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Queer Talk: NOM’s Strategy Exposed, ‘Drive a Wedge Between Gays and Blacks’

Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.

Yesterday, March 26, a story broke regarding the strategies used by the National Organization for Marriage. For those who have followed NOM, I don’t think the information is surprising, but when you have an organization, in writing, use language like, “The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks,” it’s going to generate a great deal of breaking story coverage.

The Human Rights Campaign: obtained “internal NOM documents,” and released a statement:

These documents were just unsealed in Maine mid-afternoon. The docs are part of the ongoing investigation by the State of Maine into the campaign finance activities of NOM in that state. Much more to come but some high (low) lights from PDF page 13 of the ‘confidential’ 2008-09 report to the NOM Board of Directors:

‘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…’

In other words and among other things, NOM planned to and did use AA “spokespeople” in hopes of “provoking” racist attacks. They made similar efforts in the Latino/a communities.

‘The Latino vote in America is a key swing vote … 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.’

From Buzzfeed:

The leading opponents of same-sex marriage planned to defeat campaigns for gay marriage by ‘fanning the hostility’ between black voters from gay voters and by casting President Obama as a radical foe of marriage, according to confidential documents made public in a Maine court today. …

The section, headed ‘Sideswiping Obama,’ suggests raising ‘side issues’ including pornography to attack Democrats’ flanks.

Alvin McEwen, at Holy Bullies:

NOM’s deliberate manipulation of black, gay communities is nauseating

… This sort of vile divide and conquer strategy is nothing new. History is filled with instances of communities, particularly communities seeking equality, being pitted against one another by a third group with ulterior motives.

We just got lucky this time. It just so happens that the third group in question was dumb enough to put its evil in writing.

Jeremy Hooper at Good As You has followed NOM as closely as anyone, and provides links to some of his previous writing about “NOM’s deeply divisive race games.”

NOM fought the Maine investigation into the organization’s financing of its efforts to prevent marriage equality. The release of the documents is revelatory of NOM’s efforts not only in Maine, but in general, and the story continues to develop. Today Joe Sudbay poses an excellent question: Who saw NOM’s plan to start a race war and agreed to fund it?.

There are some likely suspects who have close ties to the anti-gay industry, led by NOM, including the Catholic Bishops, Mormons and the Knights of Columbus.

At Think Progress, Zack Ford provides some “highlights of NOM’s tactics” revealed in the documents, including:

‘Drive a wedge between gays and blacks’ by convincing them to fight over the language of ‘civil rights.’

Bait Latino voters to oppose marriage equality as ‘a symbol of resistance to inappropriate assimilation.’

Interrupt the ‘attempt to equate…sexual orientation with race’ so that marriage inequality is not perceived as discrimination. …

Emphasize the importance of ‘religious liberties’ to limit the impact of marriage equality’s legislative advancements. …

In addition, one of the memos confides, ‘most of the world may never know the crucial role that NOM played in the Prop 8 campaign.’ In fact, throughout the memos, NOM emphasizes its intent to infuse large sums of money into various state-level campaigns in ways that circumvent donor disclosure.

You can check out NOM at here. At my last look, I could find nothing about this story. When I did a site search using “Maine,” I found: “This page is under development. Please visit again soon.” I remember, years ago, writing about their guidelines for discussing what they consistently call “Same-Sex Marriage,” or as they like, “SSM.” They warn:

Supporters of SSM … seek to change the subject to just about anything: discrimination, benefits, homosexuality, gay rights, federalism, our sacred constitution. Our goal is simple: Shift the conversation rapidly back to marriage. Don’t get sidetracked. … .

Seems as if they “sidetracked” themselves. And by the way, the language they say to “avoid at all costs” is “Ban same-sex marriage.” When opponents of “SSM” use that phrase, NOM warns, “it causes us to lose about ten percentage points in polls.”

As many are writing, such tactics are not surprising. LGBTs and allies have been aware of these kinds of things for years, decades. The tactics are actually predictable. But it’s very helpful that NOM provides such explicit proof for us.

And if you talk about this story, please remember to say that NOM wants to “ban same-sex marriage.”

(NOM logo via NOM. I, of course, provided the accompanying commentary.)

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5 Responses to Queer Talk: NOM’s Strategy Exposed, ‘Drive a Wedge Between Gays and Blacks’

  1. Cujo359 March 27, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    I wish I could say that we aren’t vulnerable to this sort of thing, but we are. Coalitions need to agree on what their objectives are, including those that don’t benefit all members of a coalition. Labor’s been particularly bad about that, from my perspective, but they’re hardly alone. If LGBTs, religious, and ethnic minorities are going to ensure our rights are respected, we should make an effort to ensure that each others’ rights are respected, too.

    • Joyce Arnold March 27, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

      I totally agree, Cujo, that we need to look out for each other’s rights. I’ve worked with all sorts of groups over the decades, and the best, most successful efforts always include allies, coalitions and such.

  2. fairmindedindependent March 27, 2012 at 9:11 pm #

    I want everyones rights respected, no matter that race, gender, ethic, religious, and sexual minority. Wedge issues are always used to divide people and sadly they will proberly always be used.

    • Joyce Arnold March 27, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

      Okay, I like this theme that’s developed, with you and Cujoy … civil rights for everyone sounds like a very good way to go :)

  3. secularhumanizinevoluter March 28, 2012 at 11:45 am #

    That is what I always have and ever will be for. Equal rights for EVERYONE!

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