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Filed under: NOM Exposed

Fred Karger calls for NOM to release its 2010 tax returns

By Adam Bink

Received via e-mail:

Screen Shot 2011-10-28 At 1.50.24 Pm

October 28, 2011

Mr. John Eastman
Chairman
National Organization for Marriage
2029 K Street NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC20006

Re: Missing NOM Tax Returns

Dear Mr. Eastman:

I am writing to alert you that the 2010 federal tax returns (990’s) of the National Organization for Marriage are missing. They were due in May 2011, and an extension was granted until October 15, 2011. We stopped by your Washington, DC office this week and there were no 990’s available for viewing as required by law. They are not up on your web site nor are they on Guidestar.

No IRS returns available again this year at the tiny national NOM office in Washington DC.

As the newly hired Chairman of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a distinguished law professor and a former law school dean, I had hoped that you came aboard NOM to perhaps try and give it some much needed honesty.
Who is NOM Trying to Protect?

NOM has not filed its tax returns on time with the Internal Revenue Service for both its 501©3 and 501©4 organizations for any of the four years since it began. I have had to visit your various NOM offices year after year to request them. Others and I have sent certified letters requesting your 990’s and have never received them. I finally had to file multiple complaints with the IRS to force your organization to release its tax returns.

I have been the most prominent watchdog of the National Organization for Marriage since June of 2008, soon after it was established. I watched NOM grow from nothing just over three years ago, to an operation working in over half the states on each and every anti-gay legal and political battle. NOM is also deeply involved in hundreds of state and federal candidate campaigns. Additionally, all your federal lobbying and other activities in Washington, DC rival that of the Family Research Council.
NOM Under Active Investigation in Maine

As I am sure you are aware, NOM and its former officers are under investigation by the state of Maine for money laundering on a referendum NOM put on the ballot in November 2009. The active investigation of the National Organization for Marriage by the State Ethics Commission and the State Attorney General is in its third year. I filed the original complaint and testified three times in Maine to make sure that the truth comes out. Only then will we finally learn where all the millions and millions of dollars NOM brings in each year to its two organizations actually comes from.

You can’t blame me for being suspicious, since NOM has sued 23 states to try and keep the names of all your funders secret. It was, however, gratifying to see NOM lose its California case this week in federal court (the same case you subpoenaed http://californiansagainsthate.blogspot.com/2009/09/fred-karger-subpoenaed-by-nom.html me in). CLICK HERE: http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_19159246

So, as NOM’s new Chairman, I am writing you in the hope that finally there may be a modicum of integrity at the National Organization for Marriage. We hope that someone with your distinguished record will act in accordance with the law; unlike your predecessors Robby George and Maggie Gallagher.

We assume that you will promptly obey federal law and file and release both sets of tax returns.

I anxiously await your reply.

Best regards,

Fred Karger
Founder

cc: Interested Parties

18 Comments October 28, 2011

Why NOM threatens more than just LGBT Americans, and how their tactics might mean the downfall of a millennia old discipline

This post was submitted as a guest piece for publication (if you’d like to submit a guest piece at any time, please e-mail it to prop8trial at couragecampaign dot org. Make sure to include a byline, any links if you have any, and a title. If you can include everything in HTML, even better).

The post comes from Bryce, who identifies himself as a PhD student at Georgetown University whose dissertation focuses on gay and lesbian politics. Thanks for the submission Bryce! -Adam

By Bryce Myers

Recently, Jeremy Hooper posted here at Prop8TrialTracker.com on the National Organization for Marriage’s (herein: NOM) use of dubious polling methods to advance their claim that the majority of Americans actually oppose marriage equality. I agree with the issues presented on the website, and there are two reasons I take issue with NOM’s history of dubious polling. (In this post, I include an open letter I have written to NOM).

Before I discuss them, however, I want to observe one key thing: NOM’s tactics offend me—not as an activist, nor as a gay man—but as a scientist. I have dedicated my life to advancing the tradition of academics in America and scholarly integrity. NOM’s recent tactics have set this project back greatly, by infusing a worthy public discourse on the purpose and nature of marriage with what some have already likened to “academic malpractice.” In short, their dishonesty in political discourse—a tactic which is more common to authoritarian regimes than to a pluralist political society—is dangerous to those who make a career of teaching politics, and to a nation which thrives on a civil, and well-informed, political society.

