The National Organization for Marriage appears to have backed itself into a hole recently when their affiliated Ruth Institute advertised the donation of Chicago Bears merchandise on their website.
Equality Matters was quick to report on the incident when they noticed that the Ruth Institute's annual It Takes a Family (ITAF) conference, which is aimed towards teaching youth that marriage is between one man and one woman, started advertising the chance for conference attendants to win autographed Chicago Bears memorabilia. The two items in the raffle include an autographed jersey from Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher and an autographed picture from the team's former standout running back, Walter Payton. The group showcased these two specific raffle items by stating:
For now, you should know that we have two fabulous raffle items from the Chicago Bears Organization (and a huge THANK YOU to the Bears for supporting our message).
Disheartening to be sure, it isn't good to see a professional sports team publicly support an organization with such unequal and ostracizing viewpoints.
Well, it would be, if the Bears did support the conference. Which they do not.
After being alerted to the two items on the website the Bears issued this statement:
"The two items featured in The Ruth Institute gala invitation were personal (in other words unaffiliated) donations to (President) Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse. Neither was a club donation, nor do they represent the team's view on any social issues. Any remarks stating otherwise are false."
One of the palyers whose memorabilia is being auctioned off also spoke out against the inclusion of Bears merchandise into NOM's raffle. "I sign a lot of stuff for charity and I don't always know where it goes," stated Bears Linebacker Brian Urlacher to the tribune. Urlacher, also added that, "If I would have known it was for this cause, I wouldn't have done it."
Eventually, The Chicago Tribune reported that The Ruth Institute dropped all references to the Bears at the team's request and issued this statement:
"The Ruth Institute is not working with the Chicago Bears organization or any of its players past or present to promote our upcoming auction. The memorabilia we are auctioning off was acquired by (President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morris) personally, not through the team or players. We understand that the Chicago Bears organization takes no position on social issues, and we regret any confusion we may have caused on this point."
The Ruth Institute eventually amended their ITAF Gala promo page to also make clear that both auction items were donated by individuals, "not the team or the players".
NOM declined to state why they thanked the Bears for supporting the organization even though they never directly worked with the team. It should be noted that the Ruth Institute's Jennifer Roback Morse got into hot water with the family of Tyler Clementi for exploiting his death recently, and this incident wouldn't even scratch the surface of the anti-gay things she's done and said over the years. (Check out her Commentator Accountability Project profile for more) Overall, the situation is just one more that leaves more people scratching their heads at NOM's actions than agreeing with them.
We thank the Bears and Brian Urlacher for standing by their convictions and not supporting NOM's anti-gay message.