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NOM Facebook, blog hacked

Blog post, Facebook status update, and tweet could indicate change of policy, or a rogue employee

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The initial NOM post appeared around 6:00 a.m. April 11, and was followed by several comments that seemed to confirm the change of course. (Screen shot courtesy Jeremy Hooper)

Around 7:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, several sources reported that both the NOM Facebook page and Twitter account posted strange tweets that seemed to indicate a change of heart, but instead it seems the messages were the result of a lapse in security.

According to the Advocate, Elizabeth Ray of CRC Public Relations, who handles media inquiries for the National Organization for Marriage, confirmed to the Advocate Magazine that NOM’s Facebook, Twitter and blog were indeed hacked and that the group was working this morning to restore its online content, however at this time, they seem to have lost complete control over their Twitter account, @Nomtweets.

It was not clear at first whether or not the National Organization for Marriage actually posted the comment on their Facebook wall that caught the attention of prominent National Organization for Marriage watchdog Jeremy Hooper of the GoodAsYou.org blog. The post was made outside of normal business hours, which immediately raised questions as to its authenticity, but as of 10:00 a.m. the post was still live, showing the extent to which NOM had lost control of their own digital presence.

The Facebook post read “We sincerely apologize to anyone we have banned from this page in the past. That is why anyone who was ever banned for simply exercising their right to free speech is now welcome to once again engage with this page. We vow to work on how we address our opponents in the future.”

“The details of NOM’s overtaken web properties are for the organization, its potential in-house detractors, and its web security team to have out,” Hooper told the Blade Wednesday morning, before the hacking was confirmed.. “Personally, I’m focusing on the fact that I, after several years of being banned for doing nothing more than disagreeing with the NOM view, can participate in a fair and free discourse on the NOM Facebook wall. Everyone, on both sides of this so-called culture war deserves that.”

“If this is a hack and NOM responds by again banning commenters who don’t deserve to be banned? To me, that will be lock-solid proof of the [organization’s] desire to host a monologue, not a conversation,” Hooper concluded.

The Facebook post, which has already generated over one hundred comments, most quite supportive of the move, was joined by a similar Twitter postings.

NOM's Twitter account showed similar activity, indicating an actual change of heart, or a rogue employee. (Screen shot courtesy Jeremy Hooper)

After posting additional tweets that confirmed the errant messages did not originate from the organization’s leadership, the Twitter account seemed to go completely offline. However, before 10:00 a.m. the Twitter account reappeared, wiped completely clean of NOM’s old content, and began tweeting pro-gay messages. Apparently the hackers deleted the account, and an industrious LGBT activist was able to secure control over the username before NOM could regain control.

"We were embarrassed by the truth of our racial wedge strategies being made public." (Screen shot courtesy Jeremy Hooper)

Though NOM is now blaming these actions on an industrious hacker, some have wondered aloud in the blogosphere whether they could be the result of another staff defector. In April 2011, Louis Marinelli, who guided NOM’s social media presence to that point, abruptly turned on the organization and deleted its Twitter and Facebook presence in the process. He later came forward to profess he’d lost faith in the organization and that — after meeting and having real conversations with real same-sex couples — had come to support same-sex marriage.

At just 7:51 a.m. A new post to the NOM blog was pushed live, attributed to Brian Brown, that implied NOM was showing contrition, and making a shift in the tenor of public discourse.

“Friends of marriage,

“In the last couple of weeks you’ve heard some pretty bad things about this organization. I must admit that we were angered when our in house documents were released but we’ve since had time to reflect on the strategies we’ve employed to divide Americans against each other on the issue of marriage. Truth be told, marriage is about bringing people together, not pushing them apart and that’s exactly what this organization has been about over the past few years.

“Aside from that on an unrelated matter, we’ve stifled free speech on our social media online properties. We’re rectifying that this morning by removing the bans on the hundreds and hundreds of our opponents our staff imposed. We want to encourage an open and fair discussion about marriage and that can only happen if we welcome our outspoken opponents back into the dialogue.

“We apologize for our transgressions. We’re turning over a new leaf with constitutional and civil rights as our primary focus going forward. We hope you will stand with us as we turn things around for the better.”

