HRC Reveals Anti-Gay Group’s Strategies: ’Drive Wedge Between Gays and Blacks’
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) got hold of several highly confidential documents from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) -- an anti-gay group bent on preventing marriage equality in America. The files, which NOM tried to keep private from the public, were unsealed in Maine yesterday afternoon. The documents outline NOM’s multi-year plan to stop marriage equality, which include strategies "to drive a wedge between gays and blacks."
HRC says that the documents are part of an ongoing investigation by Maine, which is looking into NOM’s financial activities. In 2009, NOM led a successful campaign to ban same-sex marriage in the state but after complaints were filed, the Maine Ethic Commission launched a formal investigation into NOM’s fundraising campaign.
A report titled "NOM Deposition Exhibit 25: National Organization for Marriage Board Update 2008-2009" says, "The strategic goal...is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks -- two key Democratic constituencies. 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..."
It is not uncommon for people to equate the gay rights movement with the Civil Rights movement but many black leaders and activists say they are two different issues. The debate has created a large separation between the two communities. However, many gay rights activists, both white and non-white, say the issue comes from a combination of religious fundamentalism, cunning right-wing political operatives and well-funded powerful religious institutions such as the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Latter Day Saints.
One of the most eye-opening examples of the divide took place in November 2008 when exit-polling data in California showed that several black voters were in favor of Prop. 8. A number of gays reacted strongly to the results as some YouTube videos showed demonstrations where angry gay men use the "N" word towards blacks.
NOM’s report also targets the Latino community. The document goes on to say that that organization considers the Latino vote as a "swing vote," and question if Latinos will "abandon traditional family values."
"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."
"Nothing beats hearing from the horse’s mouth exactly how callous and extremist this group really is," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "Such brutal honesty is a game changer, and this time NOM can’t spin and twist its way out of creating an imagined rift between LGBT people and African Americans or Hispanics."
Working With Blacks & Hispanics
NOM’s president, Brian Brown, issued a brief statement pointing to his organization’s work with the black and Latino community.
"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," Brown said. "Gay marriage is not a civil right, and we will continue to point this out in written materials such as those released in Maine," Brown added. "We proudly bring together people of different races, creeds and colors to fight for our most fundamental institution: marriage."
Other memos point out NOM’s failed attempts at banning gay marriage from states that already recognize marriage equality. One report, titled "2010 Priority: Roll Back Gay Marriage in New Hampshire, Iowa, and D.C.," says that the organization wants to keep "gay marriage controversial in Massachusetts, Vermont, and Connecticut." But none of these states or District of Columbia has repealed same-sex marriage.
In the "NOM Deposition Exhibition 25" document, the organization details its finances. NOM planned on spending $100,000 on a "study of what schools are teaching in gay marriage/civil union regimes." The organization planned on spending an additional $150,000 on "videotaping stories of those supposedly harmed by marriage equality called ’The Faces of the Victims’ project." The document also said NOM would spend $60,000 on an "outreach coordinator to identify children of gay parents willing to speak on camera."
"These documents confirm my worst beliefs about NOM’s cynical politicking," said Jeremy Hooper, editor and publisher of Good As You and NOM Exposed partner. "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."
Who’s the Real Victim Here?
According to the documents, the organization wanted to portray itself as "victims" and planned to tell American citizens that they are under attack by the gay rights movement.
"Gay marriage is the tip of the spear, the weapon that will be and is being used to marginalize and repress Christianity and the Church," the document says. It also said that same-sex marriage "affects economic performance, expands the regulatory and taxing powers of government, and threatens the family businesses that generate economic growth and prosperity."
HRC says that NOM is no longer just focused on working against legalizing same-sex marriage. With the organization’s "American Principles Project" NOM will now try to "expose Obama as a social radical" by "develop[ing] side issues" like "pornography."
More shockingly the documents say that NOM will take their movement to an international level.
"The movement for gay marriage is global. The counter revolution protecting marriage needs to have a similar international reach."
HRC’s statement claims that NOM is "fighting a losing battle with strategy and tactics that are racially and ethnically divisive, filled with false political calculations, and out of touch with the majority of fair-minded Americans."
"With the veil lifted, Americans everywhere can now see the ugly politics that the National Organization for Marriage traffics in every day," Solmonese said in a statement. "While loving gay and lesbian couples seek to make lifelong commitments, NOM plays racial politics, tries to hide donors and makes up lies about people of faith. The contrast could not be any starker."
"The reason that Americans are steadily moving in the direction of marriage equality is because they identify with the loving and committed couples who want to enter into the institution, not NOM’s underhanded tactics of lies and manipulation," he said.
Gay rights organizations responded to NOM’s exposure by HRC, including Freedom to Marry’s founder and president, Evan Wolfson.
"In its anti-gay crusade to block the freedom to marry, NOM has spent years working to drive wedges within communities across the nation, all the while claiming it does not ’hate’ anyone, gay or non-gay," Wolfson said. "Now exposure of NOM’s own strategy memos confirms that NOM will stop at nothing to push its agenda, pitting American against American, minority against minority, family members against family members."
"NOM’s wedge-strategy memos detail its campaign to funnel money to a handful of African-American clergy in order to attack gay couples and, appallingly, discredit the strong and clear voice of those African-American civil rights champions, such as John Lewis, Julian Bond, and Coretta Scott King, who have stood up for the freedom to marry and the equal civil rights of all people, including gay people of color," he added.
Mass Equality Executive Director Kara Suffredini also made a statement.
"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," Suffredini said. "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.
"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."
This isn’t the first time that NOM has been busted by HRC. In September 2010, HRC and the Courage Campaign launched "NOM Exposed" -- a website that showcased all of NOM’s lies and tactics against the LGBT community. The site had detailed profiles of NOM leaders and prominent supporters. It also showed the organization’s links to the Latter-Day Saints and the Catholic Church as well as conservative anti-gay groups like Focus on the Family. A few months later the Southern Poverty Law Center included NOM on its list of anti-gay groups.
In October 2011, the blog "Good As You" discovered that NOM used photo manipulation on its website by posting photos of crowds supporting Obama on his 2008 campaign but made them appear as if the crowds were actually NOM supporters. Once the story made national headlines, NOM took down the photos from its website.