Fact Check

NOM Mailer Warns Of Marriage Equality’s “Legal Consequences” In NY-9 Special Election

September 12, 2011 2:49 pm ET

New York State Assemblyman and marriage equality supporter David Weprin is currently campaigning to replace former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) in the U.S. House of Representatives. The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which has pledged $75,000 to defeat Weprin, recently released a series of mailers in New York attacking him for voting in favor of the state’s marriage equality law. One mailer warns of the “legal consequences” of same-sex marriage, rehashing a number of known falsehoods about states that have moved to recognize gay and lesbian relationships.

[via Good As You, 9/9/11]

NOM: Gay Marriage Will Be Taught In Public Schools

CLAIM: Massachusetts Schoolchildren Are Being Forced To Learn About Gay Sex And Same-Sex Marriage:

Massachusetts second graders were taught in class that boys can marry other boys. They were force-fed a book in class called “King & King” about a prince who marries another prince. Federal courts ruled parents had no constitutional right to object. [NOM Mailer, via Good As You, 9/9/11]

REALITY: PolitiFact Has Rated NOM’s Claim “False.” After investigating NOM’s claim, Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact concluded:

Bottom line: The National Organization for Marriage mailing says that Massachusetts public schools teach kindergartners about gay marriage. The wording, including the present tense verb, gives the impression this is happening now, in many schools.

But the group’s only evidence is two incidents five years ago. It’s possible that somewhere, in one of the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts, other kindergartners have been taught about same-sex marriage. But NOM couldn’t cite any other examples. We find its statement False. [PolitiFact, 2/10/11]

NOM: Marriage Equality Leads To Gay Sex Education

CLAIM: Massachusetts Middle School Students Were Taught “How To Perform Lesbian Sex”:

A lesbian middle-school sex-ed instructor in Massachusetts taught her students how to perform lesbian sex. When asked about parent protests, she said, “Give me a break, it (gay marriage) is legal now.” [NOM Mailer, via Good As You, 9/9/11]

REALITY: Gay-Friendly Sex Education Programs Existed Before Massachusetts’ Marriage Equality Law. From the September 13, 2004, edition of National Public Radio’s All Things Considered:

SMITH: But many teachers say they're less afraid now since the high court decision legalizing gay marriage. Deb Allen teaches eighth-grade sex ed in Brookline. She keeps a picture of her lesbian partner and their kids on her desk and gay equality signs on the wall. Allen says she's already been teaching a gay-friendly curriculum for nearly a decade, but she says she does begin this year feeling a bit more emboldened.

Ms. DEB ALLEN (Eighth-Grade Teacher): In my mind, I know that, `OK, this is legal now.' If somebody wants to challenge me, I'll say, `Give me a break. It's legal now.' [NPR, 9/13/04, via Nexis, emphasis added]

NOM: Kindergartners Will Be Taken To Same-Sex Weddings

CLAIM: California Kindergarteners Were Taken A Lesbian Wedding:

California kindergartners were taken to a lesbian wedding. The school called it a “teachable moment.” [NOM Mailer, via Good As You, 9/9/11]

REALITY: California First-Graders Were Allowed To Attend Their Teacher’s Wedding As A Field Trip. According to the San Francisco Chronicle:

A group of San Francisco first-graders took an unusual field trip to City Hall on Friday to toss rose petals on their just-married lesbian teacher - putting the public school children at the center of a fierce election battle over the fate of same-sex marriage.

The 18 Creative Arts Charter School students took a Muni bus and walked a block at noon to toss rose petals and blow bubbles on their just-married teacher Erin Carder and her wife Kerri McCoy, giggling and squealing as they mobbed their teacher with hugs. [San Francisco Chronicle, 10/11/08]

  • The Field Trip Was A Parent’s Idea, Not The School’s. According to the San Francisco Chronicle: "A parent came up with the idea for the field trip - a surprise for the teacher on her wedding day." [San Francisco Chronicle, 10/11/08]
  • Students Were Allowed To Opt Out Of The Field Trip. According to the San Francisco Chronicle: "As is the case with all field trips, parents had to give their permission and could choose to opt out of the trip. Two families did. Those children spent the duration of the 90-minute field trip back at school with another first-grade class, the interim director said." [San Francisco Chronicle, 10/11/08]

