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Posts for August, 2010

NOM’s Tour of Mostly-Empty City Plaza rolls to a stop

Timothy Kincaid

August 15th, 2010

Today the National Organization for Marriage held the final rally of their Summer for Marriage Tour, a 19 state, 23 city tour to rally opposition to marriage equality that can best be summed up as disastrous. Only a few cities drew crowds over 100, and in several stops less than two dozen locals turned up to support NOM’s efforts.

But for their big finale, NOM chose Washington D.C., a locality that only this year enacted marriage equality. In a divergence from the usual, all of the speakers at today’s rally – other than Brian Brown – were African-Americans. And as one speaker, Bishop Neaville Coles of the local Church of God in Christ, brought his congregation, the audience had a sizable African-American presence as well. Although polls and public presumption assume that blacks and Hispanics are strongly opposed to same-sex marriage, until today NOM’s rallies have been mostly absent of anyone other than mostly-elderly Caucasians.

NOM also drew a larger crowd than usual for their final stop. Although neither NOM nor the Trial Tracker provide a complete estimate, there were at least 60 and maybe up to 100 supporters [ed: reader Karen says more, maybe 200]. About 50 protesters stayed across the street while another 250 met at a pro-marriage equality rally a few blocks away.

From all accounts NOM’s rally did not present any original thought. Mostly cliches and astonishingly lacking in historical perspective – though there did seem to be a fair amount of unintended irony.

The old standby of “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” drew applause. (Some day I’m going to show up with a sign that says “Adam and Yves”).

Bishop Coles thundered, “What God has joined let no man put asunder!” Ummm, Bishop? You may want to think through the logical conclusion of that one before you try to reverse the marriages of the United Church of Christ.

Dr. Fauntroy seemed both defeatist and delusional. I’m not sure why the fellow thinks it may cost him his friends and his life, but like a true NOMartyr, he lamented:

I am determined to go all the way through. If it costs my life, I am determined, because I’ve got heaven in my view. If it means I have got to stand alone, if it means my friends be few, I am not worried about what people say. I’ve got heaven on my mind.

But, then again, he also said that our founding fathers promised healthcare so I’ll just give the elder statesman the privilege of age and its encumbrances.

But no one seemed to be less aware of his own words than Bishop Harry Jackson who spent his time railing against minority rights.

What is happening is a minority — just like we’re hearing now — is attempting to impose its will on the majority… I believe where we are today is the same situation [as the African-American civil rights struggle]. A minority is imposing its will.

Now I’ve heard language like that before, and it too was in context of racial tensions. But those screaming about “minorities imposing their will” were not on the side of civil rights or equality. But come to think of it, neither is Bishop Jackson.

Mind-NOMingly boring rally in Harrisburg

Timothy Kincaid

August 13th, 2010

The National Organization for Marriage must be dispirited by the recent rulings for marriage equality. But they can take hope from their latest stop on their Tour of Mostly-Empty City Plazas. Because in Harrisburg, PA, they got more than a couple dozen supporter and – for the first time in a long time – outnumbered the counter-protesters. The Tour Tracker is reporting that NOM’s supporters numbered about 75 as compared the 53 protesters.

But those were probably the only rays of light in an otherwise dull and gloomy day.

The Trial Tracker reports today’s rally to be particularly dull and uninspiring. That may well be due to the growing realization on the part of NOM’s leaders that they are ineffectual and, at this point, just going through the motions.

And so far NOM’s Summer for Marriage blog is choosing to pretend as though there was no rally today. Instead, Brian Brown is ranting about Judge Walker’s decision to deny a stay on his motion.

