NOM’s Morse: Avoiding Discussions Of Homosexuality Is A “Strategic” Choice
July 03, 2012 5:28 pm ET by Carlos Maza
Despite its history of anti-gay rhetoric, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) insists that its “battle is not with an orientation.” According to one senior NOM official, however, the group’s reluctance to directly smear gays and lesbians is a political decision, not an ethical one.
On February 16, Jennifer Morse, head of the National Organization for Marriage’s (NOM) Ruth Institute, spoke at an event at a Maryland church where she explained her opposition to marriage equality.
After her speech, Morse was asked by an audience member about the best way to explain to people how “homosexuality can be considered perhaps a psychological disorder.” In response, Morse explained:
MORSE: I am not a psychologist. I am not a therapist. And I take no position on this question. Okay? And there’s a very specific reason why I don’t apart from the fact that I don’t know very much about it. I mean I know something about it, but I have made the decision, the National Organization for Marriage has made a decision that when we argue about the marriage question, the question is about marriage, the question is not about homosexuality or persons who are same-sex attracted. And we made that decision in Prop 8 and we think it served us very well, actually. In other words, the issue is not what do we think about gay people, the issue is what do we think about marriage. So that question is an important question, a very important question, but I would prefer not to deal with it at this time, in this context. There are plenty of people who can help you deal with it. But I want you to understand it’s a particular strategic question to stay focused on marriage because I think if you get off into the question of what is homosexuality, what are the origins of it, can it be changed, so on and so forth, you’ve now moved the ground onto the subject that they want to talk about.
It’s important to note that Morse isn’t being honest when she claims she hasn’t focused on criticizing homosexuality. In fact, both Morse and NOM’s Ruth Institute have an extensive history of directly attacking homosexuality, including linking homosexuality to pedophilia, condemning homosexuality as unhealthy, deviant, and addictive, and mocking anal sex.
Still, Morse’s confession says a lot about NOM’s motivation for at least attempting to avoid blatant anti-gay rhetoric. Morse’s reluctance to call homosexuality a “psychological disorder” is not due to her respect for gays and lesbians; it’s a “strategic” choice. She doesn’t want to criticize homosexuality because she knows that anti-gay rhetoric tends to poll poorly with the general public, not because she actually objects to the idea that gay people suffer from a psychological disorder.
NOM’s never done a great job of hiding its anti-gay animus, but these kinds of comments do a lot to illuminate what NOM really means when it claims its “battle is not with an orientation.”