As the campaign to pass the Maryland marriage referendum nears its final seven weeks, the coalition working to approve Question 6 wants media to be advised of the “misinformation, race baiting and negativity” that characterize the “playbook” of opponents such as National Organization for Marriage.
Marylanders for Marriage Equality sent a memo Thursday morning to “Maryland reporters, editors, anchors, producers” with the subject line “What to watch out for.” The document is intended as a preemptive strike against opponents, who in past statewide campaigns have shown a tendency to make significant investments at the last minute.
“This memo outlines the playbook that marriage equality opponents have used since 2008,” reads the message, which cites Frank Schubert, political director of NOM, who is now “leading the charge” to defeat Question 6. “The misinformation, race baiting and negativity have worked to great effect in states like California and Maine,” continues the memo. “Marylanders should brace themselves for what is about to hit our state.”
The memo reviews three strategies that media should expect from opponents, who work under the coalition, Maryland Marriage Alliance. Those strategies include exploiting race, promoting the false charge that same-sex marriage will be taught in public schools if the law is upheld, and convincing voters that marriage equality advocates have “duped” them. The latter refers to recent calls by the Maryland Marriage Alliance for voters to be “inherently suspicious” of the religious exemptions language in the ballot measure and the law signed this year by Gov. Martin O’Malley.
NOM funds a significant portion of the Maryland Marriage Alliance, according to the memo, which cites the coalition’s own website and financial disclosure reports. The memo also reveals that NOM president Brian Brown is a founding director of the Maryland Marriage Alliance.
“The link between the national and statewide group is significant because of NOM’s national strategy — used in a number of states — to defeat marriage for gay and lesbian couples,” says the memo. “That strategy as outlined in its 2009 internal memos is to ‘drive a wedge between gays and blacks … fanning the hostility raised in the wake of Prop. 8.’”
Approximately 25% of voters in Maryland are African-American, which has raised concerns that the racially divisive tactics could be used in the state. NAACP chairman emeritus Julian Bond recently wrote that “a victory would deal a serious blow to the National Organization for Marriage” because of the race-baiting strategy the group has admitted.
Maryland is one of four states with ballot initiatives pertaining to marriage this November. Advocates hope to reverse a long losing streak by winning the votes on the measures.
Read the full memo on the next page.