Another cautionary word is that I expect that, given my personal views, some would call me biased. But this is hardly a concern given that this critique is of a group which has hired a man to do their polling who is SO biased that, when asked questions about his methodology, he refers the person doing the asking to a book he has written on Mormonism and advancing the anti-LGBT cause. However biased I may be perceived to be, I will never fail to defend my claims, nor will I attempt to defend them by essentially conceding that I cannot do so and that I am, indeed, biased. My love of a tradition as old as mankind itself will not allow me to do these things.

The first way in which we can observe NOM’s reliance on subterfuge is through a Huffington Post article, which calls into question the methodology used on a poll relied upon by Deseret News in order to claim that the majority of Americans are averse to the idea of equality. Dr. Lawrence is a fixture with the National Organization for Marriage, and his polls frequently come out with very counter-intuitive results. When people seek to understand why it is that the results seem to contradict common knowledge, they usually find one of two things. First, those persons might find that Dr. Lawrence has used the know-how of one of the best educated political scientists to undermine the goals of the discipline from which he has gotten so much. In the past, he has over-sampled segments of the population which are known to be less amenable to the LGBT rights project. This engineers results which are less favorable to LGBT persons (this is explored in greater detail below). Second, those persons might find (as the Huffington Post finds) that Lawrence, and those for whom he conducts polls, will not answer questions about his methodology. This is equally detrimental to the field of political science. I have recently noticed that it shocks people to be told that, in the scientific community, it is considered a grave faux-pas (not to mention a HUGE red-flag) when someone does not divulge their polling methodology, and/or provide their data. But this should not really be surprising. One can make or break a career on the science they conduct, and others may want to make contributions based on their results. The sheer gravity of those tests, not to mention the inevitable desire—which accompanies ground-breaking research; something that every scientist aspires to accomplish—can only mean that those results must be replicable. On the first day of class, every political science graduate student learns at least one thing: empirical research is meaningless unless you make the data available for replication. And throughout her years of study, that student will hear cautionary tale after cautionary tale of people whose careers were stopped dead in their tracks because they refused to make their data available. It is for this reason that almost every professor has a “Data” section on his or her website, where their past data is available for public use; and, every professor will provide data which they have not already made so available. That Dr. Lawrence would conduct a poll and not make the data available would, within the discipline of political science, be akin to him having never done the poll at all.

Second, even if NOM’s refusal to make their polling data fair and available did not cast doubt on the validity of their findings, it would still hurt the discipline of political science. Let’s assume for the moment that the findings are fair and accurate—an assumption which no person should make in this situation. If that IS the case, then LGBT rights groups and NOM alike should both reflexively ask the same question: Why are our polls getting different results? The only way to answer this is to pore through the data. When you have polls that ask the same question, the same way, to the same people, and get two different answers you start an arduous process of analysis. You regress, cross-tab, and dissect that data six-ways from Sunday! Who answered which way? Was one group over-sampled? Under-sampled? Did the timing of the question matter? What did they have to say about other issues? The list goes on and on. But NOM did not do this. Instead, they relied on Deseret News to just say: “Here is the data, we must be right, they must be wrong.” This makes no sense and, as a result, is not particularly compelling. In order for NOM to prove that Americans are—as they claim—allergic to the idea of LGBT persons being seen as equals, they would need to go into the data and explore it in detail. They would need to make the argument, at length, that previous polls—the preponderance of which contradicts their findings—missed something SPECIFIC which NOM has since corrected. The fact that they downplay this incredibly important process of intellectual exploration (not to mention, the equally important process of validation) is depressing to someone who has pledged to spend his life passing on the tradition of higher education in our country.

And this is not the first time NOM—and Gary Lawrence—has falsified or manipulated polling data. On February 17, 2011, while I was studying at a different institution, I wrote an open letter to Brian Brown asking him to be more ethical in his polling practices. The letter (found here) made two key assertions: 1) NOM falsely claimed bias in legitimate polls—threatening those persons’ reputations—for its own personal gain, and 2) its alternative question failed to meet basic, objective, scientific standards. NOM was push-polling. Just months later, in New York, NOM released another equally flawed poll. In this poll, they sampled a small population, which is a frequent practice for people who get their desired results and want to stop further polling, lest they find out they were mistaken. For smaller samples, the confidence intervals (two numbers, which tell us between which points we may be confident in our results) shrink, meaning that it is harder and harder to be confident in our results. Indications of error become weaker and weaker with smaller samples. In addition, NOM over-sampled older Americans, which all other polls (which they were claiming to dispute) indicated were least likely to support LGBT rights. The principle is simple, if I look at Poll A, Poll B, and Poll C, and they say that all people love kittens except a certain demographic, and then I do Poll D and only ask that demographic, then I will get the opposite result. Then, I can say “people actually HATE kittens!” NOM did just this, using their engineered results to claim that the original polls were wrong; however, if those polls HAD been wrong, then NOM’s strategic sampling would have failed. Thus, far from disputing the results of existing polls, NOM actually confirmed them by using those polls’ results as a guide on how to fudge their own results.

