President Brian Brown (second from right) at a NOM sponsored hate rally in Bronx, NY, 2011 (JoeMyGod
NOM's confidential strategy (NOM Exposed, pdf
National Organization for Marriage's dirty little secrets continue to spill out. When they failed to appropriately disclose their donors in 2009 to state elections officials, they found themselves in court, squaring off with the state of Maine. And they lost, in trial court and appeals, and recently the Supreme Court declined their appeal. Now, for NOM the post-litigation document dump
is looking like it's going to be a real public relations nightmare for them. It arrives courtesy of Human Rights Campaign's NOM Exposed project.
Their confidential document, "National Strategy For Winning The Marriage Battle," has been released to the public and it's a doozy. Dated Dec. 15, 2009, the group appears heady after their Prop 8 victory. They speak in grandiose terms of how they'll roll back marriage equality progress in Iowa, New Hampshire and DC. Well, that clearly hasn't gone their way.
They describe a "Faces of Victims" rapid response team with a goal to feature the heart-wrenching stories of people harmed by marriage equality, in pictures, video and media appearances. That seems to have been a non-starter, still waiting for them to post the tearful videos the rapid response team creates. Perhaps in two and half years, since they are still searching furiously for a victim to feature? It certainly hasn't turned into NOM's version of "It gets better" share-your-story, watch-it-go-viral social media sensation.
They plot to recruit glamorous celebrities to serve as spokespeople. Well, they found Kirk Cameron, Stephen Baldwin (the washed-up one, not the funny one on 30 Rock; he supports marriage equality). And they rallied around Carrie "Miss Opposite Marriage" Prejean until, well, video evidence surfaced that she might actually enjoy sex. Then they scrubbed every mention of her from their website.
One thing they have followed through on is their own version of the Southern Strategy, this time with anti-gay bigotry. To anyone paying attention, it has been obvious that National Organization for Marriage has been doing their best to stoke division between communities of color and the LGBT community. Jeremy Hooper at GoodAsYou blog has lots of evidence, 13 examples in this post alone.
But these new documents have surfaced that confirm it's a carefully planned, coldly calculated strategy as contemptible as when the Republicans stoked white racism to raise their prospects to elect President Nixon. The cynicism and malice is breathtaking. It's also divide and conquer politics 101.
The evidence after the fold.
"Not A Civil Right" Project
The most naked and explosive disclosure comes in a document presented as a report to the board of directors. It reveals with astonishingly stark clarity the cynical racial manipulation strategy that drives National Organization for Marriage's political strategies, and their aim of "fanning the hostility" to achieve their goals.
Page 12 of Exhibit 25 reads:
“The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks—two key Democratic constiuencies. Find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage; develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots. No politiician wants to take up and push an issue that splits the base of the party. Fanning the hostility raised in the wake of Prop 8 is key to raising the cost of pushing gay marriage to its advocates and persauding the movement's allies that advocates are unacceptably overreaching on this issue. Consider pushing a marriage amendment in Washington D.C.; find attractive young black Democrats to challenge white gay marriage advocates electorally.”
The strategy brochure pictured above was presented as Exhibit 12 in a NOM deposition and echoes the same theme:
"Democratic power bosses are increasingly inclined to privilege the concerns of gay rights groups over the values of African Americans. A strategic goal of this project is to amplify the voice and power of the black Americans within the Democratic Party."
Well, the African American voices that oppose marriage equality. I have a feeling they won't be seeking to "amplify" African American Newark, NJ Mayor Corey Booker's voice.
NAACP's Ben Jealous
and Julian Bond
haven't been singing NOM's tune either.
Another section details their $1M budget for targeting African Americans with ad buys and robo-calls in "black neighborhoods" that also includes $60,000 in "black blogger" payouts.
The heart of divisive politics. Too bad for them African American legislators were some of New York and Maryland's most committed marriage equality sponsors.
The Latino Project: A Pan-American Strategy
Another passage seeks to play off the growing Latino population's cultural pride by tying opposition to marriage equality to their cultural identity. It seeks to "interrupt this process of assimilation" that has Latinos blending with their communities.
"The Latino vote in America is a key swing vote, and will be so even more so in the future, both because of demographic growth and inherent uncertainty: Will the process of assimilation to the dominant Anglo culture lead Hispanics to abandon traditional family values? We must interrupt this process of assimilation by making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity - a symbol of resistance to inappropriate assimilation."
This has not been a fruitful path for NOM. In reality, Latinos are pretty supportive. In a Public Religion Research Institute poll
of 3,351 Californians conducted in 2010, 57 percent of Latino Catholics support marriage equality. Evangelical Latinos are the minority within the minority.
You do occasionally see NOM making nice with Latino evangelicals, like when they featured Rev. Ariel Torres Ortega of Radio Visión Cristiana at a their rally in the Bronx in 2011. During the course of his speech, Rev. Ortega told the crowd gays "are worthy to death." This pronouncement did not raise any objections from NOM President Brian Brown or any other attendees who were present to hear it.
