On Tuesday the courts allowed the Human Rights Campaign to unlock an explosive cache of secret records from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). What they revealed is that there is no gutter too filthy, no swamp too slimy, and no cesspool too sickening for the leaders of NOM to slither into in their offensive efforts to stop same-sex couples from marrying.
This historic data dump was a smoking gun that revealed NOM's breathtaking cynicism, predatory behavior, and ignoble character. The group's diabolical efforts included pitting minorities against each other to create deep suspicion and intense hostility. According to one memo:
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. No politician wants to take up and push an issue that splits the base of his party. Fanning the hostility raised in the wake of Prop 8 is key to raising the costs of pushing gay marriage to its advocates ... find attractive young black Democrats to challenge white gay marriage advocates electorally.
Instead of working to bring Americans together, the goal of NOM is to sow the seeds of mistrust and tear different groups apart. Instead of harmony, they promote acrimony. Forget the great American melting pot; NOM simply stirs the pot of bitterness and division.
The memos show that NOM's leaders, Brian Brown and Maggie Gallagher, opportunistically focus on politics and forget that real people are harmed by their efforts to shame and stigmatize gay and lesbian families. At a minimum, their parasitic plans raise the temperature and tensions between diverse groups, and at worst, it is a recipe for potential violence.
African Americans were not the only group used like expendable plastic cups at a picnic. Latino youth were targeted in one memo, with NOM vowing to exploit them to foment intolerance against the LGBT community:
[B]y searching for these leaders across national boundaries we will assemble a community of next generation Latino leaders that Hispanics and other next generation elites in this country can aspire to be like. (As "ethnic rebels" such spokespeople will also have an appeal across racial lines, especially to young urbans in America) ... Our ultimate goal is to make opposition to gay marriage an identity marker, a badge of youth rebellion to conformist association to the bad side of "Anglo" culture.
And from a 2009 report to its board of directors, marked "confidential":
The Latino vote in America is a key swing vote, and will be so even more so 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.
Given what we now know, young minorities that embrace NOM should not feel cool but instead should realize that they are tools that are doing the bidding of a few overpaid, white zealots with an insincere political agenda cooked up in a banal Washington conference room. This is not truly about reflecting black or Latino culture but promulgating a wicked culture of corruption where the lies of scheming lobbyists are slickly packaged and cunningly sold to voters.
NOM's deceptively sunny mask has been ripped off, and the dripping, bloody fangs are now visible. The tepid "liberal" media and the public can no longer credibly remain in denial about Gallagher and Brown's Machiavellian motives. This group is not merely about protecting traditional marriage, as they falsely claim. NOM is a virulently homophobic hate group that facilely exploits Jesus to justify its malodorous methods.
Indeed, NOM's mean-spirited, anti-gay campaigns helped lead Louis Marinelli, the former organizer of the group's bus tour, to leave NOM in 2011.
"We have to stop seeing things in black and white all the time and that is, I'm afraid, what NOM does in terms of marriage," Marinelli told blogger Jeremy Hooper. "The world isn't black and white, it's yellow, it's green, it's purple, it's red, orange, it's blue."
The damning memos are a piercing view into NOM's corrosive mindset. If anything, we can finally move beyond the phony spin and get down to the substance of why this group disdains LGBT people so much that to "win," it rationalizes the use of subversive strategies that undermine our nation's cohesion and core values.