NOM is in a precarious place. As a social movement, they are—by all objective standards—failing. A whole host of polls indicate that a vast majority of voters (even those who oppose marriage equality) consider marriage equality to be inevitable. They have suffered stunning defeats in New York where marriage equality is now legal; in California where a bill, which they had hoped to stop, missed the deadline for petitions to send the matter to the ballot; and in Courts of Appeal who have repeatedly said that they can no longer protect secret donors who seek to circumvent the stated principles of the US Constitution. And the only recent claims of victory that they can muster regard a special election for the US House of Representative, which NOT A SINGLE academic—even those opposed to marriage equality—seem to believe had much of anything to do with the NATIONAL mood toward marriage equality. How do they deal with this? Do they do what others do when their backs are against the wall, and channel it into the energy it takes to come from behind? No. They lie. They make up polls. They engineer data. They lie to the American people, they lie to their supporters, and they lie to themselves. Indeed, if the statements they have made in the past year were made under oath, then Brian Brown and Maggie Gallagher would be sporting prison jumpsuits for having committed perjury. There is no other way to say it: they have committed a sin (literally and figuratively; for a group which so frequently relies on support from the religious, one would imagine that they would be more familiar with the maxim of the Ninth Commandment: “Thou Shalt Not Lie”) in knowingly, and intentionally deceiving people. Any other way of describing their actions is merely sugar-coating reality.

But worse than their lying—which can be refuted through simple observations of the truth—they are setting back the project of teaching future generations. One must wonder if these means will justify the ends when NOM finds itself arguing, in the future, with a group of scientists who will simply falsify results to prove whatever point they may wish to make. NOM would, then, undoubtedly cry foul, but they would have no reason to do so. In this hypothetical, those individuals would only be holding themselves to the same standard to which NOM currently holds itself.

If NOM cannot make its argument honestly, then perhaps it is not an argument worth making. But I suspect that a man who offered torn families and victims of hate crimes hugs instead of help in changing the cultural milieu which produces them would never see things that way. Likewise, a woman who wrote a column claiming to have soul searched her way to wondering what role she plays in a society which looks down on gays and lesbians, only to contribute to it in a most acerbic way not more than a week later, would also probably not see the value in making an argument with integrity or not making it at all. But for the rest of us, NOM has failed to see that they must pass the limits of making a civil argument that contributes to the American democratic process, in order to do what they think is “right.” And, perhaps, no matter what twists and turns the fight for equality may take in the future, no step will be more crucial than the first step of observing that NOM has failed before it has even begun to fight. If we do not see things this way, the losers in this battle may well be those who value our American democratic process.

30 Comments October 26, 2011

Days and Slights: This Week in NOM (Oct. 16 – Oct. 22)

Cross-posted at Good As You

by Jeremy Hooper

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Dear NOM Watcher,

6A00D8341C503453Ef0154349F168B970C-21Sandra Lee is a self-made businesswoman, famous television personality, Christian believer (who has even been known to go on the “700 Club”), strong supporter of LGBT rights, and the longtime partner of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. But to the National Organization For Marriage, Lee is simply “the woman [Gov. Cuomo] does not love enough to marry.”

6A00D8341C503453Ef0154349F168B970C-21 Diana Taylor is an accomplished, Columbia MBA graduate whose private sector work includes stints with Smith Barney and Keyspan Energy. Taylor’s public sector career includes roles as the Deputy Secretary to Gov. George Pataki and as the New York State Superintendent of Banks. She’s also rumored to be mulling a U.S. Senate run. But again, none of these bio lines matter to NOM. Instead, that organization defines Taylor only by the supposed inaction of her domestic partner, Mayor Mike Bloomberg, as they label Bloomberg the man who “does not love the woman he lives with enough to marry her.”

