NOM's attempts to flout democracy are still illegal, courts find

The National Organization for Marriage, the once-powerful anti-LGBT group who has not had a victory since early 2012, has mostly been in the headlines because of its attempts to withhold donor information from courts. The group maintains it has the right to keep donor names private despite the effort’s clear illegality. 

In Maine, the organization was required to register as a ballot committee when it worked against marriage equality in a 2009 ballot initiative similar to California’s Proposition 8. The registration requirement is imposed to ensure transparency and to discourage disproportionate campaign contributions by requiring a public list of donors. This list would have been especially beneficial to voters in 2009 considering NOM provided over two thirds of the contributions against LGBT marriage equality. Without registering and providing a list of names, the organization worked in a veil of secrecy, which did not allow voters to make well-informed decisions when they cast their vote. The staff of Maine’s Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices has recommended a fine exceeding $50,000 for NOM’s campaign finance violation. 

In California, NOM attempted to withdraw its list of donors who contributed to the Proposition 8 campaign. The problem is that the list has been public for over five years. The court refused to entertain NOM's challenge to mandatory disclosure by saying that the requirements were necessary to preserve the initiative’s integrity. The court continued by characterizing NOM's case as pointless before ultimately ruling against the group.

This violation is just one of NOM’s many questionable practices. In 2012, many of the organization’s internal memoranda were leaked providing great insight into NOM’s anti-LGBT strategy. Some of the deplorable tactics included driving “a wedge between gays and blacks,” baiting Latino voters to oppose marriage equality as “a symbol to inappropriate assimilation” and associating the Obama administration with programs that “have the effect of sexualizing young children.”

NOM is falling more and more out of touch with the law and reality that LGBT equality is what the country wants. Instead, they continue to flout campaign disclosure laws, acting as though they have no accountability whatsoever to the voters who are affected by their misleading campaigns that do not hold up to legal standards. Maybe the group will eventually realize that its irrational behavior is causing it demise, though we certainly hope not. 

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