[Crossposted at Family Scholars Blog.]
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?
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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.
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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.”
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