I’m not making this up. Both of these abject claims come directly from NOM President Brian Brown’s weekly e-blast, with the idea being that neither of these high-ranking elected officials are fit to speak on civil marriage equality since neither are currently married. Never mind that all four participants in this crude slighting have been married in the past. Never mind that NOM staffers presumably have no fly-on-the-wall insight into why these four have chosen to channel their freedoms in the way that they have. Never mind that respect for marriage should also include respect for the choice to not marry. Never mind that NOM has its own high-ranking personalities who have gone through periods of life where they presumably loved deeply without marriage being in the picture. The only reality that matters is the one where both Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Cuomo stood against NOM’s political goals. Because of that fact alone, both men (and their significant others) are now to be cruelly flogged. Per NOM’s “values” work, both gentlemen are fit to have their love lives publicly questioned.

There is no reason to mince words here: This is truly nasty behavior. It is personal, it is hostile, and it is completely beyond the pale. And as we are coming to know more every week: It is the National Organization For Marriage, circa 2011 America.

Now onto the rest…

 

Four pledged allegiance to one giant red flag!

Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese brought the so-called NOM Marriage Pledge back into light this week, sending a letter to the four GOP presidential candidates who signed on to NOM’s pledge — Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Santorum — and telling them quite plainly: “You were duped.” Because let’s get real: They were/are/will be duped, so long as they get in bed with this organization.

The HRC prez focused specifically on the pledge’s incredibly shady call for an incoming President to create a commission for the purposes of “investigating” alleged harassment of “traditional marriage” supporters. And it makes total sense that he chose this focus, since (a) the harassment is little more than the product of NOM’s spin and (b) the call to “investigate” through some sort of new commission harkens back to eras that went bye bye for a reason. That NOM would be so bold as to put out this call is one thing. That Republican hopefuls would gladly sign on? Well that deserves our continued attention!

To read Joe’s letter in full, check out this post.

 

Turning 18

Another week, another direct mail piece aiming to turn a certain state’s election into a referendum on marriage. This time, it’s Iowa’s 18th Senate District that gets 6A00D8341C503453Ef0154349F168B970C-21the “honor.” In that District’s special race (held Nov. 8), NOM is backing GOP candidate Cindy Golding, who has vowed to do everything she can to overturn the state’s benign, non-controversial marriage equality law. Golding’s opponent is Democrat Liz Mathis, who’s committed to keeping marriage off the ballot and out of the center of this election cycle, where so many crucial issues should come to the fore. So of course here come’s NOM, rarin’ to attack Mathis for this or that or the other while glorifying Golding for no rationale greater than her promise to put already-decided, should-be-settled minority rights before the whims of a majority vote.

NOM has already thrown considerable cash at the matter, and they’ll surely toss forth more in the coming two-and-a-half weeks. But no matter the outcome, voters in Iowa’s 18th District will be worse off for having to waste even a second on this, a discriminatory distraction that’s even denser than the cast stones propelling it forward. Or backwards, as it were.

 

“Activist [facts]”

There were also two big court losses for NOM this week. [1] Washington state: U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle (a George W. Bush appointee) rejected the popular NOM claim that their supporters are being harassed and intimidated, determining that there’s no valid reason to not release the name of those who petitioned for the purpose of repealing the state’s domestic partnership law. [2] California: NOM and their “Protect Marriage” allies lost an attempt to hide campaign finance records, with U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr. deciding that the public interest beats out NOM’s baseless claims.

Both were direct smack downs of the “we’re the shunned ones” strategy that NOM, over the past year or two, has placed at the top of its deck. Both of them were further court stings for an organization that has quite a bit of trouble in arenas where facts earn a premium. Oh, and both are also further justification for the Joe Solmonese letter that I referenced earlier in this here column.

My NOM Exposed buddy Kevin Nix has more here.

 

Viki knocks, NOM answers

And finally, let’s end where we began: With NOM’s weekly e-blast. In that same piece where Brian Brown so callously condemned certain citizens’ unadorned ring fingers, he also took the opportunity to make a hero out of someone whose stated objects run far beyond the wedding band.

6A00D8341C503453Ef0154349F168B970C-21That “hero”: Viki Knox, the New Jersey public school teacher who decided to use her Facebook page to denounce “immoral” and “ungodly” gay people and their “perverted spirit(s).” Except of course Brian didn’t tell supporters the full breadth of Viki’s comments, which included comparing pro-gay acceptance to someone “encouraging an eight year old girl to be a call girl/escort,” repeatedly calling gays “unnatural,” and declaring that this is all part of what she, a teacher, chooses to “teach and preach.” No, no — in true NOM fashion, Brian danced around VIki’s words, saying that she simply “called for kind and loving treatment of gay people.” Read her comments in full here and see who you believe.