"We've banned so many, we're working on unbanning them all but it is a time-consuming process." (Screen Shot courtesy Jeremy Hooper)

NOM’S blog site was soon replaced with a message reading “down for maintenance” after the uncharacteristic post was discovered. This more clearly indicated the post was the result of a hacker or rogue employee, rather than a change is course, however, whether or not this was a defector or someone from outside of the organization still remains to be seen.

In addition to the Facebook post, the blog posting and the Tweet, the hackers of the Facebook page also left several comments on the original post that seemed to apologize for NOM’s race-baiting strategies discovered in the pages of court documents made public by the Human Rights Campaign last month.

“We were embarrassed by the truth of our racial wedge strategies being made public,” read one comment. “So this is a gesture of our good faith to turn things around.”

Jeremy Hooper's comment. (Screen shot courtesy Jeremy Hooper)

“We’ve banned so many, we’re working on unbanning them all but it is a time-consuming process,” read another post several minutes later.

After his Facebook commenting ability was restored on the NOM fan page, Jeremy Hooper was quick to add to the voices on the post, though he was skeptical that this would be a permanent change.

“I’ve never once left a disrespectful comment, yet have been banned for years now (with screen cap proof of the unreasonable banning),” Hooper wrote. “Nice to be back, however temporary.”

The @NOMtweets Twitter account seems to continue to be in the control of the hackers, and continues to push pro-gay messages. No word as to whether or not NOM has found a new home on Twitter.

Originally published 8:05 a.m. Wednesday, April 11, 2012.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Leo Degrandmaison

    April 11, 2012 at 8:41 am

    I hope its true and thy are having a change of heart

  2. Bruce Majors

    April 12, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Wow. Vandalism. When do we move up to murder and rape of people with whom we disagree? We already have Hillary Rosen, the BP lobbyist, out there attacking moms. Way to go gay politicos! Maybe the movement would be better off if we dropped you all in the Chapaquidick.

  3. C Anderson

    April 12, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    I love it! And as for calling it “vandalism” and a step in the direction of murder and rape, BM, that’s a bit over the top, I think.

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National

In a historic first, Colorado now has a 1st gentleman as Gov. Polis marries

The governor and his now husband decided to hold their nuptials on the 18th anniversary of their first date

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Governor Jared Polis and 1st Gentleman Marlon Reis exchange vows (Screenshot via CBS News Denver)

DENVER – Colorado’s Democratic Governor Jared Polis married his longtime partner Marlon Reis in a ceremony that marked the first same-sex marriage of a sitting Out governor in the United States.

The couple was married Wednesday in a small traditional Jewish ceremony at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where Reis had matriculated and graduated from. The governor and his now husband decided to hold their nuptials on the 18th anniversary of their first date.

“We met online and went out on a date and we went to the Boulder bookstore and then went to dinner,” Polis told KCFR-FM, Colorado Public Radio (CPR).

In addition to family and close friends in attendance, the couple’s two children participated with their 7-year-old daughter serving as the flower girl and their 9-year-old son as the ring bearer.

The governor joked that their daughter was probably more thrilled than anyone about the wedding. “She was all in on being a flower girl. She’s been prancing around. She got a great dress. She’s terrific,” he said CPR reported.

Their son was also happy, but more ambivalent about it all according to Reis. “Kids are so modern that their responses to things are sometimes funny. Our son honestly asked us, ‘Why do people get married?”

Colorado’s chief executive, sworn in as the 43rd governor of Colorado in January 2019, over the course of nearly 20 years as a political activist and following in public service as an elected official has had several ‘firsts’ to his credit.

In 2008 Polis is one of the few people to be openly Out when first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as well as being the first gay parent to serve in the Congress. Then on November 6, 2018, he was the first openly gay governor elected in Colorado and in the United States.

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Gov. Jared Polis And First Gentleman Marlon Reis Are Newlyweds

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U.S. Catholic theologians call for LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections

Joint statement says church teachings support equality

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More than 750 of the nation’s leading Catholic theologians, church leaders, scholars, educators, and writers released a joint statement on Sept. 14 expressing strong support for nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people.

The six-page theological statement, “A Home for All: A Catholic Call for LGBTQ Non-Discrimination,” was scheduled to be published along with the names of its 759 signatories as a four-page advertisement on Sept. 17 in the National Catholic Reporter, a newspaper widely read by Catholic clergy and laypeople.

