It's been a busy week over at the National Organization for Marriage's D.C. office, thanks to some developments that are major victories to those of us who value freedom and crushing blows to a pro-discrimination outfit like NOM. To recap:
- U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder expanded the reach of same-sex marriage benefits
- A district judge granted out-of-state marriage recognition to same-sex couples in Kentucky
- Nevada's governor and attorney general announced that they would no longer defend their state's marriage ban in court
- The Indiana legislature killed any chance that Hoosier state voters will see a marriage ban on the 2014 voting ballot. All of these things happened in the span of seven days, and all of them are clear and direct repudiations of NOM's single issue agenda.
- A federal judge ruled that Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional
This all being so, NOM had no choice but to issue angry press releases speaking to each situation. Looking to Nevada, NOM "sharply criticized" the bipartisan move:
With Kentucky, NOM "condemned":
Reacting to the U.S. Attorney General, NOM first responded with the words "egregious" and "dangerous"...
"The American public needs to realize how egregious and how dangerous these usurpations are and how far-reaching the implications can be. — Brian Brown, NOM president — -
...before then going back to the old chestnut, "condemns":
Then there's Indiana, where NOM hasn't yet issued a response to the confirmation that there will be no vote on marriage in '14, yet did respond when the move that led us to that moment was first made. Once again, they "condemned":
And of course we have Virginia, where NOM has already called for the impeachment of the attorney general...
...and where we all await an angry press release about the federal court ruling, which wasn't available at the time of my writing. I expect one, once NOM's press representatives recorver their fingers from all of the press releases they had to write this week
All of which leads me to the question: Where the heck does NOM get off?!
To be be perfectly clear, this is an organization that has been on an epic losing streak ever since mid 2012. While they achieved one big "success" that year when they duped the good people of North Carolina into supporting yet another marriage ban that will someday be found unconstitutional (like all marriage bans), NOM lost everything else that year—and lost big. They tried to sway the presidential election and a good number of congressional races, and they failed at every effort. NOM tried to block or ban marriage in four states at the November '12 ballot, and NOM lost all four. In that historic year where the president announced his own support for marriage equality and was then handily re-elected, NOM began a downward slide that was greater than any of us could have predicted.
The trend continued into 2013. We on the right side of history kept gaining marriage equality states (seventeen, plus D.C., by year's end) while NOM scored zero victories. NOM also tried with all of its power to sway the Supreme Court through a robust public opinion campaign, only to find that high court strike down Proposition 8, the California ban off which NOM made its national name, and to completely gut NOM's cherished Defense of Marriage Act. Even when NOM made small gestures in 2013, like the New Jersey Senate race that they tried to sway, NOM came up short. They could not buy a win in '13—literally.
2014 has been more of the same. Last year's Supreme Court decisions changed the game completely, and we are now seeing public officials from both political parties follow the clear writing on the wall and drop their once firmly held resistance to equality. We now have a U.S. Senate where a bipartisan majority of the members proudly stand with the right side of history, and a U.S. House that cannot get anything resembling traction on any of the attempts to trip up equality that NOM and its allies keep trying to make into a thing. Despite beginning of the year gloating about how 2014 was going to be NOM's time to shine since we marriage equality advocates had already won all of our "easy states," NOM can't even get an amendment through a conservative legislature like the one in Indiana. NOM's complete and utter lack of power is on display in a major way.
Which makes NOM's constant "condemnations" and "sharp criticisms" of these latest developments seem both laughable and desperate. There is literally no special interest group working in American politics that is failing at its lone mission as hard and as roundly as NOM is. There is not one arena where NOM holds onto to any sort of reliable support base, and there certainly isn't any honest prognosticator who would suggest that NOM's fate is on the upswing. Even in the extremely conservative U.S. House, it's the same small handful of very far-right legislators who pop up whenever NOM pushes a piece of legislation. With all polls pointing toward fifty-state marriage equality, and relatively soon, getting in bed with NOM has become a liability.
So again, where the heck does NOM get off pretending it has the intellectual and/or political capital to go after judges, attorneys general, governors, legislatures, or frankly anyone who operates in a way that doesn't comport with the NOM agenda? The NOM agenda is a disaster! An organization has to offer up something resembling merit has to deliver something that looks like achievement if it wants to look strong, and that organization has to prove its heft if it wants to offer criticism. NOM doesn't have any of these cards. This is an organization that is talking a big game even as it loses every single match.
In truth, NOM should probably be out of business. At the very least, its leadership team should probably be replaced. However, NOM has some sort of shady funding mechanism that sees a reason to keep going on at the current pace even as the pace of America changes—and rapidly!—all around them. Fair enough. Far be it from me to advise the American "traditional marriage" movement on which organization to fund as its key lobbying/action group or who put at the front of that enterprise. I have many better things to do.
But NOM should know that their bluster is starting to look ridiculous. It has no efficacy on anyone. It doesn't make us mad, since winning makes us really happy. But more than that, from the opposition's perspective, is the fact that NOM's bark doesn't seem to be bringing even a slight bite to the far-right fight. The are howling at the moon and hoping the noise will distract folks from look at the lay of the land. But as they bear sharper rhetorical fangs, they aren't effecting any kind of change. We all see that the mouth, no matter how loud and open, is really quite toothless.