It’s obvious: Brian and NOM are pushing the Viki Knox story in hopes that she can become their next “Marriage Anti-Defamation” poster child. Which okay, fair enough, as far as the tactic goes. But if and when they hitch their wagons to this sort of thing, they’re going to have to take the fully steamed up engine and not just the parts that they hope will drive their contrived cause.

 

16 Comments October 22, 2011

Prop 8: Judge rules against NOM, ProtectMarriage.com in campaign finance case

By Adam Bink

From the AP:

Supporters of the 2008 ballot measure that outlawed same-sex marriage in California have lost a lawsuit that sought to block their past and future campaign finance records from public view.

A federal judge in Sacramento on Thursday ruled against ProtectMarriage.com and the National Organization for Marriage, saying the two groups failed to prove they should be exempted from the state’s campaign disclosure laws.

Mollie Lee, a lawyer in the San Francisco City Attorney’s office, says U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr. ruled from the bench after a brief hearing and plans to issue a written opinion later.

The two groups, which sponsored and helped finance the gay marriage ban known as Proposition 8, filed the lawsuit in January 2009, claiming their donors were harassed after their names appeared on the Secretary of State’s web site.

 

35 Comments October 20, 2011

Days and Slights: This Week in NOM (Sep. 25 – Oct. 1)

Cross-posted at Good As You

By Jeremy Hooper

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Dear NOM Watchers,

Next week, when conservatives from across the nation gather in D.C. for the Family Research Council’s annual Values Voter Summit, attendees will have two opportunities to hear NOM representatives do their thing. The first opp. comes in the form of a panel oh-so-cleverly titled “Straight Talk on Gay ‘Marriage’” (second set of quotes their own), where a representative from U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, a president from the so-called Maryland Families Alliance, and a former pro football player (seriously, that’s the only credential they give him) will join NOM president Brian Brown for some good ol’ fashioned “marriage protecting.” The second opp. will be a breakout session titled “Our Turn To Lead: Why Young Conservatives Must Engage To Shape The Debate,” at which Catholic blogger turned NOM strategist Thomas Peters will join other less-grey-haired activists for some thought-food on how conservatives might convince today’s more tolerant young folks to drop their support for things like marriage equality once they age out of American Apparel’s target demographic.

What I find most frustrating about these kinds of conference strategy sessions is not what will or will not be said. We’ve heard it all, we know their buckets are abounding with holes, and nothing they say has the power to intimidate those of us on the side of truth, love, peace, fairness, and growing poll numbers. So no, it’s going to take much more than a preferential pep rally to cause my wedding-ring-adorned hand to quiver. And in fact, I kind of love it when they talk, as foot-in-mouth disease seems to be particularly communicable among social conservatives this fall.

No, no — What annoys me is how par-for-the-course these panels are. Meaning: I knew without even looking at the Family Research Council’s schedule that there would be at least one plenary session dedicated to stifling my life, love, and fair recognition thereof. Because there are always these kinds of panels at these kinds of conferences. We all just accept that. The modern conservative moment has drilled into us the idea one cannot allow a GOP elephant into a banquet hall without also hosting his cousins Banner and Bias. Such unfortunate societal limitations have become as much a part of the modern Republican party as have over-enthusiastic Ron Paul supporters, Fargo-accented female superstars, gay conservatives, and “we’re not worthy“-style knee drops incited by the mere mention of the name Ronald Reagan.

It’s truly sad that one of our two major political parties has become such a warm and accepting incubator for this kind of thing, to the point where any non-inclusion at a leading party conference is an oddity, not a norm. And I don’t mean “sad” in a lefty, “Republicans are sad,” pejorative sort of way — I mean to say that it truly makes me sad that this is the political reality in which we must still live.

And speaking of sad political realities in which we must still live: Let’s move on to some of what we saw form NOM this week, shall we?

Buell’s hit

This week, NOM unveiled the second would-be martyr in its truly ill-conceived “Marriage Anti-Defamation” campaign. The new selection is Jerry Buell, the Florida teacher whose local public school system investigated his conduct after heScreen Shot 2011-09-26 At 10.16.49 Am chose to go on his Facebook wall and quite callously condemn gay people and their right to marry.

