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John Mellencamp: No “Pink Houses” for NOM

NOM Exposed NOM Tour Tracker Right-wing Videos

Kathleen is the Trial Tracker who made the Peter, Paul and Mary action possible. -Adam

By Kathleen Perrin

It is obvious to all of us that the so-called National Organization for Marriage doesn’t receive permission for use of the music they play at their public rallies. If they had asked permission, they would know that the artists whose works they’re co-opting want nothing to do with NOM and their bigoted anti-equality campaigns.

I’m sure you remember the cease and desist letter sent to NOM President Brian Brown in response to the organization’s use of the Peter, Paul & Mary recording of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” at their rally in Albany, NY.

Well, John Mellencamp isn’t happy about NOM’s use of his music, either.

I heard NOM playing Mellencamp’s “Pink Houses” during their rally in Madison, WI, as this video shows:

A contact with John Mellencamp’s publicist confirmed my suspicion. Not only had NOM not received permission to use the recording, but John Mellencamp does not want his music associated with NOM. In fact, John Mellencamp stands solidly with us – on the side of equal rights.  Thank you, Mr. Mellencamp, for your support!

On John Mellencamp’s instruction, his publicist Bob Merlis sent the following note to NOM (copied here with permission)

I am getting in touch with you on behalf of my client John Mellencamp who has become aware that his music (“Pink Houses”) has been used at events sponsored by your organization. Please be aware that Mr. Mellencamp’s views on same sex marriage and equal rights for people of all sexual orientations are at odds with NOM’s stated agenda.

Back in 2008, we pointed out to the McCain-Palin campaign that their use of Mr. Mellencamp’s music in campaign events was puzzling in light of Mellencamp’s own political views which were, largely, in opposition to those of these candidates. Immediately after we sent notice to campaign manager Rick Davis, the McCain campaign had the good sense to stop the use of Mellencamp’s music at their events. There’s an article about this from the Washington Post that I’ve pasted below. (editor’s note- you can find that article here, segment related to this at the bottom)

We would encourage you to find music from a source more in harmony with your views than Mr. Mellencamp in the future.

Of course, this is just more of the same from the National Organization for Marriage.  They’ve repeatedly used the music of artists who are not interested in being associated with NOM’s discriminatory message.  They consistently lie about being oppressed, trying to take the role of victim, blaming the very people they’re oppressing.  They’ve even attempted to co-opt the message of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., claiming that their perverted idea of civil rights somehow makes them his “natural heirs.”

So Brian Brown, I have a few questions for you: What other music have you used without permission? How many people do we need to contact for public disclaimers before you realize that these artists whose music you exploit want no part of your bigoted message?

And one last question. We’ve heard you claim you’re the leader of a new civil rights movement, following in the steps of Martin Luther King, Jr.  So ask yourself this, and try to answer honestly:  Do you think John Mellencamp and Peter, Paul & Mary would want to distance themselves from the messages of Dr. King? Or perhaps, is it that they realize the truth of the matter, and only want to distance themselves from you?

h/t to John Hobbs, friend, musician and producer extraordinaire, for helping me get in touch with Bob Merlis and to Emily Mills for use of her video.


  • 1. Dave P.  |  October 4, 2010 at 3:36 am

    Well done!

    Oh, and "First!!"

  • 2. Dave P.  |  October 4, 2010 at 3:51 am

    Almost forgot – today's cookies are peanut cakes from Taiwan. Similar to peanut brittle. Enjoy!

  • 3. Jonathan H  |  October 4, 2010 at 5:36 am

    Mmmm, peanut cookies!

  • 4. Kathleen  |  October 4, 2010 at 3:52 am

    And a big THANK YOU to Kate and Anonygrl for their editorial assistance!

    (and subscribing)

  • 5. Ann S.  |  October 4, 2010 at 4:01 am

    You go, Kathleen! Rock on!

  • 6. Rhie  |  October 4, 2010 at 4:34 am

    Wow that's awesome!

  • 7. ChrisQ  |  October 4, 2010 at 6:42 am

    Fantastic! I just bought twenty bucks worth of JCM music at itunes as a thank you.

  • 8. Kathleen  |  October 4, 2010 at 6:49 am

    That's great, ChrisQ! A great way to say 'thank you' to this vocal ally.

  • 9. JonT  |  October 4, 2010 at 8:46 am

    Nice work Kathleen!

