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Maryland equality organization responds to NOM memos in new social media campaign

Marriage equality Uncategorized

By Scottie Thomaston

Later this year Maryland voters will decide in a referendum whether the recently passed marriage equality law will stay in place. The National Organization for Marriage has been meddling in the state for years in their endless campaign to turn people of different races against each other. As the Washington Post points out, NOM has pledged $1 million to defeat Republicans who voted to pass marriage equality legislation in the state.

But now, their tactics have been brought out into the light and equality organizations are fighting back. Marylanders for Marriage Equality released a new ad, circulating it around on social media, to make voters aware of NOM’s race-baiting strategy:

The graphic released Thursday afternoon responds to news that a Maine court released confidential memos of the National Organization Marriage. The memos outlined strategy to split the Democratic Party base by pitting blacks and Hispanics against gay-rights groups.

Released by Marylanders for Marriage Equality, a coalition of groups supporting same-sex marriage, the ad suggests NOM’s strategy is to “drive a wedge between gays and blacks” while supporters of Maryland’s month-old gay marriage law want to “showcase love, commitment and strong families.”

Along with the ad, they’ve released a statement from the Maryland State NAACP Political Action Committee:

The Maryland coalition also released a statement by Elbridge James, chairman of the Maryland State NAACP Political Action Committee, calling NOM’s tactics “deplorable.”

“Regardless of where you are on this issue, there is no room for racial exploitation,” James said. “The people of Maryland should not be used.”

Since Maryland is a particularly diverse state, race-baiting tactics have the potential to be uncomfortably effective. Keeping in mind that NOM’s strategy was in two parts – first, find racial minorities to speak out against gay people and to comparisons of gay rights with civil rights, and second, to provoke gays into calling these people “bigots” and other things – it’s important that Maryland is doing this right now. We certainly do not need to fall into NOM’s trap on issues like this.

Polling on this issue in Maryland shows such a close fight that at this point it could go either way. It would be more productive to focus on genuine opposition or support instead of allowing outside groups to come in and deliberately try to drive wedges between minority communities and provoke people into saying or doing hurtful things to other people. If the marriage law is going to fail, should it not fail on its own? Can the opposition only pull off a win by hurting a countless number of people and stirring up resentment on purpose?

I said this about NOM’s mention of developing “a media campaign” based on black opposition to marriage equality:

I find their mention of a “media campaign” quite interesting; at the very least it seems like it’s been effective, even if they didn’t directly push all these things into the spotlight. There have always been stories of a divide between the black and LGBT communities, but it is increasingly prevalent. Stories are coming up left and right. In North Carolina there are fears of “black pastors” (but not white ones) coming after gay people. In Maryland it’s “black pastors along with black politicians” coming after gay people. And there’s the constant stream of media focus on the president’s stance on marriage equality and how, supposedly, he “can’t” come out in support of marriage for gays and lesbians “because he might lose the black vote.”

This seemed to be part of the narrative coming out of the Maryland vote on marriage over the past few years and now it has been exposed as deliberate. Now that it’s out there let’s hope no one plays their game.


  • 1. Sagesse  |  March 30, 2012 at 11:18 am


  • 2. Richard Lyon  |  March 30, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Gay rights organizations are going to have to take their strategy and tactics back to the drawing board if they hope to win this fight. Trying to link gay rights the the historical civil rights movement and expecting automatic black support never has worked effectively. Doing it over and over is not likely to work any better. What is needed is community outreach by LGBT organizations that present a real face of diversity.

  • 3. Scottie Thomaston  |  March 30, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Yep. Actually trying to meet people from the black civil rights movement halfway would be a really good start.

  • 4. Glen  |  March 30, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Actually Dr. Martin Luther King said it best "An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere".

    And every major black civil rights leader has come out in support of same-gender marriage equality.

    These are the stories that need more airing, because marriage equality *IS* a civil rights issue. Equal protection of and equal treatment of the laws was at the HEART of the civil rights movement.

    Just because the struggles between blacks and gays have been different, in some ways better or worse for one group or the other, does not make them any less important.

    Few black people can claim being ostracized and cast out by their family, friends, pastors, and their very own community because they were black!! If that isn't far MORE horrible than being denied a seat at a lunch counter, drinking from separate fountains, and riding at the back of the bus, then I don't know what is. Frankly I don't even think getting beaten by police and washed away with fire hoses, is worse than being cast out by one's own family or even having to hide who you are from them.

    Just because gay people have had the luxury of being able to hide who they are doesn't mean black people have had it worse. It's comforting to at least be able to go back home and to a neighborhood where everyone is just like you, and shares the same discriminated against characteristic. Would abuses against black civil rights have been any less egregious if black people had simply had the ability to HIDE being black? Hell no!

    Black people are not stupid. They CAN understand these concepts just as well as anyone else. They just need to have them presented to them, because they more than anyone often see civil rights through the lens of skin color, being it is the characteristic that denied them their civil rights.

  • 5. Richard Lyon  |  March 30, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    The problem is that analogy is convincing to the gay community but has never been one that gained traction in the black community. Since we are going to need black votes to win in Maryland, we need to come up with a new approach.

  • 6. Glen  |  March 30, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Well it's convincing to the black civil rights leaders, the one's who stand at the forefront of making sure black people's civil rights are not impinged upon. They know that protecting another minority's civil rights is critical to ensuring your own civil rights are secured.

    It's going to have to be these leaders who get this understanding across to the black community.

    Gay rights organizations can probably do a lot to help facilitate that, and should be doing that more diligently.

    While NOM is busy digging up and giving a soap box to voices of anti-gay intolerance in minority communities. We need to be connecting with even more and giving even BIGGER soap boxes to the prominent voices of tolerance and inclusion in these communities.

  • 7. Theo McKinney-Ewing  |  March 30, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    HA! From the desk of this African American Gay male of a certain age, I am more than happy to comment on the alleged comparisons to be made in regards to today’s wholly specious “GAY civil rights” versus “BLACK civil rights” question!!

    I contend, that nothing insults American Civil Rights history more than some of these extraordinarily pompous Afrikan Amerikan bigots (YES, *BIGOTS*), proclaiming some sort of civil rights "victim-hood”, while vacantly invoking personal civil rights affronts that they themselves will never face IN THEIR LIFETIME, just so they can say Black civil rights are somehow “more righteous” than the rights of innocent Gays and Lesbian Americans.

    Gays of all races –even African American ones like me- face discrimination on a DAILY BASIS IN THIS CENTURY -Antigays think us Gay people are too *icky* to share OUR country with, and THUS routinely conspire to codify our 3/5 status as citizens, whenever possible.

    The last time such unlawful discrimination happened to ANY African American people as a disfavored civil group, wasn’t even within the last half-century!

  • 8. Kate  |  March 30, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Theo, I wish you'd post this at the NOMblog. Perfect!

  • 9. Str8Grandmother  |  March 30, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Thank you Theo!

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