When a lower judge makes an unprecedented ruling, that totally overturns existing Supreme Court precedent, the normal thing for that judge to do is to stay his decision, and let the higher courts decide in an orderly fashion that respects the rule of law, if he’s right, or if he’s way off-base. Judge Walker’s ruling is more evidence he is not a neutral referee, he’s an activist on this issue. He doesn’t even want his ruling ignoring Supreme Court precedent and imposing gay marriage against the expressed wishes of the electorate appealed to the Ninth Circuit…

The Proponents, in their appeal to the denial of stay, also make a great deal about this “existing Supreme Court precedent.” You’ll notice that Brian Brown is not providing much information about this precedent, other than to demand that it trumps Perry v. Schwarzenegger. And that’s probably because it is a case from 1971.

In May 1970 Jack Baker and James McConnell applied for a marriage license in Hennepin County, Minnesota. They were denied. They sued and lost at district court and in appeal at the Minnesota Supreme Court. They appealed to the US Supreme Court but the SCOTUS did not hear their appeal for “want of a substantial federal question.”

Normally, a refusal to hear a case is not considered precedent on the merits of the case. However, anti-marriage activists argue because that this case came to the Court through mandatory appellate review, then therefore it is by default a judgment on the merits of the case and establishes precedent which all lower courts must follow for perpetuity.

The Proponents also discuss Adams v. Howerton, a 1982 immigration case in which the Ninth Circuit ruled that Adams and his same-sex non-legal husband were not married and that the Federal Government has a rational basis for refusing to recognize this marriage.

But while relying on those cases may have been valid in, oh say 1984, it hardly lends itself to ranting indignation in this case.

Since that time, Romer v. Evans has determined that an initiative cannot be designed solely to disadvantage a class of people and Lawrence v. Texas determined that a state cannot legislate based solely on moral disapproval of a class of people. It was not necessary that these two cases deal with gay issues for them to apply to Perry v. Schwarzenegger, but it does make them impossible to ignore.

Another case that Brown likes to reference – but which is ignored by the Proponents – Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning. This was a 2006 ACLU challenge to Nebraska’s DOMA constitutional amendment. A lower court found it to be an unconstitutional violation of the Equal Protection Clause, but the Eighth Circuit reinstated the ban. I am not certain why both Judge Walker and the Proponents have not referenced this case.

Maggie finds Judge Walker’s orientation relevant, not necessarily relevant, could be relevant, not totally irrelevant

Timothy Kincaid

August 11th, 2010

When Maggie Gallagher is around her buddies it’s easy to just say that Judge Walker is gay and everyone knows what that means. When you all share the same opinion that gay people and gay relationships are inferior and when you all think of gay people as “the other side” then you don’t need to explain yourself.

Oh, but listen to her try to explain that comment to Tour Tracker’s Arisha Hatch

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She also seems to have read a ruling other than the one released by Judge Walker. Nothing new, nothing non-Maggie.

But then she said: “The way to get a totally neutral status is to just get the government out of the marriage business” before immediately reverting to her talking points.

What’s this? Is this Maggie’s next approach? “If we have to be equal then no one should get married!!”

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.

NOM in Raleigh

Timothy Kincaid

August 10th, 2010

The National Organization for Marriage rolled their Tour of Mostly-Empty City Plazas in to Raleigh, North Carolina, today and absolutely nothing noteworthy happened. They had about 61 supporters in their mostly-empty plaza and there were significantly more counter-protesters across the street including clergy and members from the local United Church of Christ.

NOM in Georgia and Florida

Timothy Kincaid

August 8th, 2010

The time has come that we must now stand for marriage. I know how busy you are, with family, church, work and other commitments. Maybe you have never stood at a public rally or protest before. But if we don’t stand for marriage now, it could soon be too late.

With these stirring words, the National Organization for Marriage called for those who “support traditional marriage” to act now, join them on Saturday in Atlanta to show strength and unity in advancing their cause. And as an extra incentive, in Atlanta they had as a headliner Alveda King, MLK’s niece.

And drew their smallest crowd to date. (Tour Tracker)

We see that Dr. Alveda King has made it. She’s joined by only about 16 NOM supporters (Louis would call it 20 but we’re not counting you, Brian, Justin, Mike, the videographer, or the speakers).

