All sorts of repugnant religious groups vie for the ears of mainstream politicians; few succeed in gaining the attention they want. Fewer still earn the enthusiastic endorsement of national party leaders such as Mitt Romney, John Boehner, Newt Gingrich, and Rick (I-am-so-not-not-not gay!) Santorum. One such group that has found favor with and giddy endorsements from these fellas is the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), whose co-founder, Robert George, House Speaker Boehner appointed to a government commission whose job it is to look into religious extremism and bigotry here and abroad.
Talk about irony.
As the New York Times reports, a federal judge in Maine ordered unsealed memos from NOM because they are germane to a case filed over "whether the group must disclose the donors who helped underwrite" its 2009 effort that helped overturn Maine's marriage equality law.
Because the National Organization for Marriage claims its mission is social welfare (and was granted the designation) it believes it should be exempt from donor disclosure laws. The unsealed memoranda show without question that NOM is -- whatever else it may be -- a political organization. As the Times put it, the memos "brag about its 'crucial' role in passage of Proposition 8, California's ban on same-sex marriage", recently overturned by a federal appeals court. NOM also writes in these documents about using "robo-calls to scare residents" in various "states...from supporting marriage equality."
What makes NOM's memos particularly vile is that they state a clear strategy to divide African and Hispanic Americans from LGBT voters, all three traditionally Democratic-leaning groups One memo states: "The strategic goal...is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks -- two key Democratic constituencies."
Most know that a significant (but declining) percentage of African Americans and Hispanics have viewed LGBT Equality primarily through a traditional religious, and not a civil rights, lens. I raised up that issue here last week when I focused on Coretta Scott King's conviction that had Dr. King lived, he'd have long since helped to fold into the general civil rights movement the cause of full legal rights for gay citizens. NOM hoped that driving wedges among these traditional Democratic constituencies would redound to the benefit of men such as Messrs. Boehner, Gingrich, Romney, and the perhaps forever sexually-compromised Santorum.(Ok. Yes. I know I am a Bad Person. But Come On. Anyone with gay sex more on his mind than gay sex is on gay peoples' minds....)
The unsealed NOM memos offer many more venal, condescending examples of strategies that serve, more than anything else, to stress NOM's three fundamental ideas:
. LGBT and others those who support equality are evil;
. gay marriage weakens heterosexual marriage -- someone please, please explain how that one even comes close to making a shred of sense;
. and that Blacks and Hispanic citizens are weak-minded clay.
You tell me which of these 'ideas' is most offensive and irrational: it's a tough choice.
America's racial minorities are accustomed to sickening attempts at their infantilization. They increasingly reject these cheap efforts. They are accustomed to hearing the Right's condescension for crass gain. They haven't taken it now for generations.
It's no wonder that the same people who think restricting women's health options, such as contraceptive use, long-since settled by vast majorities of Americans, can be a significant key to a November win...these people also imagine that African- and Hispanic-Americans can forever remain blinded by old, worn out expressions of intimidation wrapped in narrow religious ideology.
The fact that NOM resorted to these strategies is all you need to know to see that what NOM and its allies fear most is happening: attitudes among racial minorities are changing. Marriage equality is now the law in New York and Maryland. Both states are home to significant minority populations. In racially diverse North Carolina, where a vote will soon take place to determine if that state will forbid Equality in its state constitution, polling indicates that the measure will likely lose. Were Californians to vote again on the issue, it is likely that religious-based fear mongering would not again result in the modest 4% win seen in 2008.
I am pleased that NOM and its supporters and beneficiaries have been shown to be what they are. That's always the beginning of the well-deserved, slow deaths of policies informed by bigotry. They all belong to a fast fading America that, as these schemes are increasingly exposed, will never be again. The America I know, that I see, that we all will see, is better.