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Filed under: NOM Tour Tracker-California

Final day of the NOM California tour: If at first you don’t succeed, try again 37 times and you might corral a small crowd of Latino/a people

Hey, it took 10 days and nearly 40 stops, but Vota Tus Valores actually managed to stumble upon a small crowd of Latino voters (although it’s hard to not do on Olvera Street, and it’s up in the air as to how many are actually of voting age), and Alfonso managed to bring himself to talk to us. Will miracles never cease? -Adam

By Arisha Michelle Hatch

Stop #38: Los Angeles

It was raining when we arrived at the Panorama City Mall and the Vota Bus was nowhere to be found.

Security guards informed us that the event had been canceled. Apparently, the mall told them they weren’t welcome after being informed of the political nature of the event.

Too bad. There were tons of Latinos present to engage. If Vota Tus Valores was serious about voter engagement, they could have at least sent organizers over to hand out literature, sans the bus, but I digress.

At the Olvera Street stop in Los Angeles, Vota Tus Valores organizers attracted a crowd with music from Alan Marco (previously incorrectly reported as Alan Campo) and Rafael Valazquez led a mariachi band. In what was likely their most successful stop to date, approximately 22 people looked on (many Latino) stopped to enjoy the music as Vota Bus organizers handed out literature.

Largest crowd to date for a Vota Tus Valores stop

A group of Latino high school seniors were on a field trip scavenger hunt and stopped to hear the music. We got a chance to interview them about their views on Latino values (we’ll upload ASAP) and I will say that the future looks bright.

High schoolers and equality supporters in LA

And in a surprise move, Alfonso Aguilar broke his vow of silence to speak briefly with us on-camera.

IMG00369-20101006-1312

Although Allegra Huebert-Hewell and Thomas Peters, both organizers for the tour, attempted on several occasions to rush the interview we were able to discuss a few topics with Alfonso, including the wave of recent teen gay suicides, the overall “success” of the tour, marriage equality, Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell and the assault of our videographer, Anthony Ash, in Santa Ana on Monday.

We’ll upload that video as soon as we can, as well.

Now, Alfonso that wasn’t so bad was it?

You may now resume your vacation. Sorry to rain on your parade these past 10 days.

82 Comments October 6, 2010

One step too far: NOM’s Ruth Institute is violating federal tax-exempt status

By Adam Bink

A few hours ago I wrote about Jennifer Roback-Morse’s appearance on the NOM California tour. Here’s the video again:

The mistake Jennifer made is that the Ruth Institute is supporting an electoral effort to elect Carly Fiorina. Jennifer sayeth:

We’re very glad to be part of this electoral effort.

And on that, and their involvement thus far, we’re calling them out. The following press release was just sent out by Courage and HRC:

National Organization for Marriage (NOM) Charitable Organization Violates Tax-Exempt Status by Campaigning for Senate Candidate

Ruth Institute, Part of NOM’s Marriage Education Fund, Ignores Laws by Supporting Carly Fiorina in California

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, and the Courage Campaign today called on the National Organization for Marriage, or NOM, to explain why its tax-exempt charitable organization, the Ruth Institute – a project of NOM’s Marriage Education Fund – is violating federal laws by intervening on behalf of a candidate for elected office.

This past Monday, Ruth Institute President Jennifer Roback Morse spoke on behalf of her organization at a campaign stop of the “Vota Tus Valores” bus tour, a NOM-backed independent expenditure in support of California Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina in San Diego. At the campaign event Morse talked about the role of the Ruth Institute, held up the organization’s signage and closed her remarks by saying, “We’re very glad to be part of this electoral effort.” (Watch the Courage Campaign’s video of Morse speaking at event.)

Morse’s campaign appearance followed a NOM-issued press release titled “National Organization for Marriage and Ruth Institute Join Bus Tour Supporting Carly Fiorina in California.” The release states that “Brian Brown, president of NOM, and Jennifer Roback Morse, president of The Ruth Institute, a project of NOM’s Marriage Education Fund, will both be supporting the bus tour as it makes its way around California.” In addition to supporting Fiorina, the NOM charitable group has also illegally participated in a campaign to elect California judges.

