Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage agreed to appear on Thomas Robert's MSNBC show to discuss a leaked confidential memos that the group aimed to achieve its political goals by stirring racial tensions between groups. It was revealed: “The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks—two key Democratic constiuencies," and they planned on "Fanning the hostility raised in the wake of Prop 8" between the two communities.
"This empty studio chair was supposed to hold Maggie Gallagher, former president and co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage. But as you can see she is missing in action, although we did confirm an hour ago that she would be in that studio. I would say, 'Hello Maggie,"Equality Matters has a video of the segment where Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out debated an empty chair. [Update: It appears to have been a honest mistake, see update at end of post.]
It isn't suprising, the organzation doesn't seem at all prepare to deal with the push back they are recieving. Gallagher herself seems to have no comprehenision of how this is being received, she wrote on the National Review website yesterday:
It’s always amusing to watch the media go to work to generate a non-story. In this case, it’s about “secret” documents that show NOM reaches out to black and Latino churches to fight gay marriage."Nothing to see here" is a typical PR spin tactic. But it should be employed carefully.
Mine is: Must be a slow news day over at BuzzFeed.
Because it doesn't at all recognize the seriousness of the situation and if you're completely dismissing your critics, it can be seen as very condescending and insensitive.
"NOM's underhanded attempts to divide will not succeed if Black Americans remember their own history of discrimination. Pitting bigotry's victims against other victims is reprehensible; the defenders of justice must stand together."Bond was also quoted in The Hill paper yesterday:
“It confirmed a suspicion that some evil hand was behind this,” former NAACP Chairman Julian Bond told The Hill.It seems if the NAACP is using words like "evil" "filthy" "underhanded" and "reprehensible," Maggie can try a little harder than just call it a "non-story" for a "slow news day."
The civil rights leader said the strategy appeared to have been implemented already, pointing to a gay-marriage push in Maryland that failed in 2011, which he said was largely due to opposition from black politicians. (Gay marriage was reintroduced in 2012 in Maryland and passed, although opponents are trying to reverse it through a referendum).
“I would not be surprised to find this group and its filthy hand in crafting this situation,” Bond said.
National Organization for Marriage's official statement from President Brian Brown:
“The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) was formed in 2007 and has worked extensively with supporters of traditional marriage from every color, creed and background. We have worked with prominent African-American and Hispanic leaders, including Dr. Alveda C. King, Bishop George McKinney of the COGIC Church, Bishop Harry Jackson and the New York State Senator Reverend Rubén Díaz Sr., all of whom share our concern about protecting marriage as the union of one man and one woman.So, their defense for their strategy of manipulating an entire community, "fanning hostility" and "driving a wedge?" is essentially, "we've got some friends who are black."
“Gay marriage advocates have attempted to portray same-sex marriage as a civil right, but the voices of these and many other leaders have provided powerful witness that this claim is patently false. Gay marriage is not a civil right, and we will continue to point this out in written materials such as those released in Maine. We proudly bring together people of different races, creeds and colors to fight for our most fundamental institution: marriage.”
And of course, there a very substantial difference between "doing outreach" and "fanning flames of hostility." And the difference is felt on the ground where people, gay, black and both, have to live the consequences of the hostility that is being stirred up.
“If the success of the National Organization of Marriage’s movement depends on stirring up resentment between communities, it might want to rethink its strategies.
“African American men and women of faith are not a political football to be tossed around in a cynical game of resentment and division. We, like all Americans, struggle thoughtfully with issues of faith, family and politics. Anti-equality activists such as NOM consistently attempt to use a deeply cynical ‘wedge’ strategy to divide African Americans and the gay community, playing up what are now old and tired cliches. In the long run, this strategy will falter as African American and LGBT communities continue to work together for equal justice.
“I celebrate as more and more African American clergy engage in AAMLC’s Healing Grace dialogues and work to confront and overcome stigma, prejudice and homophobia in the Black Church. We continually seek to help and not harm, love and not hate, reconcile and not separate, unite and not divide -- and it's working.
“NOM’s explicit attempt to drive a wedge between the LGBT community and African Americans is deeply offensive, and it exposes the depravity of their politics.”