Although their turnout was tiny, at least there was some racial diversity in Atlanta. In addition to King, two gospel singers entertained the few supporters (and the protesters, who enjoyed a song about unity) and there appear to have been a few African-Americans among the supporters.

Speaking of the protesters,

While today’s event may go differently, the outpouring of support from the pro-equality community is no different. We’re standing in a crowd of 254 equality supporters standing alongside a church across the street from the State Capitol.

The protesters rallied earlier at park before marching down to hold their silent protest of NOM’s event. Their crowds keep getting smaller and the protests larger, but I think that perhaps 16 supporter to 254 protesters might be the all-time worst ratio for any marriage-related event. So, if nothing else, I guess NOM can be proud that they’re setting records. Maybe that’s what NOM meant by “We just wrapped up a terrific rally with Dr. Alveda King in Atlanta.”

So then they were on to Orlado, Florida, were NOM did the smart thing and took their rally inside. This makes sense as their rallies are pretty much just religious speech anyway and their supporters often tend to be folks that are not accustomed to standing for an hour in the sun. Of course the trade-off is that church services don’t make very effective media images.

But air conditioning and a church pew were undoubtedly welcome for the 34 people who came to hear NOM. Amusingly but without even noting the irony, Brian Brown exhorted his audience – resting in the church – to stand for truth in the public square: “Each and every one of us has the responsibility to stand up for the good. This is our time to stand!”

NOM has been counting on the overturning of Prop 8 to provide a jump-boost to interest in their cause. Unable to get, well, hardly anyone to show up and support them, NOM was sure that churches and politicians would flock out now that Judge Walker had shown that there was a Real Threat to marriage. (Sunshine State News)

Well, this is Florida, it isn’t California. We have some powerful people in this state who respect our state Constitution and the laws in it,” [NOM spokesperson Ellen] Johnson said.

Some of those “powerful people” are running for office. And if ever the National Organization for Marriage wanted to get them on the record in support of their conservative position – and believed they had a chance to do it – it’s now, one day from the start of early voting in Florida

“This being a big year for conservative values, I think the candidates will back us up,” Johnson said.

If by “back us up,” Johnson meant “stay away and pretend they’ve never heard of you” then she’d be correct. It turns out that Florida’s politicians all had better things to do than have their picture taken in the same room as Brian Brown.

Meanwhile, outside, there was the now-common protest crowd.

134 equality activists are lining the sidewalk outside of the church, including the angels from Stand Up Florida and members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

I’m sure that NOM’s Louis Marinelli is delighted that the Sisters showed up; the Sisters are the anti-gays’ very favorite gay activist group. Yes, you and I know that they are street theater and that they actually raise a lot of money each year for charitable causes, but they also make very good propaganda material for those who want to claim that we all just want to mock them, their faith, and their God.

But at least there was no confrontation for NOM to videotape and the “gays hate God” message was diluted by the protesters joining in prayer.

UPDATE:

Project Q has a great write-up of the Atlanta rally.

UPDATE TWO:

As expected, NOM’s bus driver, Louis Marinelli, entirely ignored his own little rally (and I do mean little rally), choosing to obsess instead about the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and the Angels. Oddly, Louis didn’t have a clue who these people were or why they were there. He somehow thought it was something about Halloween.

He didn’t recognize the habits (he thought they were wedding veils) and he thought it was the Angels that were a mockery. Lordy. I’m beginning to get the impression that Louis is perhaps uniquely situated for a career in driving buses.

NOM does not fare well on St. Louis news

Timothy Kincaid

August 6th, 2010

The local Fox affiliate sent a camera crew to the National Organization for Marriage’s rally and the counter-rally in Clayton (St. Louis), Missouri. It was about as bad for NOM as it could be.

The handful of folks sprinkled across the mostly-empty city plaza at NOM’s rally (I counted 50) looked tiny and sparse. But when the camera panned to show the counter protest, it lined the street for as far as the eye could see.