Pursuant to the federal tax code, a charitable organization – which is permitted to receive tax deductible contributions – may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates. Violation of this prohibition can result in stiff penalties against the organization and its officials as well as potential revocation of its tax exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service. Federal and state election laws also require such organizations to disclose their campaign expenditures.

“One has to wonder if the Ruth Institute is nothing more than a sham charitable organization designed to use tax-deductible contributions to help secretly fund NOM’s election activities,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “As usual, it’s win at any cost with NOM, which continues to make up the rules, with no regard – and no respect – for federal or state laws.”

“Much as its actions may suggest otherwise, NOM’s radical extremism is not above the law,” said Courage Campaign Chairman and Founder Rick Jacobs. “Instead of secretly funneling charitable resources into political campaigns that attack families, it’s time for NOM to finally come clean—with the public, state elections officials, and the IRS.”

Morse has previously appeared on behalf of the Ruth Institute at events supporting Fiorina. In July, she boasted on the Ruth Institute’s website about appearing at an event announcing a $1 million campaign for Fiorina. Morse also has used the Institute as a front to participate in other illegal electoral activities, including a campaign to elect judges as part of a shadowy group called Better Courts Now. In April, Morse wrote on the Institute’s website that “we hope everyone … will go to Better Courts Now and seriously consider the candidates they have endorsed.”

NOM is fighting campaign finance laws in a number of states, including New York, Washington, California and Maine, where it remains under investigation by the Maine Ethics Commission for failing to register with the state as a ballot question committee and refusing to disclose the donors to its campaign to overturn Maine’s marriage equality law in 2009.

More information on NOM’s activities can be found at www.NOMexposed.com, and below:

“National Organization for Marriage and Ruth Institute Join Bus Tour Supporting Carly Fiorina in California,” NOM website, September 28, 2010
http://www.nationformarriage.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=omL2KeN0LzH&b=5075187&ct=8656281&notoc=1

“Latino Values Coalition,” Ruth Institute website, September 30, 2010
http://ruthinstitute.libsyn.com/latino-values-coalition

“Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles,” Ruth Institute website, July 27, 2010
http://www.ruthblog.org/2010/07/27/latino-partnership-for-conservative-principles/

“Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Founder and President of the Ruth Institute … making her case for Better Courts Now,” Vimeo, undated
http://vimeo.com/8460332

“Better Courts Now,” Ruth Institute website, April 29, 2010
http://www.ruthblog.org/2010/04/29/better-courts-now-2/

Over at Freedom to Marry, Evan Wolfson adds his $0.02 on how much legal trouble NOM is in of late.

One step too far, NOM, and it’s caught up with you.

91 Comments October 6, 2010

NOM paints with a broad brush so much it could open a gallery

By Adam Bink

Here’s Jennifer Roback-Morse of the Ruth Institute, who joined the NOM/Vota Tus Valores tour at a recent stop, going off on a tear regarding on marriage and abortion:

The first thing I’ll say is that she’s much more of a dynamic speaker than Alfonso. The second is that I don’t even know where to start with this:

Everybody who reads Genesis, everybody – Protestant, Catholic, Jew, Mormon – supported Prop 8!

Most people do not realize that Obama is the most pro-abortion President we have ever had!

Those who believe that need to come together to work together for this great opportunity, to work together for this great vision, so that young people have something to look forward to besides casual hook-ups, and one divorce after another. Because that’s what we’re looking forward to unless we do something about it.

My physician told me I have to keep my blood pressure in check, so I’ll let you do the rant analysis. I will say I’ve read Genesis and here’s one person who thinks she’s full of it regarding her interpretation.

