After the antigay National Organization for Marriage was handed four stinging defeats Tuesday, with voters endorsing marriage equality in three states and shutting down a divisive ban in another, the group is reeling.
The American Independent got wind of an emergency conference call on Thursday in which the group and its leader, Brian Brown, plotted their next moves. The group's mission is to "defend traditional marriage" by denying marriage rights to same-sex couples, but its fortunes took a massive turn for the worse Tuesday when Maine, Maryland, and Washington voters endorsed same-sex marriage at the polls, upping the number of states with marriage equality to nine plus the District of Columbia. Meanwhile, Minnesota voters rejected a divisive constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage as well.
Brown believes the failures had to do with being outspent as well as GOP candidate Mitt Romney not pushing his opposition to same-sex marriage enough and Republican strategist Karl Rove focusing on economic issues instead of social ones; the latter point goes counter to dozens of polls that put the economy at the top of the electorate's concerns.
According to The American Independent, Brown promised to keep up the fight against same-sex marriage and asked his followers for more money. The group is also going after corporations such as Starbucks that publicly advocate for marriage equality. NOM's plan is to garner support in the Middle East, an area hostile to same-sex marriage and an area the coffee chain is interested in expanding in.
"[Starbucks'] international outreach is where we can have the most effect," Brown said. "So for example, in Qatar, in the Middle East, we've begun working to make sure that there's some price to be paid for this. These are not countries that look kindly on same-sex marriage. And this is where Starbucks wants to expand, as well as India. So we have done some of this; we've got to do a lot more."
Brown and NOM political director Frank Schubert also believe that their losses Tuesday will help them with Supreme Court battles. Their hope is that the high court, set to decide whether to take on challenges to California's Prop. 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, will not consider gay and lesbian people a "suspect class" now that voters in four states refused to discriminate against them. Judges often describe groups who are routinely subject to bias as members of a "suspect class," and legislation passed against such groups is often scrutinized closely. How NOM will convince the Supreme Court that gays are now free of discrimination, especially since they can be legally fired in many states and are denied marriage rights in the majority of them, is unclear.
NOM is concerned with the next wave of states looking toward marriage equality, including Delaware, Rhode Island, Illinois, and California; the latter could see marriage equality reinstated this month, should the Supreme Court accept a lower court ruling that struck down the Golden State's narrowly approved constitutional marriage equality ban.