And while Brian Brown blustered about “marriage laws being at stake,” a minister with the Disciples of Christ Church – in clerical collar – talked about inclusion rather than exclusion.

NOM bunkers down in a mostly-empty park in St. Louis

Timothy Kincaid

August 5th, 2010

Fresh off their bizarro rants over the overturn of Proposition 8 in California, the National Organization for Marriage rolled into St. Louis, Missouri. And irate marriage-protectors up in arms over the activist judge arrogantly thumbing his nose at the voters turned out in droves.

Not really. The Trial Tracker reports:

We count 35 NOM rally attendees from afar, and we’re now up to 214 equality supporters.

Now we can’t be certain that there were only 35 people there. No equality supporters were allowed anywhere near the park, even those who had pre-registered and brought their invite with them. So since the count was from a distance maybe there were 40 attendees,or even 50, once you count the staff. But it’s a sad sad day for NOM if the ruling couldn’t even draw a crowd.

As I mentioned, NOM took a new approach this time; they kept protesters – and even the gay press – at a distance. So the protesters were pretty much left with waving at the cars and cheering when supporters honked. And as NOM is not yet posting pictures or comments on the event, we’ll just have to imagine what was said at the rally:

Brian Brown, speaking for the entire anti-gay marriage movement officially gave up and decided to endorse equality and decency. He said that we must treat others the way we want to be treated and encouraged the listeners to call their legislators and ask them to support marriage equality.

Nah, that probably wasn’t it. I’m guessing it was more along the lines of “blah blah activist judge blah blah one man and one woman blah blah they’re picking on us.” In any case, I’m certain that the pro-equality side was having a much better night than NOM.

UPDATE:

Even NOM is getting bored with their rallies. While they posted two pictures of the St. Louis Arch, they decided that their abysmally dismal St. Louis rally was worthy of only one picture and a single sentence.

They like to talk about the people out there who are “following our rally online” but I suspect that those followers are mostly mythical.

They’ve breathlessly announced the following for Saturday’s rally:

I hope you’ve made plans to join us at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta tomorrow. We’ve just confirmed that Dr. Alveda King, Director of African American Outreach of Priests for Life, and the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., will be able to attend and speak at the rally!

I wonder if their Atlanta rally will continue to be lilywhite inside the rally and racially diverse out where the protesters are?

NOM’s Marinelli loses it over attendee counts

Timothy Kincaid

August 3rd, 2010

Louis Marinelli, the bus driver for the National Organization for Marriage’s Tour of Mostly-Empty City Plazas (and Church Parking Lots) is breaking under the stress, falling apart, going bonko. And though it’s shameful to admit, I find it fascinating to watch.

Well, that and the fact that the rest of their tour is so mind-numbingly boring that he’s the only thing interesting to watch, kind of like a demented clown at a particularly bad circus.

So, anyway, I’ve been giving Marinelli a little grief over at his website about the count he reports for attendees. For some reason he thinks it’s not quite as embarrassing if he doubles or triples the tiny turnout – like 40 is bad but “over 100″ is something to be proud of.

And it’s so obvious. Not only does the Trial Tracker crew do hand counts and take pictures, but even NOM will post pictures that make it clear that at stop after stop they are only talking to a handful of people in a big open space. Clearly they were hoping that fired up marriage supporters would be greeting them at each city showing that American wants to defend marriage from the homos. It’s sad.

Yet Louis tries – desperately – to put a spin on it. Stop after stop he’s put on a brave face and tried to make it look like NOM’s little tour is a glorious success. But this time he’s finally lost it.

At Des Moine there were a whopping 86 people who showed up. All in all, that’s not bad for this tour which has seen “crowds” as small as 19. But it wasn’t good enough for Louis Marinelli. Oh no, he announced:

As you can see, our 150+ supporters gathered in the shade to escape the hot glaring sunshine.