The other thing I would say is Alfonso’s nonsense at the beginning about Latinos “voting our values”. Well, here’s one Latino quoted in the KPBS piece on Monday’s stop who disagrees:

But not everyone in the crowd accepted the Vote Your Values message.

“I’m a Latina. I want the same things that everybody else wants, I want to be able to make choices, I want the freedom to marry who I want to marry,” said Phyllis Lozano, a field organizer and a critic of this and other campaigns trying to get the Latino vote.

“So you know, to target me and to say that these are the traditional Latino values — well, that doesn’t mean that we’re all the same.”

That “dink” you hear is our own Phyllis Lozano hitting the nail on the head. Go Phyllis!

Someday NOM will realize that painting Latino/a people and religious folks, or even folks who’ve read the Bible or Torah or Qur’an and aren’t religious, with a broad brush, and telling them “here’s what your values are, now on your way you go!” can be more offensive than helpful.

And by the way, where’s Brian Brown? I thought he was joining this party. Did he back out when he saw what a mess this tour is?

130 Comments October 6, 2010

Day 9 on the NOM California tour: The wheels come off the Vota Bus

Sputtering to the finish line -Adam

By Arisha Michelle Hatch

Stop #35: Riverside

Another day, another empty parking lot here in Riverside.

Empty parking lot at the Riverside stop with the Vota Tus Valores bus

Empty parking lot at the Riverside stop

Vota Tus Valores organizers spoke to three people (2 of which were Latino) at Fairmount Park before quickly jumping back on the bus to avoid the light drizzle.

Vota Tus Valores engaging just two people in Riverside

They didn’t even bother to call the local Victory Outreach ministry to bring its members to the location.

They also eliminated two stops from their original tour schedule today – El Centro and Palm Spring.

And no, they still haven’t apologized for the assault of Courage Campaign organizer Anthony Ash.

Stop #36: San Bernardino and Stop #37: East Los Angeles

The Vota Bus stopped in San Bernardino for exactly eight minutes before seeing two members of SEIU park and get out of their vehicle.

Minutes before the stop in San Bernardino and no one there

All organizers quickly hopped back on the bus and sped away, leaving a reporter behind before he could interview Alfonso.

Zero voters were engaged.

The Vota Bus was East LA bound, but with nowhere to go, as they seemed without a Plan B when a local community center disinvited them after learning that they had a political agenda (thanks to P8TT’s Kathleen for the investigative work). Apparently, being forthright isn’t a part of their community engagement plan. ┬áNot surprising.

After illegally parking on the side of a freeway off-ramp for 15 minutes, the Vota Bus finally settled at a Mexican market for 5 minutes before pulling off into the sunset.

Zero voters were engaged and Alfonso didn’t even get off the bus.

This tour, according to Alfonso, is part of a $1 million voter engagement effort. I wonder how many paid canvassers you can hire for 10 days to actually knock on doors in Latino communities delivering a values message. Oh, wait that would mean Alfonso wouldn’t get to sleep on all those nice pillow-top beds at resorts like the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa:

Silly me.

97 Comments October 6, 2010

Day 8 on the NOM California tour, Part 2: NOM goes in a church, but love thy neighbor values don’t come out

Here’s the report from last night’s San Diego “RALLY”, or at least that’s what Vota Tus Valores called it. We had some technical issues afterwards so thanks for your patience -Adam

By Arisha Michelle Hatch

Stop #34: San Diego

Thirty-two attended a San Diego “rally” at the NAM Communidad Christiana Church to hear a little bit of Monday night gospel, as well as messages from Vota Tus Valores and NOM organizers. The majority of the service was conducted exclusively in Spanish.

We were permitted to attend so long as we didn’t film or take pictures.

Tears began to flood from my eyes as the service began with songs from the choir. It had been such a bad day – such a bad week. After Anthony was struck by a Vota Tus Valores ally, we drove to San Diego in silence – no music, no conversation – we sat stunned at the line that had been crossed, at the lack of acknowledgment from tour organizers over what had just occurred.

Not a single apology. Not one.