    'We’ve heard you claim you’re the leader of a new civil rights movement, following in the steps of Martin Luther King, Jr.'

    Every time they make this claim, and angel dies.

  • 10. Richard A. Walter (s  |  October 4, 2010 at 3:38 am

    Way to go, Kathleen!

  • 11. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  October 4, 2010 at 3:49 am

    Yay Kathleen!

    Ann – perhaps Kathleen deserves "Music Police" badge or something….

  • 12. Ann S.  |  October 4, 2010 at 4:12 am

    Kathleen, you are hereby awarded merit badges for Eternal Vigilance ("The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." — Thomas Jefferson), Showing Initiative, and Awesomeness. Please wear them with Pride!

  • 13. Kathleen  |  October 4, 2010 at 4:15 am

    THANKS Ann. Was once in GS, but I do believe these are the first merit badges I've ever earned (unless making that stamp out of a potato counted for something).

  • 14. Ann S.  |  October 4, 2010 at 4:39 am

    The funny thing is that my real life GS troop is not into earning badges at all. We earn money and take trips.

  • 15. Kate  |  October 4, 2010 at 4:46 am

    Well then, Ann, I'm glad you have this outlet for awarding badges!

  • 16. Ronnie  |  October 4, 2010 at 3:40 am

    Yes…I concur….Thank you Mr. Mellencamp, for your support….<3…Ronnie

  • 17. Sagesse  |  October 4, 2010 at 3:40 am

    Thank you Kathleen. Merlis referencing the McCain campaign is a nice touch.

  • 18. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  October 4, 2010 at 3:50 am


  • 19. yayponies  |  October 4, 2010 at 3:43 am

    This is so awesome. Buying Pink Houses on iTunes in support. 🙂

  • 20. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  October 4, 2010 at 3:50 am

    Great idea yayponies!

  • 21. Straight Ally #3008  |  October 4, 2010 at 3:59 am

    Courage Campaign, how about an organized "buy in" on iTunes following yayponies' lead? If not, I'll follow suit shortly.

  • 22. Rene micheo  |  October 4, 2010 at 4:08 am

    Me just bought in support 🙂 also is great music

  • 23. Ronnie  |  October 4, 2010 at 4:12 am

    So did I… : ) …Ronnie

  • 24. Kate  |  October 4, 2010 at 3:44 am

    Kathleen — is there a FB page where we can post our appreciation to Mr. Mellencamp? And thank YOU for all this great work you do!

  • 25. Joel  |  October 4, 2010 at 3:46 am

    Good work, Kathleen! Although I must say, I had a little chuckle seeing John Mellencamp's picture right under your byline…

    Are there any legal issues here? Can Mr. Mellencamp legally stop them from using recordings of music he recorded? When I was a choreographer in Japan, we only had to pay licensing fees to use an artist's music. We didn't have to get the artist's permission, but of course, we weren't using music to espouse a political cause or market a product.

  • 26. Don in Texas  |  October 4, 2010 at 3:50 am

    It seems to me that anyone who wishes to use recorded music at a public event must pay a license fee to ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Publishers and Authors.

  • 27. fiona64  |  October 4, 2010 at 5:30 am

    That's correct.

    I guarantee you that the NOMbies think that their purchase of a CD gives them the right to broadcast same (radio stations pay fees to artists, called mechanical royalties, via ASCAP, BTW).

    As we've seen here, broadcasting those songs at the "rallies" implies endorsement by the artist. Most artists don't seem to think much of NOM, so far as I can tell.

    Maybe Ted Nugent will give them a license to play "Wango Tango" or "Cat Scratch Fever"; he's the only "artist" (and yes, in Mr. Nugent's case I do use the term loosely) that I've seen come out in favor of any of their positions.


  • 28. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  October 4, 2010 at 3:46 am


  • 29. Bennett  |  October 4, 2010 at 3:59 am

    "Do you think John Mellencamp and Peter, Paul & Mary would want to distance themselves from the messages of Dr. King?"

    So simple a child could understand this.

  • 30. Rev. Will Fisher  |  October 4, 2010 at 4:01 am

    Make it…
    …hurt so good.

