Fact Check

NOM Shrugs Off, Mocks Widespread Condemnation Of Race-Baiting Documents

March 28, 2012 5:25 pm ET

On Monday, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released several internal documents it obtained from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), exposing the organization for intentionally making race-baiting a component of its anti-equality strategy. Although the documents have been condemned by a number of civil rights organizations, NOM spokespersons have thus far refused to apologize for their attempts to “drive a wedge between gays and blacks.

NOM Documents Reveal Strategy Of Intentional Race-Baiting

NOM Document: “The Strategic Goal Of This Project Is To Drive A Wedge Between Gays And Blacks.” From a 2009 document identifying NOM's “cultural strategies” for 2009 and beyond:

The strategic goal of this project 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. No politician wants to take up and push an issue that splits the base of the party. Fanning the hostility raised in the wake of Prop 8 is key to raising the costs of pushing gay marriage to its advocates and persuading the movement’s allies that advocates are unacceptably overreaching on this issue. [NOM Board Update, 2009, emphasis added]

NOM Document: NOM Should Make “Support For Marriage A Key Badge Of Latino Identity.” A 2009 document describing NOM”s “National Strategy for Winning the Marriage Battle” stated:

Will the process of assimilation to the dominant Anglo culture lead Hispanics to abandon traditional family values? We can interrupt this process of assimilation by making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity.


Here’s our insight: The number of “glamorous” people willing to buck the powerful forces to speak for marriage may be small in any one country. But by searching for these leaders across national boundaries we will assemble a community of next generation Latino leaders that Hispanics and other next generation elites in this country can aspire to be like. (As “ethnic rebels” such spokespeople will also have an appeal across racial lines, especially to young urbans in America.)


Our ultimate goal is to make opposition to gay marriage an identity marker, a badge of youth rebellion to conformist assimilation to the bad side of “Anglo” culture. [NOM strategy document, 8/11/09]

NOM Officials Dismiss Outrage Over Internal Documents

NOM’s Brian Brown: “We Proudly Bring Together People Of Different Races.” In a March 27 press release, NOM president Brian Brown responded to criticism over his organization’s internal documents, stating:

“The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) was formed in 2007 and has worked extensively with supporters of traditional marriage from every color, creed and background. We have worked with prominent African-American and Hispanic leaders, including Dr. Alveda C. King, Bishop George McKinney of the COGIC Church, Bishop Harry Jackson and the New York State Senator Reverend Rubén Díaz Sr., all of whom share our concern about protecting marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

“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. Gay marriage is not a civil right, and we will continue to point this out in written materials such as those released in Maine. We proudly bring together people of different races, creeds and colors to fight for our most fundamental institution: marriage.” [NOM press release, 3/27/12]

NOM’s Thomas Peters: “Left-Wing Angry That Diversity Is On The Side Of Marriage.” In a March 27 tweet, NOM’s cultural director Thomas Peters promoted his organization’s press release, adding “left-wing angry that diversity is on the side of marriage”:

[Thomas Peters tweet, 3/27/12]

NOM’s Maggie Gallagher: “Must Be A Slow News Day.” In a March 27 blog post for National Review Online, NOM co-founder and former chairwoman Maggie Gallagher dismissed BuzzFeed’s coverage of NOM’s internal documents, writing:

BuzzFeed Exclusive! NOM Thinks Gay Marriage Not a Civil Right!

It’s always amusing to watch the media go to work to generate a non-story. In this case, it’s about “secret” documents that show NOM reaches out to black and Latino churches to fight gay marriage.

NOM’s response is here.

Mine is: Must be a slow news day over at BuzzFeed. [National Review Online, 3/27/12]

NOM’s Gallagher: “Where’s The Evidence We Did Any Race-Baiting In This Time Period?” In the comments section of her blog post, a commenter claiming to be Maggie Gallagher – “Maggie 1960 Gallagher” – added:

Here's the fundamental problem with the narrative. This is about documents detailing what NOM plans to do in the past 2009 and 2010 I believe. Where's the evidence we did any race-bating in this time period. What did we say or do that is toxic or beyond the pale or remotely racist?

The organization's document uses language that I would call "inapt"--in part because its tremendously vain to think that I or NOm or any other White Christian conservtive can manipulate black or latino church leaders. I don't think so. [National Review Online, 3/27/12]

But NOM’s Been Widely Condemned For Race-Baiting, Anti-Gay Tactics

SPLC’s Mark Potok: Documents Help “End The Idea That NOM Is An Honorable Group.” In a March 27 HateWatch blog post, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) spokesman Mark Potok wrote:

NOM isn’t the first organization to use such cynical marketing ploys, schemes that seem to have little do with the interests of the people they claim to represent, and it certainly won’t be the last. But the revelation of its bald attempt to exploit black people and Latinos should help end the idea that NOM is an honorable group that would never engage in race-baiting. Because that is precisely what it has done. [SPLC, 3/27/12]

PFAW’s Minister Leslie Watson Malachi: NOM Documents Expose “The Depravity Of Their Politics.” In a March 27 press release, Minister Leslie Watson Malachi – director of People for the American Way (PFAW) Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council – stated:

“If the success of the National Organization of Marriage’s movement depends on stirring up resentment between communities, it might want to rethink its strategies.