There was a portion at the beginning service where the pastor asked the audience to greet someone near them. Noticing my tears, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Director of the Ruth Institute which is a project of the National Organization for Marriage came over to shake my hand.

After a few songs, the lead pastor began the program.

“We are not second class [citizens], we are first class,” he repeated several times to the cheering crowd.

Dr. Morse made use of a translator to help deliver her message.

“Our mission is to help college students and youth [understand] the importance of lifelong love,” she said. “We are concerned with the problem of sex outside of marriage, of [unmarried] people living of the people who live together […], of divorce. […] Many of the people who oppose us are only thinking about same sex marriage.”

“American culture has been destructive to the institution of marriage; you know that because you came here,” Morse continued. “One man, one woman for life. […] I want to say a special word for those who want to change marriage. […] I refuse to call them my enemies – my opponents – this is a thought unworthy of Christians. They are our friends with wrong ideas. […] They are attracted to us. They are following us around.”

Pastor Richard Ramos later got up to introduce Alfonso Aguilar to the crowd.

“President Obama went to Egypt and said that America is not a Christian nation,” he said. “That [statement] was above his pay grade. We are a Christian Nation.”

It’s amazing how stepping onto church grounds can change the tone and attitude of some and even more stunning how many of the Vota Tus Valores organizers treated us the same way they have been the entire tour – as somehow below them, not even worthy enough to speak to.

Only two people from the Vota Bus approached me during the course of the service: Alan Campo and Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse.

Thirty minutes later, Mark Roepke, the tour security guard who last week intentionally bumped Anthony twice as he was trying to film, called the police in an attempt to prevent us from following them to their (likely over-priced) hotel.

I’ve been called a liar several times by Vota Bus organizers. When asked for one specific instance where I lied so that the record can be corrected, I get nothing but silence.

What’s interesting is that they have cameras, they have a blog, they have a Twitter account, they could attempt to correct the record using any of these media – but they haven’t. They’re not even interested in spin. I urge Vota Tus Valores to go on the record and articulate specifically what facts that I’ve misrepresented or to stop defaming me.

I don’t know anything about them, but I do know myself – that my sadness and frustration will soon turn to anger, that their attempts to bully and intimidate us only strengthen our resolve, that I don’t for one second believe their facade of compassion and Christianity, that I’m onto their lie about what this vacation -excuse me “voter engagement tour” – is really about.

I also know that they should tell us where to send the bill for our damaged Flipcam because I’m quite certain that no one on the Vota Bus wants us to start investigating the real connection between Tus Valores, NOM and the James G. Roach law firm – that, after all may lead to answers.

Alfonso Aguilar, Allegra Huebert-Hewell (Project Director for the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles) and Mark Roepeke (security guard) may be willing to lie, but trust me when I say, you’ve got some cracks in your army – not everyone will lie for your cause when questioned under oath.

Do you think we just made a lucky guess when we found you staying at the pricey beachfront Hyatt Regency Spa and Resort?

Guess again.

74 Comments October 5, 2010

Adults who teach kids to bully, NOM, and why it’s hard to tell the two apart

By Adam Bink

Over at Huffington Post, Keli Goff has an interesting piece on the recent gay teen suicides. In it, she discusses her African-American mother’s difficulty with racial bullying when she was in school, and argues that the adults are the ones to blame, here (bolding mine):

As I noted on Monday’s episode of “The Dylan Ratigan Show,” in these recent cases it is alleged that the students and their families sought help from various school officials with limited and disappointing results. But I have a hard time believing that if these kids had been bullied for their race, not for their sexual identities, that the adults tasked to protect them would not have reacted differently, or at the very least would have reacted at all.

Which makes me think that the kids doing the bullying are not really the ones at fault. They are simply taking their cues from adults. And the message they are receiving is that today in 2010 it may not be okay to call someone the N-word on the playground, but it is okay to call someone the F-word.

