NOM Needs a Few Good "Noncognitive" Celebrities

By Lucas Grindley

Originally published on Advocate.com March 28 2012 3:26 PM ET

The National Organization for Marriage wants a few "noncognitive" celebrities to carry its antigay message to the masses.

That's the latest revelation to get attention from NOM's strategy document, marked "confidential," that was uncovered as part of a lawsuit in Maine. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation is calling out NOM for what it says is a cynical view of voters' intelligence.

"Celebrity or not and 'cognitive' or not, given how cynically NOM views its supporters, who would want to stand with them and support their agenda?" said Herndon Graddick, GLAAD’s vice president of Programs and Communications.

In the strategy document, which has already received a deluge of criticism for its plan to use race to divide the country, NOM outlines "cultural strategies" that include recruiting celebrity spokespeople.

"We are looking for a new set of messengers," the document declares. But it doesn't seem to think too highly of whoever volunteers, calling them "glamorous noncognitive elites."

"Here's the bottom line: Hollywood with its cultural biases is far bigger than we can hope to be. We recognize this," the strategy states. "But we also recognize the opportunity - the disproportionate potential impact of proactively seeking to gather and connect a community of artists, athletes, writers, beauty queens and other glamorous noncognitive elites across national boundaries."

GLAAD points out that NOM did in fact recruit a "beauty queen," as it had strategized. Miss California Carrie Prejean, who famously said she opposed "opposite marriage" in an answer on stage at the Miss USA pageant, was a short-lived spokeswoman for the group before a sex tape of her surfaced.

Then NOM successfully recruited an athlete, as it had imagined, to speak out against marriage equality in New York. Former New York Giants wide receiver David Tyree, a Super Bowl hero, said in a video for NOM that same-sex marriage would lead to "anarchy" nationwide.

While NOM failed in New York, NOM did succeed in getting a lot of attention for its celebrity partnership, and that seems to have been part of the plan. But NOM hoped that "glamorous noncognitive elites" would inspire others to stand up, and it's unclear whether that's happened in the form of donations or other ways.

"When people are isolated they are silent and ineffectual; in community they gather courage and also give courage (by being visible to others)," the strategy says. "Precisely because Hollywood is currently so massively biased, there is an opportunity for a small countercultural community to have a disproportionate cultural impact."