NOM in Des Moines

Timothy Kincaid

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.

Bob Barnes

August 1st, 2010

From NOM’s

Speaking on a bright, sunny afternoon in Des Moines, Danny Carroll, Chairman of the Iowa Family Policy Center Action, reminded the crowd how the state supreme court had forced same-sex marriage on the people of Iowa, despite widespread objection

Danny Carroll just describe Loving v. VA. Ironic?

Cole Fuller

August 1st, 2010

Way to go Iowa! I was at the One Iowa rally today in support of marriage equality. My fiance and I were there to support our right to get married in this great state. Iowa’s first lady, the speaker of the house, and other important leaders here in Iowa were present and spoke on maintaining equality here. There are some critical elections coming up and it’s important for all Iowa citizens who support equality to engage members of their communities and speak of the importance of electing equality minded candidates. Thanks One Iowa for a great rally!


August 1st, 2010

Did somebody put up an AARP sign to direct seniors into the park? I see a couple of them brought their grandchildren, too!


August 1st, 2010

LMAO WHAT are there like 25 people there?! LOL

Richard Rush

August 1st, 2010

. . . Brian Brown has decided to begin (absurdly) claiming that his effort to deny equality to gay people is the “new civil rights struggle.”

I commonly apply the term “Magic Truth” to many assertions from the reality-challenged crowd, but even the legendary Houdini could not have turned that notion into truth.

Richard Rush

August 1st, 2010

Oh, and speaking of magic, I’m sure Raman Srivastav is still invisible, but does anyone know if his wife was at the rally in Des Moines today?

Timothy Kincaid

August 1st, 2010

Mrs. Srivastav (Maggie Gallagher) has finished her portion of the tour.


August 1st, 2010

These ‘rallies’ seem to have about the same appeal as the recent teabagger rallies. The same people seem to show up.


August 1st, 2010

All the same, bear in mind you are actually up against CRC Public Relations (, with an enviable client list) who are managing the whole affair behind the scenes, and pumping out press releases about how the NOM supporters are under siege from equality supporters. They have turned the sign with the two hanging nooses into a smear campaign.

Timothy Kincaid

August 1st, 2010


NOM is FAR less popular than the Tea Party. Their Des Moines rally in April drew between 1,500 and 2,000. NOM doesn’t have a tenth of their appeal.

Respect your welders

August 1st, 2010

Yeah, I know, he’s very foolish to ever use the phrase “civil rights” — to have that term and concept in the air in the discussions here. Joe and Mary Public are always going to associate that phrase, and rightly so, overwhelmingly with our side. Gay people — who have an undeniable history of oppression (Anita Bryant, Cracker Barrel, Matthew Shepard, Lawrence King, Colorado Amendment 2, Oregon Measure 9, Briggs Initiative, former massive ostracism, etc. etc.) — being prevented from marrying their partners has way more of a traditional civil rights feel than does people who oppose the expansion of marriage to homosexual couples not being able to assert that position through a vote. You have to take several leaps and twists to get to the latter as a “civil right struggle.”

Part of me can understand their frustration. Right now, it *might* be possible that if expansion of marriage to same-sex couples were put to a vote in Iowa, it would fail. (Still better odds would occur in states with the lowest education and literacy levels. Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas come to mind.) Right now. In a few years (or even months) that’s not going to be the case. And what will NOM say then?

But a larger part of me feels like Wanda Sykes when she said: If you don’t believe in same-sex marriage, then don’t get married to someone of the same sex.

Otherwise, you know, a not visibly disabled, white, male, probably Christian, probably heterosexual Brian Brown doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of civil rights cred.

So in all, his couching NOM as a “civil rights struggle” is pretty darn silly.

There’s a kind of Darwin Awards quality to all this. They have a morally untenable position, and consequently all their attempts to be assertive, or make use of rational argument, are going to do them in. While if they go an emotional route (e.g., the Peter LaBarbera gay-people-are-filthy school), well, they are going to have about same level of repulsive force and non-credibility of Peter LaBarbera and Brian Camenker (both of whom were unwelcome in Maine).

They’re screwed. I mean, they really are. If they say or do nothing, the cultural shifts will continue. If they put on tours, they energize and galvanize opposition that exceeds their force numerically and in spirit — adding a bump of acceleration to the aforementioned cultural shifts. They just have no good options.

David C.

August 1st, 2010

All the same, bear in mind you are actually up against CRC Public Relations….—AdrianT

And said agency is trying to teach a pig—or at least represent a pig with an essentially repugnant message—to sing. The exposure will most likely in the final analysis have the opposite effect NOM would like.

I’ve given up on the culture warriors that are on NOM’s side—their minds are made up. The rest of the body politick is movable and less likely to be influenced by NOM’s scare or smear tactics. An influential agency can get NOM access to and placement with media along with a polished presentation. We’re just as good at it and in fact likely better diversified in our approach to messaging and reach.

Time runs short for NOM which is why these last ditch efforts are being undertaken in the hopes of regaining some kind of momentum. This tour thing has essentially been a failure, and no amount of spinning will change that fact. Once their ability to effectively influence opinion is proven to be miniscule, they will simply cease to exist. That day cannot come soon enough.


August 2nd, 2010

The anti-marriage activists have been trial ballooning ‘civil rights’ for a couple of months.

This involves a bizarre misinterpretation of the First Amendment which essentially gives the individual religious person immunity from complying with and respect for any and all ‘anti-religious’ laws. (I.e. gay marriage.) It’s a very weird concept in which every religion-claiming individual basically gets the First Amendment rights of an established religious organizations. It’s frankly an assertion of individual privilege based on religion. They want to take that an extend it to a protective shield for all the organizations and activities they like against e.g. marriage legalization, atheist speech, and the like.

Terence Weldon

August 3rd, 2010

It’s worth reflecting on the record of opposition in Iowa since the court judgement was handed down. Immediately afterwards, opinion polls showed clearly that most Iowans were opposed – and immediately there were loud calls to start the process towards changing the state constitution.

Some months later, an important poll showed that Iowans remained opposed – but did not want the constitution tinkered with. The most recent poll showed that most Iowans now support marriage equality.

In two election cycles – one special election last year, and in this year’s GOP primaries for the state legislature, NOM poured money into campaigns for candidates promising to initiate a ballot to overturn marriage equality – and reports were that their candidates lost big time.

In Iowa, NOM has lost already, and marriage is safe.

More generally, this example shows that even in the rural mid-west, once people have lived with marriage equality for a while, they get used to it and get on with their lives – just as they did earlier with interracial marriage.

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