To remind you, Mr. Buell wrote that when he saw New York had legalized same-sex marriage he “almost threw up,” before instructing society to not “insult a man and woman’s marriage by throwing it in the same cesspool as same-sex whatever!” He added “God will not be mocked,” for good religious measure, and then asked, whether rhetorically or because he was in search of a specific date and time: “When did this sin become acceptable???” (three question marks his own)

Now, it’s pretty darn easy for most people to see why these comments, once they went out in the major way that Facebook things tend to do in this modern world, raised some concerns with a public school system. This is especially true when one considers that even Mr. Buell’s own Liberty Counsel attorney admitted that Mr. Buell has raised other church/state concerns through conduct completely unrelated to his comments on marriage. Free speech is great and valued, but it doesn’t afford anyone an entitlement to scrutiny-less employment.

Also, it’s pretty darn easy to see the callousness in Mr. Buell’s words, regardless of where you stand on marriage. “Cesspool”? “Vomit”? This isn’t highbrow politicking here. In fact, to his credit, longtime conservative Chuck Colson — no stranger to incendiary comments himself — actually chastised Buell’s words for lacking in style and civility. On this, a generalized repudiation of what Buell said and how he said it, large swaths of us should be able to find agreement.

But not NOM. Not our dear NOM. Not only did the organization make a video applauding Buell and his supposed bravery against “defamation,” but NOM president Brian Brown actually went so far as to hail the teacher as a — wait for this one — “AMERICAN HERO”! I’m not making this up — In NOM’s weekly newsletter (the original “Days and Slights” column), Brown actually ascribed that label to Buell. As if what, future American children will turn to their “Icons of American History” coloring books in curious wonderment, asking their parents what crayon to use for both Betsy Ross’ needles and Jerry Buell’s cesspools? Does that sound like a likely patriot portrait to you? Nah, me neither.

The Buell video was a bit of surprise to me, actually. I told you earlier in the week that the New York town clerks who refused to marry same-sex couples would be the next video stars, based on Maggie Gallagher’s own statement that the clerks’ video(s) would be released on October 6. But then again, perhaps I should have known that there would be an interim vid, considering how NOM’s first “Anti-Defamation” video led pro-equality voices to haul out the boatload of reasons why Frank Turek is one of the most laughable choices from whence to launch an “Anti-Defamation” effort and led YouTubers to reject the NOM video at an 86%-14% clip. It’s no surprise they’d want to move on as quickly as possible!

(*Though as you can see form the above screengrab, the like/dislike breakdown isn’t going much better for them this time around)

Highway NOMmery

Another development came via one of NOM’s favorite artforms: Threatening billboards. As I’ve told NOM Watchers several times before: NOM actually launched its entire national profile on such a campaign, likening Screen Shot 2011-09-26 At 10.16.49 Ama Massachusetts state lawmaker to both Benedict Arnold and Judas Iscariot simply because he voted against NOM’s wishes. Since then, there have been other campaigns warning this politician or that voter about the supposed perils of supporting equality. If every Michelangelo must have his or her own Sistine Chapel, then NOM’s artisans seem to have chosen overhead roadside canvas as their intimidatory medium.

These latest billboards are pretty weird, warning various New York state politicians that they are “next.” There’s no context provided for why these politicians are marked, there’s simply the “you’re next” warning and a link to NOM’s “Let The People Vote” website. The whole display surely means very little to most locals. And considering New York is not even a direct ballot state nor a region where a marriage amendment has any reasonable chance of growing legs, those New Yorkers who do check out NOM’s “Let The People Vote” site are only going to be more confused.

But since when has fleshing out fact ever been in NOM’s organizational interest? The obvious goal here is to seem tough and powerful both in New York and elsewhere. Especially elsewhere, in fact, with the hope being that electeds in other states will be scared by the possibility of having their own name targeted in the not-too-distant future.

Like so many NOM projects, this billboard effort is politicking at its worst. The boards may use the word “next,” but they are anything but progress.

‘Change’ agents

One shocking development this week was seeing how fully various NOM employees came out for the scientifically repudiated idea that gays can or should change. Being largely Catholic, most of the NOM wording skewed more towards the Vatican-preferred notion of celibacy than it did towards full-blown reparative therapy. But in four separate instances this week, four of NOM’s top staffers threw a bone to the generalized “ex-gay” movement, proving how much beyond marriage NOM’s agenda really goes.

First the new guy, Damian Goddard, the man who is working with Maggie on that silly new “Anti-Defamation” project. Damian’s “ex-gay” comment was actually made a few months back, but just came to prominent light this week. On his Twitter account this summer, Damian wrote:

Screen Shot 2011-09-26 At 10.16.49 Am

“Courage,” for those less versed in LGBT speak, is an organization geared towards helping LGBT Catholics “change.” Or again, being Catholic, the goal is more along the lines of stifling “behavior” than it is “praying away the gay.” But it’s all one big bird of the same orientation-denying feather.

