This week, when the National Organization For Marriage gathers in D.C. to encourage the United States Supreme Court to continue the unequal treatment of certain families, it's unlikely that any of the eighteen speakers that NOM has assembled for its "March for Marriage" will describe marriage equality as a "satanic plot to destroy our seed" or homosexuality as a "public health risk." It's also safe to assume that none of the recruited voices will equate children of same-sex parents to kids who lost parents on 9/11 or instruct gay people that their relationships are to stop at only "chaste friendships." Nor is it likely that NOM president Brian Brown will use his allotted time to tell parents they should attend an "ex-gay" conference as a way to "prevent your child from embracing this destructive way of life."
Thing is? The speakers won't need to say any of this stuff because they've already said all of this and more! As it turns out, nine of the twenty presenters who NOM has lined up to speak at its rally are anti-LGBTR voices whose rhetoric we have ably documented in GLAAD's Commentator Accountability Project. Here is a handy graphic with one lone example for each speaker.
(*Graphic by Scott Wooledge)
What you see above is not a collection of atypical quips. These are voices who pride themselves on—and, in some cases, define themselves by—sentiments that extend well beyond the subject of marriage and instead cut right into human sexual orienation and gender identity. For full set of comments, see their individual CAP profiles.
- Harry Jackson
- Bob Vander Plaats
- Jim Garlow
- Tami Fitzgerald
- Penny Nance
- Robert George
- Brian Brown
- Gary Bauer
- Jennifer Roback Morse
- Thomas Peters (*not speaking but is organizing the march for NOM)
But it's not even just the speakers we've already documented. NOM has invited other speakers who are just as aggressive but whose profiles aren't sizable enough to make it into CAP. There is a Puerto Rican pastor, Wanda Rolón, who claims singer Ricky Martin to be "Hell's ambassador." There's Rev. Willie Owens, a man—NOM's named religious liasion, in fact—who claims "homosexuality spreads because somebody abused children" and who has wondered why "if it’s a civil right for a man to marry man, and a woman to marry woman, what’s the difference of a man deciding he wants to have sex with a dog?" There's Cathy Ruse, who has said (@6:12 in this video) that "it can be child abuse" to support a transgender child and who has once said that a trans girl is a "poor little boy desperately [who] needs a father." And so on and so forth.
These are the voices that NOM will use to suggest that they are simply out to "protect marriage." Why should anyone believe them, exactly?
And then in addition to the individual speakers, there are also the groups that are co-sponsoring alongside NOM. Among them:
- The Family Research Council, the SPLC-designated "hate group" whose president claims gay people are "engaged in behavior, activity, and an agenda that will destroy them and our nation," whose senior policy fellow has said he sees a place for criminal sanctions that apply to homosexuality, and whose VP of Church Ministries says that FRC's fight is "against the organized, mobilized, demonized forces of hell itself"
- Focus on the Family, an organization that claims on its main website (in the marriage section, no less) that homosexuality is "a particularly evil lie of Satan."
- Citizens For Community Values, an Ohio based outfit that calls for gay people's "healing"
- The World Congress of Families, an organization that recently hosted a seminar titled "Solutions to Homosexual Behavior"
- TFP, a Catholic group whose aggressive slights against the LGBT community are too varied and many too even sum up; see some of them here.
These are the kinds of organizations that NOM considers its allies in the fight against civil marriage equality. Again, why should any of us believe that marriage is the be all and end all of this planned march?
Here's the thing: This march, on this historic day outside the high court, is bound to garner lots of press attention. When that happens, the press has a responsiblity to accurately represent what these speakers and organizations really seek. As I said at the beginning of this post, it is pretty much guaranteed that none of the speakers will use their time at the podium to run down the hostile things they have said. However, the very reason many of them are prominent enough to earn such an invite is because of their penchant for saying such things. In order to get a real sense of why this march is happening, what led so many of them to take time out of their days to fight against civil fairness, and what motivations are underlying the entire event, responsible reporters must take a look at what these voices are saying when the spotlight glare isn't as bright.