiting for the Vota Tus Valores bus to arrive before we realized that they weren’t coming.

We spoke to an administrator at the facility who said that she received an email from the group asking to use their parking lot a week or so ago. She informed them that they would have to request a permit from the Parks and Recreation department and never heard back from them.

“Maybe you have old information?” she asked.

“Well, they just updated their website this morning with the aquatic park location as their stop,” I said.

“Why would they do that?”

We’ve got the same question.

Frustrated by the no-show and in search of a gas station we coincidentally ran into the bus at a different location – where they stopped to grab food.

We have no idea where we’re headed. The Colusa stop, which is next on the agenda, was originally scheduled for 2:30, but it’s 2:40 pm now and we haven’t even left Yuba City. The bus chose to spend the next 15 minutes driving around a housing project. Unfortunately no one was outside to see the moving billboard because, as Alfonso “informed” us yesterday, “our people work.”

In light of the complete unreliability of their website, we’re now forced to literally follow the bus to each location (which is ridiculous). That’s us below.

NOM Tour Tracker literally following the NOM bus to see where they are going

139 Comments September 28, 2010

Adoption now official: NOM the proud parent of one over-the-top Facebook wall

This is also the same Louis Marinelli who wrote on his blog “A piece of paper gives you access to a series of benefits afforded to married couples but it doesn’t make you married.” Because your marriage isn’t a marriage unless Louis says it is. -Adam

Cross-posted at Good As You

By Jeremy Hooper

For months now we’ve been telling you how the National Organization For Marriage has been slowly incorporating Louis “gays want pedophilia, polygamy, and prostitution” Marinelli‘s online initiatives into their strategy. Now they have made it even more official, declaring that Louis’ often incendiary “Protect Man One Woman” Facebook page is now NOM’s organizational home:

Screen Shot 2010-09-28 At 9.55.25 Am

[NOM’s official Facebook wall]

So it’s now one billion percent official, folks: The incredibly eye-opening, “ex-gay”-backing “Protect Marriage: One Man, One Woman” Facebook page that was created by newfound NOM strategist (and bus driver) Louis Marinelli is NOM’s “new home on Facebook.” Just a reminder: This is the same Louis J. Marinelli who has used Paul Cameron’s research to say that “gays have shorter life spans,” who thinks that all gays are single even if they are married or in a committed relationship, who thinks that Peter LaBarbera and his fringe “Americans For Truth” group is merely “tell[ing] the truth about homosexuality,” who says that marriage equality is “a mockery and a hijacking of the civil rights movement,” who flat-out calls gays an abomination, who says that “Deviance” describes actions or behaviours that violate cultural norms – homosexuality is far from a cultural norm. Therefore, it is deviant,” who claims that “Homosexuality and gay marriage are wrong and harmful to society,” who thinks that “there shouldn’t be any recognition of homosexual relationships because that is saying that homosexuality is OK,” who says that “what they do is blantantly [sic] immoral. :) [smile his own], ” who has compared our unions to that which might exist between a sterile brother and sister, who resorts to blanket character assassination in saying that one should “#nevertrust activists of the homosexual agenda – they are deceitful people who care only about themselves and not what’s best for society,” and who has made an egregious video declaring that modern LGBT rights activists want the “3 P’s: Prostitution, pedophilia, and polygamy“:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60hOzuoYRFs]

This

Who needs a militant agenda? NOM has allowed selves (and message) to be hijacked [G-A-Y]

92 Comments September 28, 2010

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