February 29, 2012 1:48 pm ET - by Carlos Maza
Last September, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) launched the Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance, awebsite dedicated to documenting Americans who’ve had their “rights and dignity” denied by supporters of marriage equality. According to NOM president Brian Brown:
Each week or so you will see another video, another face of a human being whose rights and dignity are denied by too many gay-marriage advocates. (Yes, we know there are exceptions-we hope that people on both sides of this debate step up to the plate to deplore these injustices!)
This is just the beginning of a huge new step, a blow for liberty, for justice, for community and for civility to ALL sides in the gay marriage debate.
Marriage ADA is our unique, fruitful response to this attempt to create a climate of fear.
Marriage ADA's goal is to create a community of Americans who, regardless of their faith tradition, adhere to the core Gospel value: "Be not afraid!" [emphasis added]
As of today, however, it’s been nearly two months since NOM’s Marriage ADA has posted a new video. The site has posted a total of nine videos since September -- roughly two a month -- and few if any of those videos depicted instances of actual defamation.
Marriage ADA’s inaugural video told the story of Frank Turek, a corporate consultant whose contracts with Cisco Systems and Bank of America were terminated after it was discovered he had written a book opposing marriage equality. In reality, Turek’s anti-gay animus went far beyond opposing same-sex marriage. His book, Correct, Not Politically Correct, refers to homosexuality as “inherently destructive” and promotes the myth that sexual orientation can be cured or changed. While presenting his book during a 2009 conference, Turek reportedly said:
You should not be for homosexuality if you are a rational reasonable person... It is against the basic design of the human body... Don’t think that it is loving to lead people to destruction.
As Right Wing Watch has documented, Turek has also called homosexuality a “road to destruction” and suggested that gays and Muslim extremists have joined together to bring about “totalitarianism” in America. Despite Turek’s anti-gay extremism, both companies eventually promised not to discriminate against employees due to their opposition to same-sex marriage.
Marriage ADA’s second video told the story of three Illinois families raising foster children through the Evangelical Child and Family Agency (ECFA), which recently lost its contract with the state after it refused to comply with Illinois’s new civil unions law and license to same-sex couples as prospective foster parents.
Though the children in ECFA’s care were transferred to other child welfare agencies, the three couples lamented that they wouldn’t be able to use Catholic adoption agencies for foster services in the future. ECFA will still be able to continue its private adoption services, so long as it doesn’t accept public funds to participate in the state’s foster care system.
Gerald Buell is a Florida public high school teacher who was temporarily suspended from his job after posting anti-gay comments on his Facebook about marriage equality in New York. Buell was suspended in order to allow school officials time to determine if his statements had violated the school’s ethics code or social media guidelines. The American Civil Liberties Union, which “strongly” opposed Buell’s comments, came to his defense, arguing that Buell’s statements were protected by the First Amendment. Buell was eventually allowed to return to the classroom, and no further disciplinary action was taken.
NOM’s Marriage ADA posted three separate videos telling the stories of New York clerks who either resigned or were asked to resign from their jobs due to their unwillingness to issue same-sex marriage licenses in the wake of New York’s recently enacted marriage equality law. Aside from receiving “negative comments” for refusing to recognize same-sex marriages, none of the women reported facing “threats to their person, property, or livelihood,” as NOM claimed at the end of its video. One of the clerks, Rose Marie Belforti, won re-election to her position in November.
In November, NOM announced that Marriage ADA had found a new spokesperson – Canadian former sportscaster Damian Goddard. Goddard claims to have been fired from his job at Toronto’s Rogers Sportsnet for tweeting his opposition to same-sex marriage. Sportsnet denies firing Goddard for his anti-gay tweet, explaining that the reasons for his termination are “well documented” and noting that the decision to fire Goddard was made long before his tweet. Goddard himself admitted that it was “absolutely” possible that his tweet had nothing to do with his termination. Moreover, Goddard’s entire ordeal took place in Canada, which has significantly tougher standards against anti-gay speech than the U.S.
Continuing with its trend of spotlighting Canadian stories, Marriage ADA released a video in December about two Vancouver School Board members – Ken Denike and Sophia Woo – who objected to a booklet for the school district’s anti-bullying program which accidentally referred readers to a website with explicit content.
Soon after the video was posted, Denike claimed that he had been misled about the video’s purpose and was “in the process of lawyering up” to have NOM’s video taken down. According to Canada’s Xtra!, he wasn’t pleased to discover his testimony would be used to oppose marriage equality:
"It's inappropriate," Denike says. "It has nothing to do with same-sex marriage. It was strictly in order to indicate to the board that they were responsible for oversight."
Marriage ADA’s final video featured Christian parents from Great Britain who had been told by local authorities that they could not foster children because they had told a social worker that they would be unable to tell a child that the “homosexual lifestyle” is acceptable. Gay marriage is still illegal in the UK, but NOM’s Brown still claims the couple’s story is evidence of what might happen if the government can condemn “Christian views” on marriage.
So to recap – out of NOM’s nine Marriage ADA stories, three weren’t about marriage, three were from a different country, and zero demonstrated an instance of actual “defamation.”
It should come as no surprise that NOM had such a difficult time finding any compelling evidence that opponents of marriage equality were having their “rights and dignity” threatened and denied. NOM’s “gays as bullies” narrative has already been exposed and rejected by a number of judges and courts across the country. Though the group hailed Marriage ADA as a “huge new step” to restoring civility to the debate over same-sex marriage, the project seems to have sputtered into little more than an expensive example of how dishonest NOM’s self-victimization meme really is.
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