NOM: Students Will Be Taught That They Can “Be Both Genders”

CLAIM: California Public Schools Invited “Gender Diversity” Consultants To Talk To Students:

California public schools invited a “gender diversity” consultant into fourth grade classes to teach kids they can choose to be a boy, or a girl, or be both genders! [NOM Mailer, via Good As You, 9/9/11]

REALITY: Gender Diversity Lesson Took One Hour, And Had Nothing To Do With Same-Sex Marriage. According to the San Francisco Chronicle:

A one-hour elementary school lesson on gender diversity featuring all-girl geckos and transgender clownfish caused a stir in Oakland on Monday, with conservative legal defense organizations questioning the legitimacy of the topic and providing legal counsel to parents who opposed the instruction.

On Monday and today, Redwood Heights Elementary School students at every grade level were being introduced to the topic of gender diversity, with lesson plans tailored to each age group.

The lesson on gender differences was one small part of a much larger effort to offer what parents last year said they wanted at the school: a warm, welcoming, safe and caring environment for all children, said Principal Sara Stone. [San Francisco Chronicle, 5/24/11]

NOM: Catholic Adoption Agencies Will Be Forced To Shut Down

CLAIM: Catholic Charities Have Been Forced To Stop Providing Adoption Services Due To Same-Sex Marriage:

Catholic Charities in Massachusetts, Washington, DC and Illinois have been forced to close their adoption agencies because they believe that children should have both a mother and a father. [NOM Mailer, via Good As You, 9/9/11]

REALITY: Massachusetts’ Charities Chose To Stop Providing Adoption Services. According to the Gay & Lesbian Advocated & Defenders (GLAD) blog:

So here’s a little reality check. Catholic Charities of Boston was not forced out of the adoption business because of marriage equality in Massachusetts. The organization voluntarily ceased doing adoptions after the state’s four Catholic Bishops got wind that gay parents had been adopting kids through Catholic Charities from an October 2005 Boston Globe story. Not surprisingly, all of this happened as the Massachusetts Legislature was wrestling with whether to put an anti-gay marriage amendment on the statewide ballot, which the local Catholic hierarchy supported wholeheartedly.


Catholic Charities was accepting state funds to provide adoption services and was thus bound by the state’s gay-inclusive anti-discrimination law not to reject qualified adoptive parents based on sexual orientation. Oh, and by the way, the non-discrimination law has been on the books since 1989—long before marriage equality was but a doodle on Mary Bonauto’s legal pad. [GLAD Blog, 3/10/11]

REALITY: Catholic Adoption Agencies Can Still Choose To Discriminate Against Same-Sex Couples In Private Adoption Services. Steve Major, director of communications of the Family Equality Council, wrote in an email to Equality Matters:

Catholic Charities facilitates relatively few public adoptions nationwide. In areas where they’ve declined to comply with existing non-discrimination rules and stopped doing public placements (Massachusetts, D.C., parts of California – and will be the likely result in IL where the issue is still working its way through the state courts) there has been little to no impact on the state’s ability to place children. Other adoption agencies have agreed to step in and continue the work of finding children their forever families.

Catholic Charities and other religiously affiliated organizations who receive public funding should be obligated to follow the same non-discrimination laws that other agencies adhere to.  If they place their own religious objections ahead of the law and the best interests of kids, they should withdraw from conducting public adoptions. They are free to continue facilitating private adoptions. [Email exchange, 9/9/11, emphasis added]

REALITY: New York State Law Already Prohibits Discrimination In Adoption Services. According to Lambda Legal:

Consistent with the best interests of children, New York law and policy already prohibits discriminating against lesbian and gay adults and couples in the area of adoption, whether or not these adults are granted the right to marry in New York. Many lesbian and gay adults have adopted children from the foster care system, giving loving homes to children in need.

Domestic Relations Law § 110 provides that “[a]n adult married person, an adult married couple together, or any two unmarried adult intimate partners together may adopt another person.”

