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Marriage Equality

Doom for NOM?

Doom for NOM?


The antigay organization's finances crumble in the wake of pro-equality legal victories.

The National Organization for Marriage is barely clinging to life, according to the group's reluctantly released tax returns for 2013.

The Human Rights Campaign reported the contents of the NOM's tax returns on its blog in November but received the information only after repeated requests and after HRC filed a complaint with the IRS to compel NOM to release its 2013 Form 990, as required by federal law. NOM provided the documents two days after the legally mandated November 17 deadline.

The main findings are that NOM's donors have virtually vanished. Meanwhile, NOM's debt has ballooned to $2.5 million in 2013, from $2 million a year earlier. Of the $5.1 million that NOM raised last year, more than half came from just two donors. That's a roughly 50% drop in fundraising from 2012, when the organization had three major donors.

The group's decline is likely attributable to multiple factors, such as its expensive but fruitless litigation to roll back marriage equality and efforts to paint itself the victim of a radical so-called gay agenda. There were also various fines for campaign finance violations. Earlier in 2014, a unanimous vote by the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices levied record-high penalties of $50,250 against NOM for concealing donors and violating the state's electoral laws.

The organization has also suffered a string of high-profile failures, barely managing to chalk up even the slimmest of victories in recent years. NOM's last major win was the passage of an antigay constitutional amendment in North Carolina in 2012. It has since been overturned.

The organization spent $200,000 to support two antigay U.S. Senate candidates, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, in the November election. Although both won, NOM is unlikely to get much of a return on its investment. In Tillis's home state, marriage equality is firmly the law of the land, and Cotton is unlikely to be able to influence the state and federal lawsuits in Arkansas.

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Matt Baume