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NOM in Charleston

Timothy Kincaid

August 11th, 2010

The National Organization for Marriage rolled its Tour of Mostly-Empty City Plazas into Charleston, West Virginia’s capital. Are you bored reading this yet? If not, you’re the only one who isn’t finding NOM’s little tour to be – shall we say – anti-climactic and less than stimulating.

The Tour Tracker said “Just eighteen NOM supporters stood to the side of the Capitol steps in the shade until Maggie Gallagher and the NOM staffers decided to bring the rally to them.” But I count about 26 folks in the picture above so either it was a miscount or the rest are NOM staff.

Yes, Maggie Gallagher was back for this stop. And she had this message for Charleston:

“Same-sex marriage is not a civil right – it is a civil wrong. . . . Thank you for joining the new generation of Americans standing up for marriage.”

I’m not sure which generation she’s sees standing for marriage, but the ones sitting on the grass seem to mostly belong to a generation that can’t exactly be called “new” or hold much promise for NOM’s future. Gallagher also seemed to be stretching a bit in her desire to inspire her supporters. Since “we won in California” doesn’t have the ring it had earlier in the tour, she’s selected example B.

“It’s a very bad idea to be a Republican for gay marriage,” continued Gallagher after pointing out that Carly Fiorina beat Tom Campbell, a pro-marriage Republican candidate for Senate in California.

There was no report as to whether the supporters leaped to their feet and started an impromptu Conga-line at that news. But I do think it suggests that NOM is seeing that even their Republican base is slipping away from them.

There were no priests or preachers scheduled for this stop, and the politician that was listed may not have shown up – neither NOM nor Tour Tracker mention him.

Counter-protesters didn’t bother showing up in Charleston (depriving NOM’s speakers of their favorite subject matter), opting instead to throw a pro-marriage rally a few blocks away. Attendance was estimated by one attendee to be “I’d say there were between 40 and 50 at the Fairness WV rally, but I’m not that good at estimating.”

The Senate Judiciary Chairman, Jeff Kessler, who has been blocking an effort to get an anti-gay constitutional amendment on the ballot, showed up at the counter-protest to offer his continued support. A couple of Unitarian ministers were there as well.

Thankfully, this Tour of Mostly-Empty City Plazas only has one stop on Friday in Harrisburg, PA, (with only Brian Brown and the local “family” group speaking) before their big finale in Washington, DC on Sunday. The Washington stop will partly define them. If they can’t draw a sizable crowd there, then they will be significantly embarrassed.

This tour has, in my opinion, diminished NOM’s reputation and standing in the political world. Unable to draw even a single large attendance has left them looking “all hat and no cattle”, as they say in Texas. Politicians notice this kind of thing and any threat that NOM could have leveraged has been dissipated by their inability to prove power.

In some ways, NOM’s tour may prove to be a valuable asset to our community.



Jim Burroway
August 11th, 2010 | LINK

Yep. I’m bored. And if NOM can’t stir up any excitement in West Virginia, that’s really saying something.

August 11th, 2010 | LINK

I just signed up for the Facebook event on Sunday to counter NOM. The event was just announced a couple of days ago and there are already nearly 400 people signed up to counter-protest. Hope that it’s a good turnout for equality.

August 11th, 2010 | LINK

Just one more note on DC – they have announced the NOM speakers. In addition to Brian and Maggie, they have Walter Fauntroy, a Civil Rights legend and first Delegate to Congress from DC who has forever tarnished his image with his anti-gay activism. The only other DC politician listed as speaker is a “Commissioner.” By that they mean an ANC member – DC has Advisory Neighborhood Commissions throughout the city. Given that the entire City Council, except for Marion Barry of course, supported marriage equality, I am not surprised that NOM couldn’t attract other politicians. What is surprising is that Harry Jackson, the Maryland minister who has led the attack on DC’s equal marriage law, is not listed. Things that make you go hmmm.

August 11th, 2010 | LINK

It is important to recognize that the National Organization for Marriage has an extremely small staff, but a very large budget. They have no skills in bringing people out to rallies; their main skill is fund raising, and supplying this money to anti-equality causes. They should not be underestimated.

Carrie Stone
August 11th, 2010 | LINK

“Attendance was estimated by one attendee to be ‘I’d say there were between 40 and 50 at the Fairness WV rally, but I’m not that good at estimating.’”

Actually, I was there and counted heads myself — AFTER I was done speaking and AFTER folks started leaving — I counted 77 people.

I believe there were at least 100 for the speakers.

It was awesome and uplifting!

Elisia Ross
August 11th, 2010 | LINK

I was there. I just read on prop8trialtracker that there was a hand-count of 146 equality supporters

Jim Burroway
August 11th, 2010 | LINK

Last time I was in Charleston (about 5 years ago), I noticed that they had a very lovely and reasonably lively downtown area. Unlike most major American cities, it isn’t exactly deserted. And West Virginia, as we all know, is a pretty religious, socially-conservative place. For NOM to have such a low turnout shows how truly ineffective they can be as an organization. I suspect their reputation for the wins in Maine and California are way, way overblown and undeserved.

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