  • 31. Santa Barbara Mom  |  October 4, 2010 at 5:52 am

    Rev. Fisher, I just want to thank you for being here and sharing. I was very touched by your post in the last thread, and in fact, sent it to my son.
    Just recently I took myself on a tour of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. I entered and was "welcomed" by a beautiful modern wood statue of St. Francis, my favorite Saint. Within minutes I could feel the Spirit and my eyes filled with tears. That cathedral is very beautiful and has a very interesting decor with the murals of California history. At the end of my tour I walked into a small open chapel adjoining the large main chapel. It was very simple, in that it had but 4 chairs, a small altar with an altarpiece by Keith Haring, entitled the Life of Christ", and a portion of the AIDS quilt was hanging in the back. Tears literally came pouring out of my eyes, soaking my face and it took a good 20 minutes to compose myself. I walked the labrinth to sort through what I had just felt. I felt the Spirit of Compassion in that small chapel….it was so strong, it was tangible. That chapel was The Interfaith AIDS Memorial Chapel. That experience strengthened even more my testimony that Heavenly Father is everywhere and He Love Us All.

  • 32. Straight Ally #3008  |  October 4, 2010 at 4:03 am

    What does "Pink Houses" have to do with NOM's message, anyway? It's mostly a montage of American lives, of "the simple man," that didn't turn out as grandly as expected.

  • 33. Kathleen  |  October 4, 2010 at 4:05 am

    These fundies never actually listen to the lyrics. If it has a catchy refrain, that's good enough for them….in keeping with all their arguments.

  • 34. Alan E  |  October 4, 2010 at 4:12 am

    Also, doesn't pink houses (these words, not the song) have a slight gay connotation?

  • 35. yayponies  |  October 4, 2010 at 4:17 am


  • 36. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  October 4, 2010 at 4:25 am

  • 37. yayponies  |  October 4, 2010 at 4:12 am

    Pink Houses sound kinda gay…I don't know what they were thinking! 😛

  • 38. bJason  |  October 4, 2010 at 4:22 am

    Kick ass, Kathleen!

    Huge thanks to Mr. Mellencamp!!!

  • 39. Josiah  |  October 4, 2010 at 4:47 am

    Wikipedia articles on Mellencamp, "Pink Houses" and NOM all updated with this info. 🙂

  • 40. Kate  |  October 4, 2010 at 4:49 am

    Yay Josiah!!!

  • 41. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  October 4, 2010 at 5:11 am

    Whoa! P8TT'ers ROCK! Good job Josiah!

  • 42. Anonygrl  |  October 4, 2010 at 4:51 am

    You GO Kathleen!! Great job!!!

  • 43. Franck  |  October 4, 2010 at 5:09 am

    Good. Is that a time to shout "HA!!! IN YOUR FACE!!!!" ?

    – Franck P. Rabeson
    Days spent apart from my fiancé because of DOMA: 1200 days, as of today.

  • 44. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  October 4, 2010 at 5:14 am


  • 45. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  October 4, 2010 at 5:15 am

    Hang in there Franck!!! Pulling 4 U!

  • 46. Franck  |  October 4, 2010 at 5:31 am

    Thanks, Gregory. I also just noticed the figure right now. Several people asked me to stop counting the days so precisely because of the negative effect it has on my mood, but I guess I'm a masochist like that…

    At least, when I feel bad about it, there's a song I like to listen to: Ensemble, by Jean Jacques Goldman.

    It's French so you might not understand it, but the very first verse speaks volumes:

    Was it May, November,
    Here or there?
    I only remember an immense wall
    But we were together,
    And together we broke through it.

    Fitting for a lot of us folks, don't you think?

    – Franck P. Rabeson
    Days spent apart from my fiancé because of DOMA: 1200 days, as of today.

  • 47. Franck  |  October 4, 2010 at 5:33 am

    Embed FAIL…

  • 48. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  October 4, 2010 at 5:41 am

    Its tricky about "count" or "not count" If you subscribe to the "Law of attraction" (aka "The Secret") still could count by re-framing 1200 days closer to equality! Almost there! 😉 I appreciate your passion and contribution always…sometimes though my hear feels heavy for you and others in this predicament. One day closer 2 break the wall!!!! Love 2 you !

  • 49. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  October 4, 2010 at 5:42 am

    my HEART!

  • 50. Alan E.  |  October 4, 2010 at 6:17 am

    1200 is a milestone no one should have to get to.

  • 51. Jerry  |  October 4, 2010 at 5:30 am

    Off topic, but this just in:

    (CN) – The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the 9th Circuit to dismiss as moot a dispute over the release of videotape from the trial overturning Proposition 8, California's voter-approved ban on gay marriage.