“African American men and women of faith are not a political football to be tossed around in a cynical game of resentment and division. We, like all Americans, struggle thoughtfully with issues of faith, family and politics. Anti-equality activists such as NOM consistently attempt to use a deeply cynical ‘wedge’ strategy to divide African Americans and the gay community, playing up what are now old and tired cliches. In the long run, this strategy will falter as African American and LGBT communities continue to work together for equal justice.


“NOM’s explicit attempt to drive a wedge between the LGBT community and African Americans is deeply offensive, and it exposes the depravity of their politics.” [PFAW press release, 3/27/12]

Freedom To Marry’s Evan Wolfson: NOM Works To “Exploit Racism And Homophobia In Its Attacks On LGBT Americans.” In a March 27 email to supporters, Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson wrote:

Here's the smoking gun. 

We've long known that the so-called National Organization for Marriage's strategy is to pit Americans against Americans in its drive to enact its anti-gay political agenda.  Now, just-revealed internal strategy memos document how NOM has spent years -- and millions -- working to "drive a wedge between gays and blacks -- two key Democratic constituencies" toexploit racism and homophobia in its attacks on LGBT Americans.


It's clear from their own words that NOM, fueled by a shadowy handful of secret funders, will stop at nothing, including pitting minority against minority, family members against family members. It's a strategy they've employed in state after state where gay Americans and allies have had to fight back against brutal and well-financed campaigns of lies and distortion. [Freedom to Marry email, 3/27/12]

HRC’s Joe Solmonese: NOM Documents Are “A Game Changer.” In a comment for the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) NOM Exposed blog, HRC president Joe Solmonese said:

“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.” [HRC, 3/27/12]

NAACP’s Julian Bond: NOM’s Race-Baiting Is “Reprehensible.” From a March 27 Metro Weekly article:

NAACP chairman emeritus Julian Bond today noted in a statement, "NOM's underhanded attempts to divide will not succeed if Black Americans remember their own history of discrimination. Pitting bigotry's victims against other victims is reprehensible; the defenders of justice must stand together." [Metro Weekly3/27/12]

TWO’s Wayne Besen: NOM Strategy “Manufacture[s] Malice Between Communities That Didn’t Previously Exist.” During the March 28 edition of MSNBC Live, Truth Wins Out (TWO) executive director Wayne Besen said:

BESEN: This is incredibly disrespectful of African Americans and downright contemptuous of Latinos. Instead of the great American melting pot, what they’re trying to do is stir the pot of divisiveness. It’s mean-spirited. And the thing that really needs to be pointed out is not only does this divide entire communities, but this divides families. People are being rejected by their own parents because of such rhetoric. They’re being thrown out of their homes; they’re being bullied at schools. There’s a real disconnect with the National Organization for Marriage and their political memos that are dreamed up in Washington and what happens on the ground to real people. And what they’ve done, essentially, is manufacture malice between communities that didn’t previously exist. And that's incredibly harmful to people. [MSNBC Live3/28/12, via Equality Matters]

TWO’s John Becker: Documents “Reveal A Remarkably Cynical, Shrewd, Callous Organization.” In a March 27 blog post, TWO Director of Communications and Development John Becker wrote:

Even though we knew -- or at least suspected -- that this was going on, reading NOM's putridly divisive strategy in print is remarkably unsettling. The newly released documents reveal a remarkably cynical, shrewd, callous organization that is willing to say and do whatever it takes -- be it blatant race baiting, spreading anti-gay lies through propaganda campaigns, or using religious leaders as weapons with which to bludgeon LGBT people from the pulpits and in their parishes -- in order to prevent loving, committed same-sex couples from winning the freedom to marry. And they're not satisfied with bullying LGBT people at home, either; they also seek to spread their hateful bigotry across the world. The fallout from these damning revelations could and should be widespread and far-reaching. Stay tuned: we may well be witnessing the beginning of the end of the National Organization for Marriage. [TWO, 3/27/12]

Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams: NOM Exposed As “Dumber And More Consciously Hateful Than We’d Ever Given [Them] Credit For.” In a March 27 column, Salon staff writer Mary Elizabeth Williams wrote:

Way to go, NOM. You’ve not only been exposed as dumber and more consciously hateful than we’d ever given you credit for, you’re got the chutzpah to now pull the old shtick of acting like your creepy philosophy is some big, beautiful tent. I guess if exploiting minorities because you hate homosexuals so much is something you think really brings people together, um, maybe? But meanwhile the rest of us – gay and straight, dark- and light-skinned – are going to keep drinking our gay lattes, advocating for civil rights, and eagerly awaiting your next boneheaded, self-justifying and disastrously backfiring move. [Salon, 3/27/12]

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