The statement was initiated by New Ways Ministry, a Mount Rainier, Md., based Catholic group that advocates for equality for LGBTQ people within the church and society at large.

“As Catholic theologians, scholars, church leaders, writers, and ministers, we affirm that Catholic teaching presents a positive case for ending discrimination against LGBTQ people,” the statement says. “We affirm the Second Vatican Council’s demand that ‘any kind of social or cultural discrimination…must be curbed and eradicated,’” it says.

“We affirm that Catholic teaching should not be used to further oppress LGBTQ people by denying rights rooted in their inherent human dignity and in the church’s call for social equality,” the statement adds.

The statement notes that its signers recognize that a “great debate” is currently taking place within the Catholic Church about whether same-gender relationships and transgender identities should be condoned or supported.

“That is a vital discussion for the future of Catholicism, and one to which we are whole-heartedly committed,” the statement continues. “What we are saying in this statement, however, is relatively independent of that debate, and the endorsers of this statement may hold varied, and even opposing, opinions on sexual and gender matters,” it says.

Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministries executive director, said his organization and the signers of the statement feel the issue of nondiscrimination for LGBTQ people can and should be supported by Catholic leaders and the church itself even if some are not yet ready to support same-sex marriage and sexual and gender identity matters.

“LGBTQ non-discrimination is being debated at all levels in our society, and the Catholic perspective on this is often misrepresented, even by some church leaders,” DeBernardo said. “Catholics who have studied and reflected deeply on this topic agree that non-discrimination is the most authentic Catholic position,” he said. 

DeBernardo said those who helped draft the statement decided it would be best to limit it to a theological appeal and argument for LGBTQ equality and non-discrimination and not to call for passage of specific legislation such as the Equality Act, the national LGBTQ civil rights bill pending in the U.S. Congress.

The Equality Act calls for amending existing federal civil rights laws to add nondiscrimination language protecting LGBTQ people in areas such as employment, housing, and public accommodations. The U.S. House approved the legislation, but the Senate has yet to act on it.

“We wanted this to be a theological statement, not a political statement,” DeBernardo said.

He said organizers of the project to prepare the statement plan to send it, among other places, to the Vatican in Rome and to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which has expressed opposition to the Equality Act.

Among the key signers of the statement were 242 administrators, faculty, and staff from Sacred Heart University, a Catholic college in Bridgeport, Conn. New Ways Ministries says the statement was circulated by the school’s administration and eight of its top leaders, including President John Petillo, are among the signers.

Some of the prominent writers who signed the statement include Sister Helen Prejean, author of “Dead Man Walking;” Richard Rodriquez, author of “Hunger of Memory;” Gary Wills, author of “Lincoln at Gettysburg;” and Gregory Maguire, author of “Wicked.”

The full text of the statement and its list of signatories can be accessed at the New Ways Ministry website.

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Activists reflect on Black Trans Lives Matter movement resurgence

Blade speaks with Alex Santiago, Jasmyne Cannick

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An I Am Human Foundation billboard along Atlanta's Downtown Connector expressway on Feb. 22, 2021. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The world came to a standstill last year as a video surfaced online that showed then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin murdering George Floyd. The video went viral and sparked numerous protests against racism and police brutality in the U.S. and around the world as many people felt it a potent time to relay their frustrations with and to their governments.

For the LGBTQ community, these protests brought to light the need for human rights for transgender individuals as the murders of people like Tony McDade in Florida and Nina Pop in Missouri reawakened the flame within the Black Trans Lives Matter movement.

A tribute to Tony McDade in downtown Asheville, N.C., in June 2020. McDade was a Black transgender man who was shot and killed by a white police officer in Tallahassee, Fla., on May 27, 2020. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The Washington Blade more than a year later spoke with Alex Santiago, executive director of the I Am Human Foundation in Atlanta, and Jasmyne Cannick, a Democratic political strategist and journalist in Los Angeles, to reflect on last year’s Black Trans Lives Matter movement, how far it has come, and what’s in store for the future. 

Uplifting voices often silenced

Participating in the Black Lives Matter protests was an easy decision for Santiago. He is a member of the Legendary House of Garcon, a ballroom house headquartered in D.C. 