New York State regulations require that State-supervised private adoption agencies providing foster care and adoption services, including faith-based and non-faith-based agencies alike, not discriminate against lesbian and gay adults applying to adopt children in foster care. 18 NYCRR § 421.16(h)(2) specifically provides that “Applicants shall not be rejected solely on the basis of homosexuality.” Thus, already adoption agencies working with children in the foster care system are prohibited from discriminating against lesbian and gay prospective adoptive parents, whether these adults are married or not. [Lambda Legal, accessed 9/9/11]

NOM: Religious Organizations Will Lose Their Tax-Exempt Status For Not Performing Same-Sex Weddings

CLAIM: A New Jersey Religious Organization Lost Tax Exempt Status For Not Helping Perform A Civil Union Ceremony:

A religious organization in New Jersey had its tax exemption partially revoked because it would not make its private property available for gay civil union ceremonies, which are against their religious teachings.

REALITY: A New Jersey Methodist Association Lost Part Of Its Real Estate Tax Exemption For Prohibiting A Same-Sex Couple From Using Its Pavilion. According to the New York Times:

A boardwalk pavilion in the seaside town of Ocean Grove, N.J. that has been at the center of a battle over gay civil union ceremonies has lost its tax-exempt status because the state ruled it no longer met the requirements as a place open to all members of the public.

In a letter to the administrator of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a Methodist organization that owns the pavilion property, the state commissioner of environmental protection, Lisa Jackson, declined to recertify the pavilion as eligible for a real estate tax exemption it has enjoyed since 1989 under the state’s Green Acres Program, but did renew the tax-exempt status of the rest of the boardwalk and the beach, also owned by the association.

The issue arose after the association, which has owned the land, the beach and 1,000 feet of the sea itself since 1870, rejected the requests of two lesbian couples to have their civil union ceremonies at the Boardwalk Pavilion.


Every three years since 1989, the association has applied for, and received, tax exemptions for its boardwalk, beach and the pavilion under the Green Acres Program, designed to encourage the use of privately owned lands for public recreation and conservation. This is the first time any part of its application has been turned down.

Facing a deadline of last Saturday mandated by the Green Acres rules, [state commissioner of environmental protection Lisa] Jackson said it was important to make clear where her department stood on the definition of open property.

“When people hear the words ‘open space,’ we want them to think not just of open air and land, but that it is open to all people,” said Ms. Jackson. “And when the public subsidizes it with tax breaks, it goes with the expectation that it is not going to be parsed out, whether it be by activity or any particular beliefs.” [New York Times, 9/18/07, emphasis added]

NOM: Wedding Photographers Will Be Fined For Not Servicing Same-Sex Couples

CLAIM: A New Mexico Wedding Photographer Was Fined For Not Photographing A Same-Sex Couple:

A New Mexico wedding photographer was found guilty and fined for refusing to photograph a gay “commitment” ceremony against her religious beliefs.

REALITY: The Photographer Was Fined Under New Mexico’s Non-Discrimination Law, Not A Marriage Equality Law. According to the Albuquerque Journal:

The state Human Rights Commission ruled this week that an Albuquerque wedding photographer discriminated against her would-be client by refusing to shoot a same-sex commitment ceremony.

Vanessa Willock filed a civil complaint with the labor department's Human Rights Bureau in 2006, saying Elaine Huguenin, co-owner of Albuquerque's Elane Photography, told her in an e-mail that she only photographed "traditional" marriages and would not photograph same-sex ceremonies.

In an order issued Wednesday, a panel of commissioners ruled that Huguenin discriminated against Willock based on sexual orientation and ordered Elane Photography to pay Willock's attorney's fees of $6,637.93.


State law prohibits discrimination based on sex, race, religion and sexual orientation in the areas of employment, housing, credit or public accommodation.

State law does not, however, recognize a marriage between two members of the same sex

Francie Cordova, the [New Mexico Human Rights] bureau's labor relations director, said the case fell under public accommodation. [Albuquerque Journal, 4/11/08]

NOM Has A History Of Using Mailers To Promote Anti-Gay Misinformation

NOM’s Maryland Mailers Promoted Hate Group Propaganda. In Maryland, NOM sent out anti-marriage equality mailers that echoed the talking points of MassResistance, a group that’s been designated an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. [Equality Matters, 3/3/11]

NOM’s New York Mailers Accused Marriage Equality Supporters Of Wanting To “Poison Young Minds.” In the run up to the passage of New York’s marriage equality bill, NOM released mailers warning that marriage equality would “forever change the innocence of our kids” and was an “excuse to poison young minds.” [Equality Matters, 5/16/11]

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