Looking Back: NOM’s Top Five Race Baiting Moments Of 2011
March 27, 2012 1:49 pm ET by Carlos Maza
On Monday, the Human Rights Campaign published several internal documents from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) detailing the organization’s “strategy for winning the marriage battle.”
The documents describe a number of NOM’s anti-equality projects -- most notably their efforts to pit African Americans and Latinos against the LGBT community through race baiting and race-based activism.
While the bluntness of NOM’s strategy documents is unsettling, long-time NOM watchers shouldn’t be surprised. In May, NOM-defector Louis J. Marinelli testified that “exploiting” non-white supporters was part of NOM’s “public relations strategy.”
More importantly, NOM has continuously demonstrated its willingness to play the race card and fan racial tension in order to combat marriage equality. Here are five examples of the organization’s shameless race-baiting over just the past twelve months:
5. Obama Is “More Gay Than He Is Black.” During the October 5 edition of Lutheran Public Radio’s Issues, Etc., NOM’s Jennifer Morse railed against President Obama for comparing the struggle of the LGBT community to the African-American civil rights movement, saying:
MORSE: I think that [Obama’s] facile comparison of the gay rights movement with the historic civil rights movement that allowed African Americans the right to vote and everything else that was done for African Americans. That is an equation that is just appalling to the average African American person and I think honestly he’s shown people here in his speech, in this Human Rights Campaign speech that he made, he’s shown that he’s more gay than he is black.
Morse went on to claim that Obama was allegedly pandering to the LGBT community instead of African Americans because he thinks “blacks don’t have that much money.”
4. “They Will Steal It If We Do Nothing.” During the 2011 fight over marriage equality in New York, NOM produced and released a video titled “Will the Black Church Rise Up in New York For Marriage?” The video featured Rev. William Owens delivering a sermon in which he accused gays of trying to “steal” the civil rights movement from the African-American community:
REV. WILLIAM OWENS: It is our job as black people … let’s don’t let them take that from us and make it a sham and make a mockery of it.
OWENS: Don’t let them steal it. And they will steal it if we do nothing. They will steal it if we do nothing.
The video even displayed NOM materials being distributed at the church.
3. Sen. Ruben Diaz (D), NY’s Anti-Gay Hispanic Icon. When it wasn’t ginning up racial tension among African-American voters, NOM was doing everything in its power to mobilize New York Latinos against marriage equality. As Equality Matters noted in June:
NOM also relied heavily on State Senator Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx), the only Democrat who ended up voting against marriage equality, to act as an anti-gay spokesperson for the Hispanic and black communities. The organization worked tirelessly to paint Diaz as the victim of a hate campaign launched by proponents of marriage equality, perpetuating the myth that the push for same-sex marriage is actually an attack on racial minorities.
In reality, Diaz was the only member of the New York Senate’s Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus to vote against the bill (he eventually pulled out of the caucus due to “different philosophies”).
2. “I Wonder What The African-American Community Thinks.” In November, NOM’s Morse criticized a banner ad campaign in California encouraging gay couples to adopt children during National Adoption Month:
And look at the children in these posters. I wonder what the African-American community thinks about recruiting gay men to become foster parents for the children of their community who have been taken from their parents. Do the African-American pastors have any thoughts and opinions about this? I imagine they do. But I will let them speak for themselves. [emphasis added]
1. Maryland Del. Sam Arora And “White Urban Liberals.” Months before NOM got involved in the fight against marriage equality in New York, the group was working to defeat similar legislation in Maryland. In March, a press release quoted NOM’s Maggie Gallagher commending African American Democrats in the legislature for resisting pressure from “white urban liberals” to support gay marriage.
Eventually, it became clear that a handful of previously pro-equality delegates – including Indian American Del. Sam Arora (D-Montgomery County) -- were wavering in their support for the bill, provoking widespread condemnation from gay activists. In response, Gallagher wrote:
[A]s someone married to an Indian-American, I find it interesting that the gay marriage machine appears to be re-focusing its attacks from Black Democrats who oppose gay marriage to an easier target: Indian-Americans.
Tiffany Alston appears now to be off the hook regardless of how she votes.
After being called out for playing the race card, Gallagher backtracked:
Update: Some folks seem to think I'm accusing critics of Sam Arora of racism. Weird. Racism requires animus or bias towards a race, which I never suggested... It would be absurd to imagine that the people going after Sam don't like Indian-Americans.
It is not absurd to imagine that picking a fight with important black Democrats would pick a fight in two core bases of the Democratic party and that it could be perceived as good to avoid that.
Days later, however, Gallagher returned to her race-based tactics, writing:
Wow. Carter and Arora ended up saying they would vote for gay marriage, but go after them anyway. And of the 4 delegates he targets, three are African-American.
We've been accused of playing the race card before. But what is the Washington Blade urging?