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Posts for August, 2010

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.