Hatred behind a marriage veil

Posted on 05 Apr 2012 at 5:30pm

Confidential report detailing National Organization for Marriage’s strategy of dividing gays, blacks, Latinos shows just how ugly group really is

Gallagher.Maggie

CULTURE WARRIOR  | Maggie Gallagher, right, co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage, addresses the media March 12 in Huntsville, Ala., at a stop on a bus tour in support of GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum. Documents uncovered last week by the Human Rights Campaign show that Gallagher’s group, NOM, sought to drive a wedge between gays and other minority groups as part of its war against same-sex marriage. (Associated Press)

The document is titled, “A National Strategy for Winning the Marriage Battle,” and its authors are very clear that the battle for marriage in the U.S. will be won or lost in the next two or three years.

The rest of the document reads like a plan for a ground war, with detailed strategic initiatives and moves laid out in detail.

But even though it was made public last week by the Human Rights Campaign, it’s not a road map for LGBT marriage rights.

It’s a confidential report generated by the National Organization for Marriage, a far right-wing hate group intent on denying basic human rights to LGBT citizens.

Now, lest you think I am being a bit overblown calling NOM a hate group, let me quote a couple of tactics suggested in the “strategy”:

“The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two key Democratic constituencies. Find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage; develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots.”

This document is a road map for sowing dissension and hatred between the African-American community and the LGBT community. It goes on to detail specific ways to accomplish the goal. But black Americans are not the only targets of their wedge tactics.

“The Latino vote in America is a key swing vote, and will be so even more so in the future, both because of demographic growth and inherent uncertainty: Will the process of assimilation to the dominant Anglo culture lead Hispanics to abandon traditional family values? We must interrupt this process of assimilation by making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity — a symbol of resistance to inappropriate assimilation.”

The National Organization for Marriage wants to open the racial and ethnic divide to slip in their message of intolerance and exclusion. It’s called “race baiting,” and it’s about as sleazy a tactic as I can imagine. But in the minds of the NOM folks, it’s all part of the war. Their documents do not talk about same-sex marriage but only “marriage,” and you are either for it or against it. By making it an either-or issue, they pound the wedge in further.

Their world is black and white. You are either for marriage or against it.  Accepting anything but “one man one woman” as a marriage in their mind destroys the whole institution, or at least that is their rhetoric.

Furthermore, they are working to identify sympathetic voices in the academic and professional communities with their “Expert Witness Project.” They are seeking to gain credentials for their bigotry much like the Family Research Council does. Being able to quote a few Ph.D.s always makes your argument seem reasoned, even if those scholars are in your back pocket.

Additionally, the strategy notes that “keeping gay marriage controversial” is a key to rolling back any advances made by LGBT advocates. Their tactic? Create an irrational fear that speaking out against equal rights will have physical consequences.  I would call it fostering a “victim mentality.” Specifically, they want to document this alleged victimization to prove their point. They are hiring videographers and reporters to collect stories from people who feel they have been harassed as a result of their opposition to gay marriage.  Its aim is to create an emotional appeal and show the suffering of the “victims.”

I suppose all this should shock me, but it doesn’t. These are the tactics the right-wing has been using for years, just in a new and novel way.  The fact that these folks have such a detailed playbook shows they are organized and well prepared. They are not just a bunch of yokels, and the sooner we realize that the better. This campaign is also well funded. Their budget is listed as over $20 million, and with that kind of financial support they can put a lot of their tactics into the field.

It’s time we made a playbook of our own. Not one filled with tricks and phony PR tactics, but one with a clear path toward getting our message out. It will take more than marches and protests. We need people who will not just take the message to lawmakers, but to the public in general.

NOM leaders are very concerned that the next generation of Americans will not be as bigoted and intolerant as they are. They fear children being raised in a society that values all kinds of relationships and not just those they define as worthy. They are willing to get into the trenches and get very dirty to win what they see as a war.

I believe exposing their tactics is a good first step toward showing how little they really value honesty and integrity. Now we need to make sure they can no longer hide behind the mask of being a “pro-marriage” organization. They are just another hate group, trying to masquerade as moral crusaders. We must strip them of their masks and expose how ugly they really are.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and board member of the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 6, 2012.

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