Then there’s Maggie Gallagher. In her weekly syndicated column (which was a doozy in and of itself), Maggie closed with a supposed answer to the misplaced question of why gay equality activists supposedly shun Christians, with Maggie positing it’s “So that legitimate pity for the gay man, and his suffering as a child, can be turned against the moral authority of chastity, for that system of sexual ethics that begins not with our desires but with our responsibility to discipline and elevate them.” If there’s any other way of interpreting Maggie’s words about “chastity” and responsibility to discipline desires than to see them as a direct call to gays, then it’s lost on me. And considering I’ve already documented Maggie calling homosexuality an “unfortunate thing” and “at a minimum, a sexual dysfunction much as impotence or infertility,” as well as suggesting gays “can always control their behavior” and calling on a sitting President to give more research dollars to “ex-gay” research, I really don’t think I’m missing anything finer or more nuanced in her latest call.

Next up: Jennifer Roback Morse of NOM’s affiliate Ruth Institute. On her Catholic radio program, Morse went into a long explanation about how Catholics like herself don’t “accept the category of gayness,” basically saying that we are all just men and women who are meant to be heterosexual, regardless of our “attractions.” It’s a truly startling admission from such a top NOMmer, and I really encourage you to listen and consider her thoughts in full. Consider them an USE THEM!

Then finally and most formally: President Brian Brown. In his weekly newsletter (yes, that again), Brian wrote a very lengthy push for a highly agenda-laden “study” conducted by two Christian college professors. In his push, Brian spoke of “managing sexual desire” and “faith in human freedom and human reason,” and called it “heartening” to see “motivated religious individuals in this [study] sample who sought to bring their sexual behavior to conform to their religious ideals succeeded—some by changing their self-reported sexual orientation, even more by exercising the difficult virtue of chastity.” His words put faith before science and agendas before nature’s truths. And like all of the others in this category, Brian words are proof positive that, if left to its own organizational devices, a NOM-ruled world would not be one where gays’ ring fingers are the only targeted body part.

National Organization for [limiting public schools even when detached from] Marriage

And finally, let me close out with yet another development that has all but eliminated my ability to any longer be shocked by NOM. On Wednesday, when writing about incoming NOM Board Chair John Eastman’s own personal advocacy against inclusive teaching in California, I said I doubted NOM itself would come onboard such a campaign. As I wrote at the time: “(a) going after such fair public school practices would prove that they want to stop more than marriage, and (b) going after such public school decisions in a state that doesn’t currently have marriage equality would belie their popular campaign logic positioning same-sex marriage as the one pivot point on which such inclusive teaching hinges.” Even with an increasingly less pragmatic NOM (see above), I still didn’t think they’d go after fair teaching practices that were fairly passed and enacted by a fairly elected legislature and governor.

But then they did, via an “urgent message” to supporters. Directly likening this new effort against LGBT-inclusive schools to NOM’s own work in the Prop 8 petitioning process, President Brian Brown spoke about this new “critically important opportunity to decide what is taught to your school-age children.” Brian hauled out the usual fear lines about how this “would force schools to teach students (even kindergartners!) about homosexuality, bisexuality and transgenderism,” before guiding NOM followers on how they can downloadd, fill out, and properly submit their own petition to bring another divisive ballot initiative to The Golden State. Brian even told NOMmers to “take petitions with you to church on Sunday.

So with this, NOM has completely clobbered its key talking point. Here we are talking about California, a state that doesn’t currently have marriage equality, thanks in large part to NOM’s own handiwork. So if anything, California’s FAIR Education Act shows that marriage equality is not the pivot point for fair teaching — LGBT existences themselves are! But yet NOM, an organization that makes threats of inclusive education the ace fear card in every campaign’s hole, is petitioning against such public school practices even when they are wholly independent of marriage?! That proves right there, yet again, that marriage is not really their big issue. NOM, like so many other socially conservative groups, is working towards a world that continues to position LGBT people as some sort of unsavory secret that’s only fit for adult eyes and ears — and only after said adults have been properly inundated with as much stereotype, exaggeration, and downright untruth that an uninformed society can foist upon them.

