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Calling All Black People: NOM Wants to Use You

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Black folks, this is a message for you: The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the country's preeminent group fighting against same-sex marriage, really, really likes you. They even want to make some of you famous!

Have NOM's principal leaders, former president Maggie Gallagher and current leader Brian S. Brown, stood up for African Americans before? Well, not so much. But it turns out that they've decided that you're actually very important.

That unexpected revelation came out yesterday, when the pro-LGBT Human Rights Campaign publicized the contents of some previously confidential 2009 documents outlining NOM's strategies for winning the national battle for "traditional marriage." (The documents were just unsealed in a Maine court case over NOM's refusal to identify its donors there, as required by state law.) "The strategic goal of this project," NOM said, "is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks -- two key Democratic constituencies. We aim to find, equip, energize and connect African-American spokespeople for marriage; to develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; and to provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots."

Translation: Let's get people who support marriage equality to denounce black opponents, making them look like evil racists. Maybe that'll make people forget that the vast majority of black civil rights leaders support same-sex marriage.

Could this be something more than simply exploiting black people -- folks who NOM figures would be hard for Democrats to criticize without splitting their base -- for the cynical uses of opponents of same-sex marriage?

No, NOM's pretty transparent about that. The "project" to which its call for a wedge strategy refers carries this title in the newly released document: "Not a Civil Rights Project." They couldn't make it much clearer than that, could they?

The newly released documents are remarkable, in part, because NOM has made much of keeping its battle, as well as its propaganda, both civil and factual. But as we say in a story published today -- an article on NOM originally scheduled to be published in the forthcoming May issue of the Intelligence Report -- NOM can be less than honest in its use of propaganda. Among other things, we point out that although NOM says it has no evidence that gay men molest children at higher rates than straight men, it frequently links to websites of others who do. We also point out that NOM, despite its claims, keeps bringing up the subject of children and sex.

Turns out that's part of the plan, too. In one NOM documents entitled "Sideswiping Obama," the group urges activists to raise "such issues as pornography" and "the protection of children." "We will put a special focus on exposing those administration programs that have the effect of sexualizing children," along with other "policy threats to children."

What do pornography and sexual threats to children have to do with same-sex marriage? Well, nothing really. But as another NOM document points out, the object isn't so much to appeal to rational argument, but rather "a new, more emotionally powerful set of messages." You know, like gay men molesting your kids.

Let's get back to using certain racial and ethnic groups to battle same-sex marriage for a moment. NOM points out that the Latino vote in America is "a key swing vote" and suggests a good way to appeal to that constituency: "[G]ather and connect a community of artists, athletes, writers, beauty queens and other glamorous noncognitive elites." And they've already talked to a former Mexican beauty queen! Because Latinos apparently are into those "glamorous noncongnitive elites."

NOM isn't the first organization to use such cynical marketing ploys, schemes that seem to have little do with the interests of the people they claim to represent, and it certainly won't be the last. But the revelation of its bald attempt to exploit black people and Latinos should help end the idea that NOM is an honorable group that would never engage in race-baiting. Because that is precisely what it has done.