By Julie Bolcer
Originally published on Advocate.com August 28 2009 12:00 PM ET
The Washington Post devotes a generous amount of space today to an in-depth profile of National Organization for Marriage leader Brian Brown, whom writer Monica Hesse presents as a “rational, mainstream, and sane” advocate for preserving the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
Brown, 35, serves as the executive director of NOM, a leading organization against marriage equality that recently opened an office in Washington, D.C. Last year, NOM was instrumental in the passage of Proposition 8 in California, and just last week it began to pour resources into Iowa, where the state supreme court legalized same-sex marriage in April.
The profile attempts to distance Brown, a devout Catholic with a history degree from Oxford, from more “fringe” leaders of the Right such as Pat Robertson and James Dobson. Brown refutes as “irrational” those who compare bans on same-sex marriage to anti-miscegenation laws from decades past, or those who argue that marriage equality is inevitable given the pro-gay attitudes of young people.
“He tries to help people see that opposing gay marriage does not make them bigots, that the argument should have nothing to do with hate or fear, and everything to do with history and tradition,” writes Hesse. “The reason Brian Brown is so effective is that he is pleasantly, ruthlessly sane.”
On the tactical front, the profile describes Brown’s work in organizing, fund-raising, and messaging, including embarrassing missteps such as the much-parodied “Gathering Storm” advertisement, and the use of the online gay sex tag "2M4M" to publicize a campaign called "Two Million for Marriage."
No leaders of LGBT organizations are quoted, although the article does cite marriage equality opponent Bishop Harry Jackson, who says that the leaders of NOM are “not gay bashers.”
Brown claims to have gay friends and family, but it is his wife, Sue, who sounds at times curiously conflicted by the push to ban same-sex marriage. “Initially, I probably thought, well, what's the big deal if they do? What does it have to do with me?" she says. “I know many awesome women, and I've thought about what if I got together with one of them" and tried to raise a family.