Brian Brown of NOM

Today is the day in which the National Organization for Marriage tries to turn a page on a thus far disastrous year for the organization and get back to its original goal of denying gays the right to marry while pretending to be the “victims” of “lgbt oppression.”

In Washington, NOM will be holding its March4Marriage, a sure-to-be astroturfed event in which anti-gay spokespeople, such as Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum will attempt to trick Americans into believing that marriage is in danger from “the gays.”

All of those involved in this monstrosity will also claim that they are not bigoted for wanting to deny the gay community the right to marry and that their opposition to marriage equality isn’t fueled by a personal animus of the lgbt community.

It’s going to take a lot of chutzpah on their part as well as a hope that we will forget the homophobic acts which NOM has committed over the years to supposedly save the “sacred union between a man and a woman.”

Good luck on that last one, particularly as I present Five Acts of Anti-Gay Bigotry NOM Wants You to Forget:

5. NOM has attempted to create ‘fake victims’ of marriage equality –  On several occasions, NOM has tried to create a narrative that marriage equality will lead to the unfair demonization of those opposing it, only to have the narrative blow up in its face.  In 2011, NOM began what it called the Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance  This was an attempt to spotlight Americans who had their religious liberties and rights threatened simply for opposing marriage equality.  It failed badly. Equality Matters, in 2012, had this to say about the spotlighted examples:

 . . . out of NOM’s nine Marriage ADA stories, three weren’t about marriage, three were from a different country, and zero demonstrated an instance of actual “defamation.” It should come as no surprise that NOM had such a difficult time finding any compelling evidence that opponents of marriage equality were having their “rights and dignity” threatened and denied. NOM’s “gays as bullies” narrative has already been exposed and rejected by a number of judges and courts across the country.

In addition, in 2013, the site Politifact gave NOM’s Rhode Island branch a “pants on fire” (which means basically you are lying out of your ass) rating for a claim it trotted out that religious groups have been forced to hold same-sex marriages in their facilities.

4. NOM has implied that gays want to use marriage equality to “indoctrinate” children – No anti-gay group’s arsenal is complete without the claim that gays want to “recruit” or “indoctrinate” children. And NOM is no different:


In 2011 during its failed campaign to keep marriage equality from coming to New York, NOM exploited the fear that gays want to use marriage equality to “indoctrinate” children even though Politifact had earlier that year gave NOM a false rating for a similar claim it made in Rhode Island.

3. Folks behind NOM helped in creating a hideously flawed study about same-sex households

From the Regnerus Fallout:

On June 10, 2012, Social Science Research’s website went live with “How Different Are the Adult Children of Parents Who Have Same-Sex Relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study,” written by University of Texas at Austin associate sociology professor Mark Regnerus . . .The intention of Regnerus’ study – which was funded to the tune of nearly $800,000 by the conservative Witherspoon Institute and Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation – was to present the large, random, population-based study that Marks lamented was missing from the academic literature on same-sex parenting. And to the delight of the religious right community, Regnerus claimed his study found negative outcomes for the children who said one of their parents engaged in a “same-sex romantic relationship” at some point during their childhoods.

However, Regnerus’s study contained a multitude of errors, including the fact that it did not actually compared married gay parents to married heterosexual parents and Regnerus admitted that the study did not establish a connection between negative outcomes and same-sex parenting.

But the largest problem Regenrus’s study had was its funders, particularly Princeton professor Robert George. Again, from the Regnerus Fallout:

Though the Witherspoon Institute and Mark Regnerus have denied that George was directly involved in any aspect of the New Family Structures Study, George’s seat on the board of directors on the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation indicates he was likely  part of the decision by the foundation to help fund it. The Bradley Foundation’s board of directors, which directs the foundation’s funds, gave at least $90,000 to the Regnerus study in 2011. Additionally, George’s name was mentioned in a fundraising letter to the Bradley Foundation, penned by Witherspoon President Luis Tellez: “We are very grateful for The Bradley Foundation’s consideration of this request. Mark Regnerus, Robby George, Brad Wilcox, and I would be happy to work with the Bradley Foundation to identify other funding partners,” Tellez wrote. George helped draft the original Federal Marriage Amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman that was first introduced to Congress in 2002 but has never passed.

One more thing. George is also one of the co-founders of NOM.

In addition to possibly helping to fund the Regnerus’s study George put together a marketing campaign to run as soon as it was published. This campaign included NOM and several NOM-connected groups.

All of this brought up questions with regards to Regnerus’s partiality and his study was rebuked by over 200 researchers, the sociology department of his own university, and finally a Michigan federal judge, Bernard Friedman. Earlier this year, Friedman not only struck down a law barring marriage equality in Michigan, but he was especially brutal to Regnerus’s study and to Regnerus himself:

“The Court finds Regnerus’s testimony entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration. The evidence adduced at trial demonstrated that his 2012 ‘study’ was hastily concocted at the behest of a third-party funder, which found it ‘essential that the necessary data be gathered to settle the question in the forum of public debate about what kinds of family arrangement are best for society’ and which ‘was confident that the traditional understanding of marriage will be vindicated by this study.’ … While Regnerus maintained that the funding source did not affect his impartiality as a researcher, the Court finds this testimony unbelievable. The funder clearly wanted a certain result, and Regnerus obliged.”