State Emergency Reserve Fund
Also interesting is the "State Emergency Reserve Fund" described on page 16 of the brochure. They describe the need for a $1.5–2M slush fund to be held in reserve to stop marriage equality activists when they begin to make progress at state levels. They say state level campaign donor disclosure laws present "a serious hurdle," and as such, the fund is needed because:
[I]f NOM makes a contribution from its own resources that are not specificially designated for one of these efforts donor identities are NOT disclosed. It is critical we have a reserve fund to give to these efforts to ensure victory and protect donor identity.
This seems a particularly incriminating passage as they seem to be cognizant of state disclosure laws and intentionally creating a slush fund they can use to end-run around them.
NOM has been investigated by election boards in every state in which it has operated. Minnesota is already investigating them for the 2012 cycle for refusing to comply with disclosure laws, this is a very telling passage about their plans and intent to avoid rule of law. Is pre-planning to break election laws not evidence of criminal intent?
Is it time for the Department of Justice to consider opening a RICO investigation?
"Sideswiping Obama ($1 million American Principles Project)"
There is one African American whose voice they have no interest in amplifying, President Obama. They're hopping mad he's opposed to the Defense of Marriage act, and see that as a huge opportunity.
NOM describes their strategy to reignite the culture war and make President Obama the flashpoint on page 12 of Exhibit 25, of another document referred to as a Board update (PDF
Expose Obama as a social radical. Develop side issues to weaken pro-gay marriage equality leaders and parties and develop an activist base of socially conservative and Chrisitan voters. Raise such issues as pornography, protection of children, and the need to oppose all efforts to weaken religious liberty at the federal level.
They have certainly managed to get all the troops in line on the "Obama's taking my religious freedom!" talking point. From Rick Perry to the Catholic bishops to Fox News it's all the poutrage in conservative politics right now.
They have a whole section describing how they would like to affect the 2012 race for the presidency. Arguably, they have. They coerced every GOP candidate except Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman to sign the pledge to amend constitution to ban marriage equality and appoint a special presidential commission to investigate gay and lesbian people.
This may please NOM, but their influence hasn't exactly been a plus for the Republican party. NOM has stumped in multiple states for Rick Santorum. They appear to be chummy as far back as 2009, with Santorum saying he'd expressed interest in being a spokesperson for NOM.
Tireless NOM watcher, Jeremy Hooper from GoodAsYou, is quoted as saying:
"These documents confirm my worst beliefs about NOM's cynical politicking. It's hard to find joy in such divisive political games, but I'm certainly glad we know NOM's hurtful plans now before more folks are hurt.”
I agree, and I can't say any of this surprises me in the least. The head of the organization, Maggie Gallagher took a pay check for years from the Bush administration
and didn't disclose to readers of her syndicated newspaper column that she was being paid to write glorious things about Bush's social programs. Gallagher has throughout her lifetime repeatedly proved herself untrustworthy and a morally and ethically bankrupt individual.
And lord knows, the founding funders of NOM, the Mormons have their own ugly history with race. And the other funders, the Catholic hierarchy, well, 'nuff said about what they have historically done to get their way.
Still, it's nice to have a smoking gun, courtesy of the attorney general of the great state of Maine. What a shameful and hideous display of craven, hateful, divisive politics.
I always knew National Organization for Marriage's house of cards would fall when they were eventually forced by law to show us what's behind the curtain. Anyone who ever saw the movie 8: The Mormon Proposition already knows, actually. But, I'm sure this is just the first of many shoes to drop.
Whether these disclosures actually cause NOM any headaches will likely hinge on whether the mainstream media decides to report on them. Certainly with marriage equality battles heating up in North Carolina, Minnesota, Maine, Washington and Maryland, Maggie and Brian will be vying for time on the air to opine about how gays are ruining society. It will hopefully cross the news people's minds to ask them to explain their political tactics and plans for "sideswiping" the president's agenda with a trumped up culture war.
We can hope.
Update: This is getting better MSM pick-up than I would have expected.
MSNBC's Thomas Roberts reported on it this morning.
It has also made the New York Times Caucus Blog, with pretty good thorough coverage. Ben Smith, late of Politico, now at BuzzFeed jumped on this story last night.
He has this update from NOM's 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. Aveeda King, Bishop George McKinney of the COGIC Church, Bishop Harry Jackson and the New York State Sen. Reverend Rubén Díaz Sr., all of whom share our concern about protecting marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Gay marriage advocates have attempted to portray same-sex marriage as a civil right, and 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.
So some of their best friends are black. That makes this ok. Also, they admit fanning hostility between Americans is their goal.
Update 2: Ok, this story is at Slate, Huff Post, Wall Street Journal, everywhere. Looks like it won't be easy for NOM to hide from this.