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NOM’s Brian Brown Gets Slammed On MSNBC

August 05, 2011 4:45 pm ET by Carlos Maza

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) can’t be too happy about how its president, Brian Brown, performed during an interview on MSNBC Live today. While touting his organization’s recently-released presidential marriage pledge, Brown faced a pretty tough grilling from MSNBC host Thomas Roberts:

The interview had some great moments, and some not-so-great ones. Let’s break it down:

Great: Roberts Calls NOM Out For Ignoring Divorce. Roberts astutely noticed out that NOM’s marriage pledge contains no mention of any effort to reduce the rate[[s]] of divorce in America. This is a point that Roberts has made before, but Brown still hasn’t come up with a good answer to it. Brown couldn’t name, for example, a single thing NOM has done organizationally to prevent divorces. NOM fights against anti-bullying, anti-discrimination, and generally pro-LGBT efforts whenever it can, but has yet to demonstrate its interest in working to actually stop the dissolution of current marriages. 

Not-So-Great: Brown Claims Marriage Equality Leads To Polygamy. Brown claimed that Jonathan Turley, a prominent American legal scholar, was using the same arguments used to justify same-sex marriage in order to “claim that polygamy should be legalized” in Utah. Brown’s statement is highly misleading. Turley is working to overturn a Utah law that institutes criminal penalties for married couples that privately claim to also be married to people outside of their recognized marriage.  As Turley wrote on his personal blog:

We are not demanding the recognition of polygamous marriage. We are only challenging the right of the state to prosecute people for their private relations and demanding equal treatment with other citizens in living their lives according to their own beliefs.

Great: Roberts Notes Divorce Rates Have Dropped In Marriage Equality States. Following up on his earlier point, Roberts pointed out that states that have legalized same-sex marriage have actually seen a drop in their divorce rates in subsequent years. He cited an article from U.S. News & World Report, which is based on statistics taken from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Centers for Disease Control’s National Vital Statistics System. Roberts’ point further demonstrated that, when it comes to marriage, NOM is much more concerned with keeping gay couples out than it is with keeping straight couples in.

Not-So-Great: Brown Claims Gay Marriage Will Be Taught In Schools. Brown claimed that legalizing gay marriage will force kids to have to learn about same-sex relationships. It’s a claim that NOM has pushed in New York and Maryland. It’s also a claim that’s been rated “false” by the non-partisan, Pulitzer prize-winning organization PolitiFact. Unfortunately, Brown has never let the truth get in the way of his anti-gay talking points.

Great: Roberts Points Out That Voting On Minority Rights Is A Bad Idea. After Brown asked why the LGBT community was opposed to putting marriage equality up for a vote, Roberts gave him an obvious answer: the rights of a minority group should never be subjected to the tyranny of the majority. As Equality Matters has documented, people like Brown and NOM’s Maggie Gallagher support “let the people vote” efforts because they know they can manipulate public opinion by disseminating anti-gay propaganda.

There’s no real way to view this segment as having gone well for Brown. Not only did Roberts come to the interview armed with background research, he refused to let Brown get away with his typical, baseless anti-gay talking points.

This is how journalists should behave when dealing with anti-gay groups like NOM: hope for honesty, but prepare for an endless supply of misinformation. 


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