2. NOM participated in anti-gay efforts in foreign countries – Unfortunately in spite of the rebukes, Regnerus’s work played a huge role in countries around the world establishing harsh anti-gay laws, particularly in Russia. NOM President Brian Brown spoke in Russia after that country (thanks to the Regnerus study) passed a law against supposed “gay propaganda,” which was actually a law created to silence the lgbt Russians in general. According to People for the American Way in its report on how groups like NOM were marketing homophobia worldwide, Brown spoke about denying adoption rights to gays:

“But we are now convinced, having heard the presentations of our French brothers and sisters, that we are talking about very serious problems indeed. We are talking about violations of rights, we are talking about the rights and problems of children in their education. We should not shy away from this and should not forget about it and create an illusion for ourselves. A reconsideration of the definition and understanding of marriage is in fact a real threat to rights. Very soon after a law was passed that legalized same-sex marriage in the state of Massachusetts, we saw that religious organizations were closing down, religious organizations that dealt with adoptions and that did not support adoption by same-sex families. They were closing one after another. We have actually seen that in some schools, they are talking to children about homosexuality, but in fact they don’t have the right to learn about a lot of things like that until a certain age. …I think that this visit, the invitation to visit Russia, will enable the development of this movement around the world. We will band together, we will defend our children and their normal civil rights.”

1. NOM attempts play the LGBT and African-American community against one another – Don’t be surprised. You knew this was going to be number one. In 2012, court documents proved that NOM was deliberately playing the gay and black communities against one another. From a post I published that year:

According to a court document that was uploaded online, NOM specifically worked to drive a wedge between the black and gay community on the subject of marriage equality:

According to page 11 of this document called Marriage: $20 Million Strategy for Victory:

3. Not a Civil Right Project 

The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks – two key democratic constituencies. We aim to find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage; to develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; and to provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots. No politician wants to take up and push an issue that splits the base of the party.

NOM has portrayed whatever African-American opposition to marriage equality its spotlighted as spontaneous attempts by leaders and members of the black community to keep its civil rights legacy from supposedly being “tainted” by a comparison to gay equality.

In other words, NOM was attempting to exploit the difference of opinion that some in the African-American had about their civil rights movement being declared as similar to the lgbt equality movement.  You will notice that the document said NOM would “find, equip, and energize” African-Americans spokespeople against marriage equality. The organization has done this in three examples:

Patrick Wooden – In 2012 during its successful attempt to ban marriage equality in North Carolina, NOM teamed up with Wooden, head of the Upper Room Church of God in Christ in Raleigh, NC, for outreach in the African-American community. He also said the following about gay men during the campaign:

The God of the Bible made the human sperm, the God of the Bible designed it and it was not designed to be emptied into an area that is filled with feces, there is nothing for it to germinate with, it will most certainly mean the extinction of the human race. My belief is that if the medical community would just step forward and just would share with the American people what happens to the male anus, the problems that homosexuals have with their rectums, the damage that is done, the operations that are needed to sew up their bodies if you will, and how many of the men don’t even give these stitches time to heal before they are back out there practicing that wicked behavior. Some are bleeders, men who are not turned off by ingesting the feces of other men.

Harry Jackson –  People for the American Way has called Jackson the “Point Man for the Wedge Strategy.”  PFAW was mainly talking about how religious right groups use Jackson to gain credibility into the black community. NOM in particular has attempted to use Jackson on several occasions. From a post I published in 2012:

According to Mother Jones magazine, Jackson has received $20,000 from the National Organization for Marriage’s “education fund” for his efforts to exploit the opinions of those in the black community who do not agree with marriage equality.

In addition, in 2010, Jackson attempted to get a measure on the ballot opposing marriage equality in D.C. In pursuit of that effort, he led the group Stand for Marriage DC.  According to documents attained by Mother Jones magazine, NOM gave $60,000 for that effort.

William Owens – Owens is the head of CAAP (the Coalition of African-American Pastors). Supposedly CAAP was leading an effort to get the black community to withhold their votes from President Obama in the upcoming 2012 election because of his support for marriage equality. However, it was found out by USA Today that CAAP had deep connections to conservative groups, including NOM. It was also found out, via the Washington Blade, that NOM was paying Owens and his wife $20,000 for their services.

So all of this comes down to one unwavering fact – in spite of all of its platitudes of merely wanting to “protect marriage” and whining about “unfairly being labeled as a bigot simply for believing in traditional marriage,” NOM is merely a shady group with a good spin. But behind the spin are the same lies and homophobia which the lgbt community has learned to expect from so-called “traditional morality groups.”

No matter what you hear today from NOM, its employees or supporters, never forget these five examples of anti-gay bigotry.

NOM is hoping that you do.

Related links:

The Regnerus Fallout

NOM Exposed

How They See Us: Unmasking the Religious Right War on Gay America

GLAAD’s Commentator Accountability Project

Alvin McEwen

Alvin McEwen