    Prop 8 supporters had sought to block the retention and release of trial video even to the parties, fearing it might eventually be released to the public.

    The 9th Circuit refused to intervene, and the Supreme Court vacated and remanded, instructing the circuit court to dismiss the dispute as moot after the justices ruled 5-4 on Jan. 13 to block any broadcast of the trial to the general public.

    In August, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker rejected the state's ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional.

    "The state does not have an interest in enforcing private moral or religious beliefs without an accompanying secular purpose," Walker wrote. "Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians."

    The Alliance Defense Fund has appealed Walker's ruling to the 9th Circuit.

  • 52. Kathleen  |  October 4, 2010 at 5:34 am

    I'd have to do some digging to figure out the exact details of who appealed what and when, but I think this is just wrapping up old business. The reason this is moot is because Walker already released the tapes to the parties for use in their closing arguments back in June.

  • 53. NetAmigo  |  October 4, 2010 at 5:36 am

    Basically, no one agrees with NOM's position anymore other than those of a right-wing religious persuasion. 50 years of scientific research by the leading mental health organizations tells us homosexuality is a normal form of sexual orientation. NOM's position appeals only to the ignorant and prejudiced. It is a product of a bygone era.

  • 54. Straight Ally #3008  |  October 4, 2010 at 5:47 am

    As this already-outdated graph shows, opinion is marching inexorably toward equality. The trouble is, the religious right still has a great deal of political clout (Prop 8, Question 1, filibuster of DADT repeal, etc.) and political change is lagging behind change in public opinion.

  • 55. Kate  |  October 4, 2010 at 5:38 am

    Just saw an old article online where the "Vota tus Valores" tour was being announced — at a $1 million price tag.

  • 56. Kate  |  October 4, 2010 at 5:40 am

    That must not include the cost of that very expensive custom bus, though.

  • 57. Eden James  |  October 4, 2010 at 5:42 am

    Got a link?

  • 58. Kate  |  October 4, 2010 at 5:46 am

  • 59. Anonygrl  |  October 4, 2010 at 6:21 am

    Anybody got a total of actual Latinos spoken to by riders of the bus on this tour so far? I think it is in the neighborhood of 50 total.

    Lets be OVERLY generous and say that in the rest of the tour they get a total of 500 people that they speak to.

    Imagine that. $2,000 a vote. You could buy them cheaper by standing on the street corner on election day and offering people $50 each to vote your way, and you would probably have better luck and more voter retention.


  • 60. Kate  |  October 4, 2010 at 6:28 am

    Even 50 seems WAY overly-generous. How many times do they get to count the same men from the church group that they hauled from stop to stop around Merced?

  • 61. ChrisB  |  October 4, 2010 at 6:20 am

    I bet that's just for the pork rinds.

  • 62. Dave P.  |  October 4, 2010 at 5:44 am

    I just spoke with my mom, who was at the Santa Ana tour stop this morning (my sister wasn't able to go, a work issue came up at the last minute). My mom arrived a few minutes early and didn't see the bus, but spotted a group of folks standing in a parking lot that she thought might be the bus folks – so when they got in a car, she followed them!

    This led her to the bus, in a small parking lot a block away. There was a group of about a dozen anti-NOM & anti Fiorina protesters, including a priest. Eventually a few people wandered in to listen to NOM's blather. We out numbered them yet again. There were some police there who had to tell the bus people to stay off the public sidewalk. They started late and wrapped up after about 20 minutes. Some folks from our side tried to confront NOM and ask questions at the end but the bus people jumped on the bus and left in a hurry.

    Later today my mom will email me some pictures she took and I'll forward them here to P8TT. Go Mom!! : )

  • 63. Kate  |  October 4, 2010 at 5:48 am

    Yay, Mom!!!! That's especially terrific about the police being there; I never thought about the public sidewalk issue. Can hardly wait to see Mom's pix.

  • 64. Ann S.  |  October 4, 2010 at 5:48 am

    Hooray for Dave P.'s Mom! Merit badges are hereby awarded to Dave P.'s Mom for Promptness, Showing Initiative, and Tracking Wily Wildlife. I hope she will wear them with pride!

  • 65. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  October 4, 2010 at 5:51 am


  • 66. Joel  |  October 4, 2010 at 6:05 am

    I sure do wish your Mom had a chance to confront BB. THAT would have been something to see!