"The National Organization for Marriage's 'divide and conquer' tactics are desperate and despicable. African Americans, Latinos, and sexual minorities recognize injustice when they see it, and they recognize when they're being used. NOM has no standing in minority communities, and these documents further underscore this reality."Southern Poverty Law Center Director of Intelligence Mark Potok took much issue with NOM's standing with minority communities, and he didn't mince any words. Writing the SPLC's Hate Watch blog he said:
Have NOM’s principal leaders, former president Maggie Gallagher and current leader Brian S. Brown, stood up for African Americans before? Well, not so much. But it turns out that they’ve decided that you’re actually very important.He goes on to say:
NOM isn’t the first organization to use such cynical marketing ploys, schemes that seem to have little do with the interests of the people they claim to represent, and it certainly won’t be the last. But the revelation of its bald attempt to exploit black people and Latinos should help end the idea that NOM is an honorable group that would never engage in race-baiting. Because that is precisely what it has done.You want to see cynical? An old headache is back for Maggie and Brian. Former NOM staffer, Louis J. Marinelli who famously left NOM in 2011 after organizing their bus tour in 2010, is back. He's dumped some more documents of his own, including a full string of emails that detail Maggie Gallagher's "fixation"—his word, not mine—with ensuring the photographs that NOM distributed from their events were primariliy representing people of color:
In the following e-mail exchange which actually occurred a couple of weeks earlier, Maggie Gallagher again demonstrates her and her organization’s fixation on using the black community for the advancement of their cause.
"I believe these are COGIC bishops, black bishops. That's why I'm saying make sure we feature and focus on thejm [sic]
I need a close-up photo of Bishop Battle for the newsletter tomorrowThere are more than just emails in Marinelli's document dump. He's also released pdfs of more strategy memos and donor materials.
Does anyone have one they can send Eve Tushnet???
He's black, he's on our side, he's COGIC, I need a closeup please advice. [sic] Maggie
None of this is a surprise to anyone familiar with NOM, or with the bigger world of rough and tumble politics. Considering how heavily the National Organization for Marriage leans on the image of their great pious religious beliefs, it begs the question "who Jesus would foment a race war between?"
It seems there is no tactic too low, or too divisive, hurtful that they will not embrace it. MassEquality Executive Director Kara Suffredini nicely pointed out these tactics are a "problem in search of a solution." In other words, they are stirring up problems to further their aims, rather than just win the battle on the basis of their own superior arguments (which collapse when courts apply scrutiny to them).
"It has been obvious for years that one of the key strategies employed by opponents of marriage equality is to weaken Americans’ collective fairness by pitting parents against children, neighbors against neighbors, and minority groups against minority groups. The good news is, it’s not working. Seven national polls show that a majority of Americans now support marriage equality. This includes strong growth in support among African-Americans (from 32% to 50%) and among Hispanic voters by nearly 2 to 1, two communities specifically targeted in NOM’s secret strategy memos.Lesser noticed strategies from the memo suggested they would seek out the children of same-sex parents and encourage them to denounce their parents on video.
“Nonetheless, such toxic cynicism never ceases to be shocking. The casual tone with which NOM outlines how it will turn fair-minded Americans against each other solely to hurt LGBT families speaks for itself. This is the ugliest example of a “solution” in search of a problem.”
Now, there is zero evidence that LGBT Americans cannot parent as effectively as heterosexual parents, and much evidence they do. But it is also reasonable that like heterosexual parent, sometimes LGBT parents may have troubled moments in their relationships. That NOM would exploit those common moments and meddle in the private affairs of a family is really just reprehensible. The hurt and fissures they'd create in that family would probably have life-long consequences.
"The National Organization For Marriage has just shown the depth of it's contempt for our families," said Jennifer Chrisler, Executive director of the Family Equality Council. "Despite demonstrated efforts to recruit our children and dig up dirt on LGBT families they can't find any proof for their hateful rhetoric, and it's appalling that they would even try. As the lesbian mother of two happy, healthy well-adjusted children I will do what any parent would – stand up and protect my children. NOM will stop at nothing to demonize and delegitimize American families. So Family Equality Council will not stop until every child, including the two million with a parent who is LGBT, grows up free from the fear that a hate group is targeting their family.Which bring us back to our topic, where's Maggie? Does she have anything to say for her organization other than to say "it's a non-story" and must be a slow news day?
Oops, Update: Honest mistake?
Hopefully it will be rescheduled. Roberts says it will:
She's still got a lot of explaining to do.