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April 6. 2012

NOM in hot water for memos on pitting gays vs. blacks

Washington, D.C.--The group leading the national campaign against marriage equality has been widely criticized  after documents were released last week showing it tried to drive a wedge between the LGBT and African-American communities. The memos also described efforts to recruit pretty but vapid celebrities to counter Hollywood’s influence on the “culture wars.”

The National Organization for Marriage’s papers were obtained on March 26 through a Maine Ethics Commission complaint filed by Fred Karger, a California LGBT activist who has been battling the group because of their involvement in Proposition 8. They were publicized by the Human Rights Campaign.

The Maine case came about after a 2009 campaign to void a new marriage law there. NOM, which routinely dodges campaign contribution laws to hide its donors, is contesting a Maine requirement that it reveal them. So far, it has not done so.

NOM has said it will campaign against a new Maine initiative to enact full marriage by ballot this fall.

The group’s August 11, 2009 National Strategy for Winning the Marriage Battle includes “The Latino Project: A Pan-American Strategy,” the “Not a Civil Right” Project and the Next Generation Leaders Project, among other initiatives.

That document includes the statement, “We also recognize the opportunity--the disproportionate potential impact of proactively seeking to gather and connect a community of artists, athletes, writers, beauty queens and other glamorous non-cognitive elites across national boundaries.” They note Carrie Prejean, the beauty queen who spoke out against same-sex marriage.

The part of the strategy document that has raised the most ire, however, is the “Not a Civil Right” Project, which claims, “The majority of African-Americans, like the majority of Americans, oppose gay marriage, but Democratic power bosses are increasingly inclined to privilege the concerns of gay rights groups over the values of African-Americans.”

It called for a $1.5 million budget to “fine, equip, energize and connect African-American spokespeople for marriage; to develop a national media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right.”

It also called for establishing opposition to same-sex marriage as a marker of Latino identity, and as a form of rebellion for youth to oppose assimilation into Anglo society.

“NOM’s underhanded attempts to divide will not succeed if black Americans remember their own history of discrimination. Pitting bigotry’s victims against other victims is reprehensible; the defenders of justice must stand together,” said Julian Bond, chairman emeritus of the NAACP.

The National Black Justice Coalition’s executive director, Sharon Lettman-Hicks, noted, “These documents expose NOM for what it really is--a hate group determined to use African American faith leaders as pawns to push their damaging agenda and as mouthpieces to amplify that hatred.”

“NOM is fighting a losing battle,” she added. “With these memos made public, the black faith community must refuse to be exploited and refuse to deny their fellow brothers and sisters equal protections under the law.”

She also noted that Coretta Scott-King and Rep. John Lewis, both civil rights pioneers, supported same-sex marriage.















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