But the beauty part for us? When they try to work the “marriage will lead to kids being taught about gays” lines in the next state (and you know they will), we now have lock solid proof that the marriage element is a red herring. NOM is going to oppose us because they are going to oppose us, period. If we learn from what they are now handing us on a silver platter — and I mean really learn and grow our pushback from it — then we might just oppose them right out of business!

Happy October, my dears. Until next week,

-Jeremy

26 Comments October 2, 2011

NOM seems to want to be a hate group. Let’s help them out.

A guest piece from AnonyGrl! -Adam

By Vienna Hagen (aka AnonyGrl)

Our friend Pam at Pam’s House Blend brought up a very interesting subject yesterday in this post.

She talks about the National Organization for Marriage, a group we all know and despise, but she suggests two very powerful ways that we can combat the evil that they do.  We often beat our heads against the wall with NOM, attempting to address their points individually on their blog, but finding that no matter how clear, honest and polite we are about it, they censor us as they know that their audience can’t be allowed to even think that we might be reasonable people, because that would sink NOM’s entire “gays are, according to God, evil and should be treated as second class citizens or worse” message.  And as we all know, that message has been growing more vitriolic as NOM has lost battle after battle in this war.

Comments on NOM’s blog, not only from supporters, for whom NOM cannot really be held responsible (well, except for the fact that they do not edit them out) but recently more and more from NOM themselves, have veered from NOM’s stated position of “we support gay rights, but not gay marriage” into the realm of outright and expressed support of anti-gay hate rallies, and civic and religious leaders who call for death, imprisonment or deportation of people whose only “crime” is homosexuality.  Pam reminds us that one of NOM’s favorite politicians, New York State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr., “said that ‘worthy to death’ is what God says about ‘those who practice such things.’”  She correctly points out that NOM spends most of its time demonizing gay persons, and I note that they recently do so almost to the exclusion of the purpose stated in their charter, that of supporting marriage.

It certainly follows that the clear and obvious response to a group that insists on painting themselves as a hate group is to oblige them by asking the Southern Poverty Law Center to certify that desire and add them to the SPLC ‘s list of hate groups.  Pam says:

Every time you see apparent evidence that NOM is a hate group, communicate it to the Southern Poverty Law Center.  Bookmark that contact page.  Send both past and current examples of NOM’s apparent hate group activities.  Include links to sources.    The SPLC’s Mark Potok has said that its definition of a hate group includes groups and people who suggest that an entire group of human beings are inferior.  He has pointed out that SPLC does not think that free speech should be suppressed, but that the hate group designation is a “calling out of the liars, the demonizers, the propagandists.”  Potok says that while the groups themselves may not advocate violence, their hate speech has “driven people and will continue to drive people to murder.”

I agree.  While I would urge caution, when reporting, to consider Mark Potok’s point that free speech should not be suppressed, I do think that even as they are expressing themselves, we can point to the fact that we object to and are harmed by the contents of what they say.  Know that an SPLC designation of a group as a hate group does not infringe on their right to say what they will, but it does help to demonstrate to others who might not be aware that WHAT such a group says is damaging, hurtful and downright cruel at times.

And know that speech is not always free.  An organization that provides a platform for others to speak on has the right to edit, control or limit what is said on that platform.  For instance, we do not have the right to go to a rally run by NOM and grab their microphones and speak against them.  As you well know, we can’t even go to their blog and express a contrary opinion most days of the week.  We do not have the right to stand up in church and rail against Christianity and we can be removed for doing so.  And as it turns out, NOM does not have the right to push its brand of anti-gay discrimination on Facebook without an answer from us.  Facebook has specific terms of use that all users agree to before being granted use of Facebook’s platform.  Some of those rules are:

You will not bully, intimidate, or harass any user.

You will not post content that: is hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.

You will not use Facebook to do anything unlawful, misleading, malicious, or discriminatory.

and

If you violate the letter or spirit of this Statement, or otherwise create risk or possible legal exposure for us, we can stop providing all or part of Facebook to you.

To that end, Pam notes that Scott Rose has created a petition asking Mark Zuckerberg to ban NOM.  In both cases she recommends finding “an example of where NOM is engaging in malicious, misleading or discriminatory communications about LGBTers”, bookmarking it, and attaching the information both in the petition, and when sending a complaint to the SPLC.  Goodness knows there are plenty of such examples to choose from, and more occur daily.

So, let’s use these very good avenues to let people know about NOM’s truly hateful aims, and to ask that they stop being allowed to promote them in what should be a safe space for open and non violent communication.

27 Comments October 1, 2011

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