By Fred Karger
Originally published on Advocate.com October 11 2012 6:09 PM ET
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has funded and led every anti-gay marriage action and election in this country since it was formed five years ago by the Mormon and Catholic Churches. It was setup to serve as their “front group” in order to qualify and pass California’s Proposition 8. Prop 8 stripped away California’s gay marriage law and wrote discrimination into the state Constitution for the very first time
NOM has morphed into a finely-tuned, effective $12 to $15 million per year bullying operation that has gone to war against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans in more than 20 states. NOM also goes after anyone and everyone who gets in its way on the ground, at the ballot box and in the courts.
NOM went from its victory in California to Iowa determined to overturn Iowa’s new gay marriage law that was enacted by a unanimous decision of the state Supreme Court. NOM immediately spent a record $86,000 in a special House election in 2009. Last year it spent thousands more in another Iowa special election this time for a seat in the Iowa State Senate. It has fulltime operatives in Iowa and is hell-bent on repealing that successful marriage equality law.
In 2010 NOM funded and ran the million dollar campaign in Iowa to remove three state supreme court hustices who were part of that unanimous decision to allow marriage equality in Iowa. They won and all three Justices were kicked off the bench. NOM even viciously attacked former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor when she voiced her support for the Iowa justices. Now NOM is after a fourth justice this November and is the largest funder of that judicial retention election.
NOM to the Northeast
In early 2009 NOM began organizing in the northeast to prevent marriage equality laws from passing in Rhode Island, Vermont, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, and Connecticut. NOM also went into Maine in 2009 and qualified a referendum to repeal that state’s recently passed gay marriage law. NOM gave $1.9 million of the $3 million raised and NOM managed to convince Maine voters to repeal its marriage equality law passed by the legislature and signed by the governor.
NOM Under Investigation in Two States
It’s now been legally documented in Maine and elsewhere NOM doesn’t play by the rules. NOM has been under a three-year investigation in Maine by the state attorney general and ethics commission for money laundering by failing to obey Maine’s election law and report its contributors. NOM has spent millions attempting to stop the investigation and repeal Maine’s campaign finance disclosure laws with several separate lawsuits. The federal lawsuit made it to the United States Supreme Court twice. Last week the U.S. Supreme Court, for the second time, denied to hear NOM’s case. The lower court ruling, which orders NOM to cooperate with state investigators and reveal its donors, stands.
The California Fair Political Practices Commission has launched an investigation into NOM for not reporting $345,000 that it raised in 2008 to pass California’s Prop 8. That investigation has been underway since May of this year.
New York Congressional Election
NOM bullied and led the defeat of Dede Scozzafava, a highly respected Republican New York assemblywoman, when she ran for Congress because she voted for the New York marriage equality bill. NOM ran a vicious negative campaign against Scozzafava and gloated when she was defeated by a Democrat in a special election. That seat had been in Republican hands since the Civil War.
New York Fight
NOM continually threatens any legislator who dares to vote for full equality for all Americans. When New York was taking up its second marriage vote in 2011, NOM threatened to spend $500,000 to defeat any Republican state senator who voted for that bill. True to its word, NOM spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in the New York primary several weeks ago. One of the three Republican state senators running for reelection who voted for the successful marriage equality law went down to defeat, in spite of an enormous show of support for the three.
NOM the Bully
In state after state—like in Maine and beginning in California—NOM has sued to invalidate decades' old campaign disclosure laws to hide the names of the individuals and organizations who are contributing millions of dollars to NOM every year.
In 2010 NOM spent at least $450,000 to run terrible attack ads against pro-gay marriage supporter former congressman Tom Campbell when he ran for U.S. Senate in California in the Republican primary. NOM spent $1 million in vicious attack ads to defeat New Hampshire Governor John Lynch in his reelection campaign in November 2010 because he signed that state’s gay marriage bill. That same election NOM spent $1.5 million to successfully flip the New Hampshire state legislature as part of its continued effort to undo New Hampshire’s new freedom to marry law. NOM eventually lost that vote to repeal New Hampshire’s marriage law but not without waging a big, expensive battle of threats and intimidation.
Left: Fred Karger
NOM led the effort to force a vote in May of this year on a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage forever in the Tar Heel State. They won that election handily.
Maine, Minnesota, Washington and Maryland Ballots
NOM qualified two referenda on November ballots in Washington and Maryland to overturn their new marriage laws. NOM got the Minnesota constitutional amendment on the November ballot to cement that state’s anti-gay marriage law into the state constitution. In Maine we have NOM on the defensive when the LGBT community and our allies qualified our own initiative to allow marriage in the Pine Tree State. NOM gave $250,000 to each state operation so far and its fulltime political operative Frank Schubert is running all four campaigns. NOM will put in a lot more money in this final month before election day, and will do whatever has to be done to keep its win streak intact.
Presidential Marriage Pledge
Let’s not forget that NOM got six of the nine Republican Presidential candidates to sign its virulently ant-gay marriage pledge last summer. Mitt Romney was one of those signers. It calls for the passage of a federal Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in all 50 states. It also requires whichever signer wins to appoint a presidential commission to “investigate,” individuals who “harass” donors who fight for “traditional marriage.”
NOM Boycotts Businesses
This year NOM took up a new tactic and organized boycotts against any company that dares to support the freedom to marry. As soon as Starbucks endorsed marriage equality in its home state of Washington, NOM launched its “Dump Starbucks” boycott. When Minnesota-based General Foods endorsed gay marriage, NOM launched a boycott of the large cereal maker, too. After T-Mobile gave $25,000 to pass Referendum 74 in Washington State to uphold the Legislature’s recently passed gay marriage law, NOM began a boycott of the wireless phone company. NOM has even gone after two NFL players who support marriage equality asking the National Football League to sanction them. This is quite hypocritical from an organization that complains that the free speech of its million dollar donors is being threatened.
Time to Fight Back Against NOM
How many times will the LGBT community and all our allies get kicked in the gut, bullied, lied to, viciously maligned and attacked by NOM before we fight back? NOM is a powerful, very well funded, extremely influential and well organized hate group. Yet most in the LGBT community don’t even seem concerned that every day, every election NOM works tirelessly to take away our rights.
It was recently discovered that Michigan billionaire Doug DeVos gave what appeared to be the largest single family donation to NOM—$500,000 to NOM’s Educational Fund (20 times T-Mobile’s contribution to Referendum 74). The DeVos contribution accounted for almost half of NOM’s budget the year it was given. Doug DeVos and his family are the owners of Amway Corporation of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Journalist Zack Ford of Think Progress discovered the massive contribution through the DeVos tax returns. Soon thereafter, Rights Equal Rights declared a global boycott of all the businesses owned by the family. This list includes its mother ship Amway along with three hotels, twenty-six car dealerships, health clubs, real estate holdings, the Orlando Magic NBA team and a variety of other businesses. Check out our web site, RightsEqualRights.com for the list of businesses under boycott and to see how you can help.
We need to fight back against equality’s single most formidable opponent as it continues its attempt to take away the rights from millions of Americans at every level of government. We need to fight back against NOM like it so effectively does against us.
FRED KARGER is the president and founder of Rights Equal Rights.