    For those of you who don't know Dave's Mom, she is 4 foot something, looks kind of like a generic, pie-cooking, cheek-pinching Grandma. But when she's got a bee under her bonnet, she is formidable. My mental image of her going head to head with BB or MG brigs huge smiles to my face. They wouldn't be able to resist her, and they wouldn't have a snow all's chance in he'll against her.

    Say"hi", and send her my love, Dave, please.

  • 67. Kate  |  October 4, 2010 at 6:07 am

    What a great description — Dave's mom sounds fabulous. We're lucky to have her on our side; thanks, Dave P's mom!

  • 68. Dave P.  |  October 4, 2010 at 7:01 am

    Hee hee. Yes, they would have assumed she was a little old lady who wanted to help them stop those terrible scary homos. And if they had started a conversation with her they would have walked right into a trap.

  • 69. Courtney  |  October 4, 2010 at 5:52 am

    Way to go, about time someone shut those people up!

  • 70. Kathleen  |  October 4, 2010 at 5:56 am

    This report of today's post has a picture of great pink house. Wanted to share: 🙂

  • 71. Mouse  |  October 4, 2010 at 6:26 am

    Wow. What a great house!

  • 72. Kate  |  October 4, 2010 at 5:59 am

    Oh! A "Hello Maggie" house — too cute.

  • 73. Kate  |  October 4, 2010 at 6:00 am

    Damn. There goes that reply link again.

  • 74. Joel  |  October 4, 2010 at 6:38 am

    Off topic, but here's a fairly recent story about a student teacher who was let go because he answered a fourth grade student's question about his marital status. He's gay, and answered truthfully that he's not married. When asked why, he once again stated with candor that if he chooses to marry, it would be to marry a man, and that's not yet legal where they live

  • 75. fiona64  |  October 4, 2010 at 7:24 am

    One more reason why I loathe Portland (I grew up outside of said town). As a whole, PDX likes to pretend that it's Ever-So Hip, but it's just a slightly less redneck part of the state. Ugh.


  • 76. Fake Name  |  October 4, 2010 at 8:46 am

    This is exactly why some of us will never sign our names to be publically displayed on the internet, the potential loss of employment.

  • 77. Elizabeth Parker  |  October 4, 2010 at 6:52 am

    Ms. Perrin,
    Thank you for contacting this artist and getting his position on record. How 'bout another one? I recently heard Steve Perry's/Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" being played at a Christine (radically anti-LGBT) O'Donnell rally/function. Perhaps you could get Mr. Perry's position on the record.

  • 78. Kathleen  |  October 4, 2010 at 6:55 am

    Elizabeth, are you on facebook? If so, send me a private message through my facebook account – click on my name in this comment to find my page. (no need to 'friend' me; my account is set to allow PM's from everyone)

  • 79. Bill  |  October 4, 2010 at 7:43 am

    I am surprised NOM didn't record their own version called 'Straight Houses.'

  • 80. Ray in MA  |  October 4, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Just my 2 cents: Way to go Kathleen! Another home run!

  • 81. John Mellencamp Says Pink&hellip  |  October 4, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    […] Mellencamp is most definitely not. Check this out from the Courage Campaign’s Prop 8 Trial Tracker: […]

  • 82. Michael  |  October 4, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    Moral, decent, real Americans want nothing to do with the hatred and exclusion the shrill anti-gay pressure group NOM packages as "tradition." Pushing teenagers toward suicide is not a "value" or a "tradition." The false prophets preaching such blasphemy should be ashamed.

  • 83. Gay Marriage Watch »&hellip  |  October 5, 2010 at 6:29 am

    […] Full Story from Towleroad […]

  • 84. NOM’s Unauthorized &hellip  |  October 5, 2010 at 10:24 am

    […] Kathleen is at it again. This time, she’s caught NOM using John Mellencamp’s,  “Pink Houses” during a rally in Madison,…. […]

  • 85. James in TO  |  October 5, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    John Mellencamp has always been outstanding. Bravo.

  • 86. Bob  |  October 5, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    @James love the canadian flag, show your pride, yahooo

  • 87. John Mellencamp Pissed at&hellip  |  April 17, 2014 at 11:13 am

    […] to use Mellencamp’s music at events opposing same-sex marriage. Mellencamp’s people sent them a letter, informing them that he opposed their agenda, and asking that they “find music from a source […]

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