NOM in Des Moines
August 1st, 2010
The National Organization for Marriage rolled into Des Moines, Iowa, today determined to turn back time. Last year the state Supreme Court unanimously found that denying gay people the right to marry the person they love is contradictory to the protections found in the state constitution. And since April 2009, over 2000 same-sex couples have married in the state.
As of today, the sky hasn’t fallen. But NOM is there anyway to complain that the residents didn’t get to vote on the judicial decision or get to change their constitution by iterating which people are not entitled to equal treatment under the law.
It’s a toasty 87 degrees in Des Moines today and this is a muggy summer. So when it became evident that there were not going to be large crowds showing up, NOM moved it’s little meeting off of the top of the Capitol steps and onto the edge of the entirely-empty plaza so that their ralliers could do so sitting in lawnchairs in the shade of trees.
And, considering the age of their audience, that was probably a good idea. It’s hard to see detail of the folks in the back, but as best I can tell, there were maybe 3 or 4 NOM supporters in Des Moines under the age of 60. And while I have respect for my elders, this is a visual reminder that NOM’s quest is doomed, time is not on their side.
Considering how outraged NOM thinks that Iowans should be over gay marriage, NOM’s turnout continued to be sad. Trial Tracker counted 86 supporters and 43 counter-protesters standing silently on the side with colorful and positive signs. A pro-gay rally is planned at another location in an hour or so.
So this tour stop is yet another snoozer. I’m starting to think that the only tangible outcome from the NOM Tour of Mostly-Empty City Plazas is the opportunity for gay and gay-supportive locals to get a taste of activism and strengthen their sense of community.
UPDATE: NOM has posted a picture which shows their total rally. My count is the same as Trial Tracker’s, 86 listeners.
They also posted a pic of the back of the very few young people present. One in wearing a shirt touting his involvement in Glen Beck’s 912 project.
UPDATE TWO: One Iowa had a counter protest two miles down the road and an hour later where 298 people showed up to support marriage equality. (Tour Tracker)
UPDATE THREE: It looks like NOM has a new slogan (or one I’ve not noticed before). I guess they recognize that there is value in our arguments, ideas, and imagery so they are doing their best to co-opt them.
When we joined with Coretta Scott King and Mildred Loving to speak of our struggle for equality in terms of civil rights, that was a powerful message. Seeing our success, Brian Brown has decided to begin (absurdly) claiming that his effort to deny equality to gay people is the “new civil rights struggle.”
And now seeing that the term “marriage equality” is one that resonates with undecided Americans who strongly value the concept of “equal”, NOM is using the following visual campaign:
To which I say, “Great! Please keep using those signs. Please keep talking about civil rights.”
What NOM does not recognize is that these words and associations only work for our community because they resonate and agree with our message. When we speak of civil rights, we are talking about rights being denied to a class of people. When we talk about equality, we mean treatment that is the same.
So go right ahead, Brian. Remind the public that there is still a struggle in this country for civil equality and freedom. Please bring the words “marriage” and “equal” onto the same page. When I glanced at the image, I thought it was supporting marriage equality, and I’m sure I’m not alone.
The more you talk about civil rights struggles, Brian, and the more you visually tie the ideas of marriage and equality, the stronger your opposition becomes.
Because we know that words and ideas have meaning and we are not using them hollowly.