Although the house is composed mostly of LGBTQ members, Santiago still felt the need to center trans voices and experiences by visually representing them during Black Lives Matter marches. 

“[I decided that] when I go I’m going to have signs that say ‘Black Trans Lives Matter.’ After talking to a couple of the people in the house, they said it was a great idea. So, they got these t-shirts made that incorporated the trans colors [baby blue, baby pink and white],” says Santiago.

Out of the 250 people in the Legendary House of Garcon, 175 showed up to D.C. from other states to march in solidarity with Black trans people. Santiago says that from what he was told, his was the largest group of activists representing Black trans lives at protests. 

“At first I thought people were going to look at us crazy, like, ‘Why are you separating yourselves or being exclusive?’. But, we got a great response from the general population that was there that day. It was a good day,” says Santiago.

Cannick, who was in Los Angeles during the protests, lent her efforts to platforming pertinent issues. She identifies herself as an ally and a “friend” to the LGBTQ community. 

“I’m active in the LA community and everybody knows me. So, whenever something happens, someone is hurt, someone is killed or someone needs to get the word out about something that’s going on particularly as it relates to the trans community, I’m always asked to get involved, and I do,” says Cannick. 

Over the past year, she reported on multiple LGBTQ issues including the trial of Ed Buck, a Democratic political fundraiser who was convicted in the deaths of two gay Black men who he injected with methamphetamine in exchange for sex.

What happened to the BTLM movement and what needs to change?

The nature of many social movements is that as the intense emotion surrounding them fades, people’s fervor for change wanes as well. This is especially true with allies who are not directly linked to the cause.

“Fatigue and frustration at the relatively slow pace of change to a growing backlash on the right against efforts to call out systemic racism and white privilege — has led to a decline in white support for the Black Lives Matter movement since last spring, when white support for social justice was at its peak,” US News reports about the Black Lives Matter movement.

Cannick believes this is the same for the Black Trans Lives Matter movement. She says Americans allow the media to dictate how it behaves and responds to issues. Thus, when stories “fall out of our media cycles … they fall out of our memories.”

“I think that’s not going to change, and that’s a psychological thing, until we learn how to not let the media necessarily dictate our issues,” says Cannick. 

She suggests that individuals remain plugged into their communities by “doing anything to make sure they keep up with an issue” including following the “right people” on social media and setting up Google alerts for any breaking news. 

Jasmyne Cannick (Photo courtesy of Jasmyne Cannick)

Santiago also echoes Cannick’s sentiments. 

“We wait until something happens before we do something. And, I don’t want to be retroactive; I want to be proactive. I want people to see me when things are going well [and when they’re not going well],” says Santiago. 

Upon returning to his home in Atlanta after the D.C. protests, Santiago contacted a billboard installation company and paid for a billboard labelled, “Black Trans Lives Matter” to be displayed on University Avenue near downtown Atlanta. He says that the billboards got attention and helped to spread much-needed awareness. Following this success, he is now in the process of installing a new billboard labelled, “Black, Trans and Visible. My life Matters.”

“Unless you’re in people’s faces or something drastic happens, people forget. Unless you’re living it, people forget,” says Santiago.

As time progresses, both Santiago and Cannick nest hope for the Black Trans Lives Matter movement. However, this hope can only persist when crucial steps are taken to ensure Black trans individuals around the country are protected, most importantly through legislation.

The New York Times reports there are close to 1,000 elected LGBTQ officials in the U.S., with at least one in each state except Mississippi. 

“We need to have more legislation. We need more voices in power like the council Biden has right now,” says Santiago. 

“You know that [Biden] has a lot of trans people and Black trans people [involved], and a part of that’s a positive step in the right direction, but we need that times 10,” says Santiago.

He believes that political representation should extend to local governance where ordinary Black trans individuals can be trained to assume leadership roles. 

Cannick’s focus is on the Black community. 

“[Trans women] are usually murdered by Black men. If we ever expect that to change, we need to start talking about that,” says Cannick.

She’s open to having conversations that put people, including her as a cis-identifying woman, in uncomfortable and awkward spaces. 

She hosts a podcast titled “Str8 No Chaser” and recently aired an episode, “Why Are Black Men Killing Trans Women,” where she discussed with three Black trans women about the gender and sexuality dynamics within the Black community and their perils. 

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