Tuesday, March 27, 2012

NOM's "National Strategy for Winning the Marriage Battle" Appeals to Racial, Ethnic, Religious, and Political Divisions

The National Organization for Marriage is being investigated for possible violations of campaign finance laws in the State of Maine. As a result, documents describing its political strategy have come to light.  The Human Rights Campaign has posted the documents here. The principal document is NOM's National Strategy for Winning the Marriage Battle. It reveals a strategy intent on creating and exploiting racial, ethnic, religious, and political tensions.

As to race:
"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 ...."
As to ethnicity:
"The Latino vote in America is a key swing vote, and will be so even more so [sic] 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."
As to religion:
"Gay marriage is the tip of the spear, the weapon that will be and is being used to marginalize and repress Christianity and the Church. What does the gay marriage idea mean once government adopts it? It means faith communities that promote traditional families should be treated in law and culture like racists. It means that the authority of parents to transmit moral values to children will be eroded."
"All clergy are key influencers on gay marriage, but Catholics are a key swing vote and Catholic clergy are notoriously difficult to personally reach. The Catholic Clergy Project aims to use NOM's close relationships with Catholic bishops to equip, energize, and moralize Catholic priests on the marriage issue. NOM has provided this service to bishops in New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Iowa, and Kansas to date."
On Attacking the "Left" and Defeating President Obama:
"Marriage will be won or lost in the United States in the next two to three years and victory or defeat in the United States will depend primarily on adequate resources. From a political angle, this strategy requires defeating the pro-gay Obama agenda: a pro-marriage President must be elected in 2012."
"Expose Obama as a social radical. Develop side issues to weaken pro-gay marriage political leaders and parties and develop an activist base of socially conservative voters. Raise such issues as pornography, protection of children, and the need to oppose all efforts to weaken religious liberty at the federal level. This is the mission of the American Principles Project (www.americanprinciplesproject.com)."
At the American Principles Project, one of the featured sites is "The Case for Polarized Politics: Why America Needs Social Conservatism."  This site quotes Rush Limbaugh:
"It goes all the way back to the French revolution. The left is vehemently in favor of bringing down institutions like the family and organized religion, and they're doing it."
 What's wrong with this? Plenty.

To NOM: If you want to oppose marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples do so directly. Don't exploit racial or ethnic tensions. Don't attempt to capitalize on feelings of resentment by minorities towards whites or anglos. Don't equate civil rights for gays and lesbians with white bigotry or Anglo dominance.

I offer social conservatives a history lesson. I remind them that they were not in the forefront of civil rights for African-Americans or Hispanics. Where were they when we sought to desegregate the public schools? Where were they when we tried to end employment discrimination? Where were they when we sought to open public accommodations to people of all races? Where were they when we sought to overturn laws prohibiting people of different races from marrying? They opposed all of these liberal causes.

Where are they today? Does NOM and its partners like American Principles Project wish to expand opportunities for racial minorities to attain an education? Do they support affirmative action in university admissions for historically disadvantaged groups? What about immigration reform? Will they help us create a fair and comprehensive path to citizenship for people who live and work here? Do they even support the DREAM Act? What about health care reform? Do they support laws that will make health care accessible to all of our citizens, including the indigent and the working poor, or is their notion of health care reform limited to making it medical care less expensive for the wealthy by means of tax deductions like health savings accounts? What about taxes? Do they want every person to contribute to our society in an appropriate amount, or do they simply want to line the pockets of the rich? What about the right to vote - the right upon which all other rights depend? Will NOM and its allies now oppose voter registration laws that are designed to make it difficult for disadvantaged persons to vote? Don't hold your breath.

NOM's claim that marriage equality is a tool that is intended to "repress Christianity" is utterly false. Marriage equality is utterly consistent with Christ's message of love and tolerance. Marriage equality strengthens families and communities. It promotes faithfulness and supports two-parent families. It reinforces the fundamental value that all religions stand for: that we must treat others as we wish to be treated.

I will be addressing NOM's and others' "religious liberty" arguments in some detail over the coming months. The NOM document, like the positions taken by the American Principles Project and the Manhattan Declaration, lays out a cynical political strategy and dangerous social policy. At its best, religion offers people comfort, compassion, and community. It provides hope and inspiration. NOM intends to use religion for political purposes in ways that will result in division, discrimination, and despair. Its proposed strategy kills hope and drives good and decent people from the arms of the Church. I remind NOM of the words of Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island and the leading American prophet on behalf of freedom of religion:
When they [the Church] have opened a gap in the hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world, God hath ever broke down the wall itself, and made His Garden a wilderness as it is this day. (1644)
The Separation of Church and State not only protects ordinary citizens from the enactment of religious doctrine into law; it also protects religious institutions from becoming secularized. It is NOM that presents a danger to organized religion, not the supporters of marriage equality.

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