Ten years ago Matthew Shepard’s death became a rallying cry for college students of my generation. Many of us assumed (naively, we now know) that the kind of blatant, violent homophobia Matthew suffered would be a thing of the past in the near future. In the last decade our country has advanced significantly on the issue of gay rights, with a majority of Americans now supporting a variety of measures for gays and lesbians that they didn’t just a few years ago. We also have more openly gay public figures and elected officials than we ever have. But the deaths of Asher, Billy, Seth, Tyler and Raymond show that we still have work to do.

We need more adults willing to display the kind of courage that my mother’s principal did all of those years ago, when he stood up for someone because it was the right thing to do, not because it was the popular or politically correct thing to do. Because until we as adults confront homophobia head on, our kids are going to continue to victimize other kids and think it’s okay and that they have our blessing to do so.

While I think Keli may give the bullies a bit too much of a free pass in terms of fault, given that we don’t know where many of them “got it from”, I think she is on the right track here. I bold the last paragraph is because I question what kind of influence NOM is having. It brings me back to yesterday’s events on the NOM California tour, when a Vota Tus Valores/NOM associated man assaulted our videographer, or a few days’ before that, when Thomas tried to physically block Anthony from videotaping, or a few days before that, when Alfonso called us “paparazzi” and tried tot intimidate our videographer, and the events prior to that on the NOM “Summer for Marriage” tour, when Brian Brown tried to have our videographer evicted. Both events are examples of NOM’s bullying that went too far.

And when it comes down to pure messages and the influence adults have, tell me, what is the difference between this:

You better not grow up to be one of those sissy queers. That just ain’t right. It’s a sin against nature. God intended a man to love a woman and be fruitful and multiply.

and this:

In a simple biological framework abstracted from all religion and morality, homosexuality is like infertility. It is a sexual disability preventing certain individuals from participating in the normal reproductive patterns of the human species.

Or this:

No, son, this is a choice you’re making. You just haven’t found the right girl yet and so you’re trying to love a man. Well, it won’t work. You can choose to be different, and this summer I’m sending you to a camp to make sure you get fixed.

and this:

To me, it’s just even more basic. Maybe you can change your desires and maybe you can’t, but you can always control your behavior… Behavior has to be subject to moral critique and reflection.

The first statements in each example are statements made every single day by the adults who influence children around them to bully LGBT kids.

The second statements are from NOM’s own Maggie Gallagher.

The only difference between the two is that Maggie uses big words.

Yesterday, I charged that NOM is no different than the bullies who harassed me or harassed those poor kids or anyone else across America.

Today, I say they’re no different than the adults in their lives, either.

As I noted on Monday’s episode of “The Dylan Ratigan Show,” in these recent cases it is alleged that the students and their families sought help from various school officials with limited and disappointing results. But I have a hard time believing that if these kids had been bullied for their race, not for their sexual identities, that the adults tasked to protect them would not have reacted differently, or at the very least would have reacted at all.

Which makes me think that the kids doing the bullying are not really the ones at fault. They are simply taking their cues from adults. And the message they are receiving is that today in 2010 it may not be okay to call someone the N-word on the playground, but it is okay to call someone the F-word.

Ten years ago Matthew Shepard’s death became a rallying cry for college students of my generation. Many of us assumed (naively, we now know) that the kind of blatant, violent homophobia Matthew suffered would be a thing of the past in the near future. In the last decade our country has advanced significantly on the issue of gay rights, with a majority of Americans now supporting a variety of measures for gays and lesbians that they didn’t just a few years ago. We also have more openly gay public figures and elected officials than we ever have. But the deaths of Asher, Billy, Seth, Tyler and Raymond show that we still have work to do.

We need more adults willing to display the kind of courage that my mother’s principal did all of those years ago, when he stood up for someone because it was the right thing to do, not because it was the popular or politically correct thing to do. Because until we as adults confront homophobia head on, our kids are going to continue to victimize other kids and think it’s okay and that they have our blessing to do so.

80 Comments October 5, 2010

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