March 28, 2012 at 12:46 pm EDT | by Phil Reese
NOM sought to divide gays, blacks
Brian Brown, National Organization for Marriage, gay news, gay politics dc

NOM President Brian Brown responded to the document leak this week, claiming the anti-gay group works with black and Hispanic leaders to combat marriage equality. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Human Rights Campaign this week revealed internal documents it obtained from the anti-gay group National Organization for Marriage that reveal a strategy to “drive a wedge between gays and blacks.”

NOM’s internal communications released by HRC originate from court-led investigations in Maine over ethics violations during the 2009 battle to overturn Maine’s marriage law.

“The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks—two key Democratic constituencies,” the documents read. “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.”

“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,” another passage reads. “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.”

LGBT and black leaders were quick to condemn the language revealed in the documents.

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

“It confirmed a suspicion that some evil hand was behind this,” Bond told The Hill newspaper.

Others echoed Bond’s criticism.

“African-American men and women of faith are not a political football to be tossed around in a cynical game of resentment and division, said minister Leslie Watson Malachi, director of People For the American Way Foundation’s African-American Ministers Leadership Council. “We, like all Americans, struggle thoughtfully with issues of faith, family and politics. Anti-equality activists such as NOM consistently attempt to use a deeply cynical ‘wedge’ strategy to divide African Americans and the gay community, playing up what are now old and tired clichés.”

“NOM’s wedge strategy memos detail its campaign to funnel money to a handful of African-American clergy in order to attack gay couples and, appallingly, discredit the strong and clear voice of those African-American civil rights champions, such as John Lewis, Julian Bond, and Coretta Scott King, who have stood up for the freedom to marry and the equal civil rights of all people, including gay people of color,” said Freedom To Marry President Evan Wolfson in response to the document release.

NOM President Brian Brown addressed the controversy in a Tuesday statement.

“[NOM] has worked extensively with supporters of traditional marriage from every color, creed and background,” Brown’s statement read. “We have worked with prominent African-American and Hispanic leaders, including Dr. Alveda C. King, Bishop George McKinney of the COGIC Church, Bishop Harry Jackson and the New York State Senator Reverend Rubén Díaz Sr., all of whom share our concern about protecting marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Gay marriage is not a civil right, and we will continue to point this out in written materials such as those released in Maine.”

The documents, however, point to an organizational vision that stretched beyond attempting to halt domestic efforts to attain marriage rights for same-sex couples. The memos point to efforts to attack White House programs that, in NOM’s words, “have the effect of sexualizing young children.”

The group also sought to broaden its focus into other social issues, addressing plans for “developing side issues,” through its “American Principles Project” such as pornography, issues surrounding the Guantanamo Prison, opposing administration appointments and divorce.

The group discussed finding “glamorous non-cognitive elites across national boundaries,” when approaching Hollywood — which they accused of having “cultural biases” — by “proactively seeking to gather and connect a community of artists, athletes, writers, beauty queens.”

The only celebrity known to work directly with NOM as a spokesperson is former Miss California, Carrie Prejean, who made national headlines when she responded to a question by Perez Hilton about same-sex marriage by saying she opposed extending rights to gay couples.

Often, the internal NOM communications brag about NOM’s outsized role in funding the media tactics used to turn out California voters in favor of 2008’s Proposition 8.

“The stunning degree of crass exploitation and diabolical political tactics revealed in these documents is unconscionable,” said Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen. “This is a smoking gun that clearly shows a profound disrespect for the very minority groups that NOM is targeting. Clearly, divisiveness and dishonesty are what fuels the anti-marriage equality movement.”

In addition, HRC identified other key revelations from the records, including the creation of a highly paid position to identify dissatisfied children of gay parents willing to go on camera to disparage their families.


  • Let’s all put pressure on US Atty Machen to bring Bishop Harry Jackson to justice. Mr. Jackson registered to vote in DC, attempted to get same sex marriage on the ballot and took the case to the US Supreme Court as a DC resident. In fact Mr. Jackson has never lied in Dc but ather Maryland, and further evidence is he has not paid or filed a DC Tax Return. This was brought to the attention of the Us Atty but no action was evr taken. It’s time Ron Machen took legal action against these type of haters, tax evaders and voter frauds occuring with in his jurisdiciton! RON GET ON THIS OR WE WILL GET ON YOU!

  • Unfortunately, NOM’s tactics have been successful. The reality is that homophobia is still very prevalent in the Latino and African-American communities, and anti-gay groups will exploit it for their own ends. While there are some enlightened leaders who have spoken out in favor of LGBT equality, they simply can’t deliver the votes on issues such as Proposition 8. We need to keep educating people, changing their hearts and minds until we achieve full equality.

  • Actually, if you read the subsequent article detailing the violent attack on a Gay Man, and the shooting of another, I don’t believe the organization in question has too much work to do. The divide already exists. Let’s not ignore the real motivation by falsifying the facts.

  • I must say that I find the furor over NOM’s tactics to be disingenuous. We know the organization to be homophobic. Why should we be shocked (shocked!!!) by their strategy? It’s only common sense to divide one’s foes. Dividing your enemies is a time tested tactic dating back to the dawn of human society. The success of Prop 8 was due not only to NOM’s strategies but the failures of the gay and lesbian communities’ tactical and strategic failures. We seem to have a hard, if not impossible, time accepting this fact.

  • “NOM’s underhanded attempts to divide will not succeed if Black Americans remember their own history of discrimination.” [JULIAN BOND]. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT SENTENCE IN THIS STORY – BUT NOT FOR THE REASON LGBT PEOPLE MAY THINK. MR. BOND’S STATEMENT D-I-D N-O-T SAY “BLACK AMERICANS” SUPPORT HOMOSEXUAL MARRIAGE. IN ESSENCE, MR. BOND SAID IF NEGROES REMEMBER THE BAD WAYS WE HAVE BEEN TREATED WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO BE COMPASSIONATE TOWARD THE BAD WAYS HOMOSEXUALS ARE N-O-W TREATED. [People, compassion is NOT the same thing as endorsement. Think about it; NOM would not have “traction” with Negro-community groups without receptive Negro ears].

  • Robert George, founder of NOM, just was appointed to the US Commission for International Religious Freedom. NOM’s talking points, arguments and strategies come from this man, who calls for the arrest and imprisonment and promoting bigotry of LGBT people. If you believe NOM’s tactics are reprehensible, please take the time to fill out this petition on the White House’s webpage condemning the appointment of Robert George. Pass the word along and post where you it is appropriate.


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