Confidential NOM strategy memo: “Provoke the gay marriage base… fan the hostility.”

[Crossposted at Family Scholars Blog.]

From the Associated Press:

The leading national organization opposing same-sex marriage has sought to split the Democratic Party base by pitting African-Americans and Hispanics against gay-rights groups, according to confidential strategy memos made public by court officials in Maine. [...]

The documents, dating from 2009, were written by the National Organization for Marriage and had been kept from the public until Monday, when they were unsealed by court officials in Maine.

The Human Rights Campaign has posted the released NOM documents. One passage from NOM’s strategy document:

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. No politician wants to take up and push an issue that splits the base of the party. Fanning the hostility raised in the wake of Prop 8 is key to raising the costs of pushing gay marriage to its advocates and persuading the movement’s allies that advocates are unacceptably overreaching on this issue.

NOM’s representatives often talk about the value of civil discourse, and in particular complain about the use of the word “bigot” and the hostility of Proposition 8 opponents.

In light of these documents, I think we have to seriously doubt NOM’s sincerity. In fact, it’s impossible to believe that NOM has ever for a moment desired civil disagreement. NOM deliberately provokes lgbt people into anger, in order to denounce those who they succeed in provoking. I cannot imagine a clearer example of hypocrisy.

If you genuinely want civil disagreement, then you don’t deliberately “[fan] the hostility” in your opponents. If you genuinely want pro-SSM folks to stop using the word “bigot,” then you don’t “provoke the gay marriage base into” calling others “bigots.”

Maggie, if you’re reading, could you please address this? How could you call for civil disagreement, while secretly plotting to fan hostility? Am I mistaken to see that as cynical and hypocritical?

* * *

Although there’s nothing wrong with NOM seeking Black allies and supporters, there’s something ugly about the way NOM wants to “drive a wedge between gays and blacks.”

I’ve complained in the past that marriage equality opponents consider lgbt people instrumentally, rather than as people. Thus, opponents of marriage equality say that they oppose SSM in order to “send a message” about mothers and fathers, or to incrementally support a “marriage culture,” but they very rarely have concern for the well-being of the lgbt people whose families are being treated as post-it notes.

NOM’s attitude towards African-Americans seems similar. Black people are desired as fronts, not as partners. For example, despite the centrality of African-Americans to their strategy, NOM’s strategy doesn’t include recruiting Black people to decision-making positions within NOM. (Check out the faces here and here, to see what I mean.) Why not?

Did NOM ask, is a bunch of white folks provoking a fight between lgbt people (some of who are Black) and the Black community (some of whom are gay) really what’s best for the Black community? Did they worry about their “wedge” being “driven” right through the families of Black lgbt people? It doesn’t seem to have occurred to them.

* * *

Speaking of trying to drive a wedge into families, the strategy document also proposed paying $50,000 for a staff member to work full-time trying to “identify children of gay parents willing to speak on camera” on NOM’s behalf. Politics doesn’t get any uglier than that.

As Miranda at Right Wing Watch points out, if NOM really did this, “it seems that a year’s worth of full-time work didn’t turn up a single child of gay parents who was willing to be portrayed as a ‘victim’ of marriage equality.”

* * *

If you want to follow this issue in more detail, the blog “Good As You” has been all over it. NOM’s response has so far been limited to a single “some of our best friends are non-white” post.

This entry posted in Homophobic zaniness/more LGBTQ issues, Race, racism and related issues, Same-Sex Marriage. Bookmark the permalink. 

9 Responses to Confidential NOM strategy memo: “Provoke the gay marriage base… fan the hostility.”

  1. Wedge strategy…. secret document… this seems familiar somehow.

  2. 2
    Mokele says:

    One of the most telling things about our screwed up values as a society is that we pay a bigot employed to spread hatred twice as much as people whose job description is “help cure cancer”.

  3. 3
    mythago says:

    I’m not astonished NOM did this. I’m astonished NOM actually turned over the document.

  4. 4
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    I’m also not astonished NOM did this.

    But I’m a little skeptical of any implication that this isn’t pretty much par for the course, on both sides of the fence: this is standard politics. Infighting is a long-standing way of weakening your opponents’ position.

    Imagine that there was a document which described a strategy to drive a wedge between Republican religious folks and Republican women, thus splitting the Republican voting base. Would that seem odd to you? It would not seem odd to me. And I wouldn’t expect the strategist to be in charge of thinking about what was “really best for” either group.

  5. 5
    mythago says:

    “We need to seek the support of black churches and Latino traditionalists, and enlist them to spread our message” really isn’t the same thing as urging ‘fanning the hostility’, i.e. racism, among LGBTs, nor against being anti-assimilation.

  6. 6
    JThompson says:

    @gin-and-whiskey: Would the desire to siphon off Republican women be to their detriment? Would the people siphoning them off think of them as people or as a way to play several enemies against one another. Given that the current thing that’s pulling Republican women away from the party is their party’s insistence that men should be able to control their bodies, it’s a false equivalence.

    Arguing that you want what’s best for someone while your opponents don’t so they should come over to your side isn’t driving a wedge as long as you actually believe it to be true. NOM doesn’t want what’s best for gays or blacks or anyone but NOM.

  7. 7
    Hugh says:

    ” NOM doesn’t want what’s best for gays or blacks or anyone but NOM.”

    I’m pretty sure NOM genuinely believes that it’s best for blacks if gay people can’t marry – given they think it’s best for straight people if gay people can’t marry, and many black people are straight.

  8. 8
    Charles S says:

    The main thing that strikes me about this secret plan is that it is pathetically contrived. Rather than simply being a plan to do outreach into the Black and Latino communities to find anti-marriage equality spokespeople to ally with NOM and increase the visibility of the issue within those communities (a perfectly reasonable plan, and something that has its (completely out in the open) equivalent within LGBT groups), NOM plans to create black and Latino puppets that it will then get to behave in hateful ways, so it can then cause LGBT leaders to denounce the black and Latino leaders in divisive ways, so that it can make the issue divisive for the Democratic base, so that Democratic politicians will want to stay away from the issue….

    That is about 4 steps more plan than a secret plan should reasonably have, particularly given that NOM only actually plans to have any influence on one party in the sequence, and even that party they seem to hope to trick. “And then our allies will fall for our cunning plan, and then our opponents will fall for our cunning plan, and then their allies will fall for our cunning plan,” is really not much of a cunning plan.

  9. 9
    Lord Cerbereth says:

    There is already a wedge between gays and blacks, and there is a wedge between gays and hispanics and finally there is a wedge between blacks and hispanics something Democrats try to pretend doesn’t exist.

    Nom went a little bond villian if what the article says about the “evil plan” is true, but whatever they want to do it’s their “evil plan”.

    If it works their geniuses if it doesn’t whatever.