Our stalkers over at the NOM Tour Tracker love to downplay the turnout we have at our rallies. The last thing they want is for the public to see a strong turnout of Americans who support marriage between a man and a woman only.

That is why they have been constantly claiming that our turnouts have been very low. Now this picture shows about fifty people but it is taken from within the crowd. A conservative estimate would be 150 yet the stalkers from Califrornia claim we had less than 90. They do this so that they can (and they have) claim that the counter-protesters who show up to interfere with the rally “outnumber” our supporters.

Oh, but there was just on teensy little problem. You see, NOM itself had posted a front facing elevated angle picture of their crowd in a way that caught all of them. No stragglers, no “just outside the frame”, no “lots more to the left”, no “but half the crowd is behind the ones you see”; nope, every single soul listening to their speakers drone on in Des Moines was caught in glorious color. And NOM, bless their hearts, posted this picture with digital clarity that lets you blow it up big. Real big. Big enough to count every last one of the 86 people at the rally.

Now a better person than me would have been gracious. A more polite, loving observer might have suggested that perhaps it was early, maybe some were laying down behind the others, maybe there were folks way the heck back on the other side of the plaza listening. But sadly, I’m just not that noble.

So I kinda teased Louis just a bit. I maybe, just for a moment (or two) suggested that everyone reading his blogsite count for themselves and hinted a itty bitty bit that Louis was maybe stretching things just ever so slightly. Okay, maybe it wasn’t teasing a little bit; maybe it was full on taunting.

My bad.

But who knew that it would cause Louis to come completely unhinged? Who knew that this would be the result:

Our rally today in Sioux City attracted about 80 people. Our opponents claim that only 56 showed up but that of course, is because they need to make it sound like there were more people at their same-sex ‘marriage’ rally they held than who showed up to support authentic marriage between a man and a woman.

They can take a picture from forty feet away and count the heads they see. Sure from that point of view and in a two-dimensional photo, there very well may be only 56 heads visible. But said photo lacks important aspects such as depth which is why their head count of 56 is about 25 heads short.

There’s no way one photo from one vantage point is going to show each person standing in a group! It’s a very simple concept yet our opponents have made this mistake time and time again – but the point is that it actually isn’t a mistake.

They are doing this on purpose because if NOM appears to have high turnouts or at the very least turnouts that are greater than their counter protests, then they lose.

This is why time and time again we see their estimates of our turnouts to be lower than media reports and more importantly, lower than their counter-protest turnout. The first thing they posted today was about turnout focusing on 56 NOM supporters and a convienently slightly higher 64 same-sex marriage supporters.

Oh, Louis honey, we don’t care if there were 56 or 80 or 110. It’s all still so very very laughably pathetic. After months of planning and effort and with hundreds of churches in town to draw from, you’re getting next to no one. And your wild exaggerations are only making you sound sad and desperate.

But those five furious paragraphs weren’t enough. No, Louis had to prove his point (not really something I really recommend for someone with Louis’ grasp on reality). He posted a picture of part of today’s rally (about 28 people total) and a picture of two women picking up materials at NOM’s table and issued a challenge.

Challenge: Find these two women signing up to join the NOM team in the picture of the rally above.

Because if we couldn’t find these two in his cropped picture well, that proved something. Or other. But it gets worse.

You already know where this is going, don’t you?

Yeah.

Me: The blond woman in green is next to the guy in the baseball cap to the right.

Yeah, somehow I think this trip just hasn’t been as fun as Louis thought it would be. And I do feel kinda dirty for being so unkind.

NOM in Sioux City, nothing new

Timothy Kincaid

August 3rd, 2010

The National Organization for Marriage rolled into Sioux City, Iowa, for the latest stop on their Tour of Mostly-Empty City Plazas (and Church Parking Lots) to repeat the same stuff they’ve been saying all along.

And about 54 people showed up at the Morningside Assembly of God church parking lot to hear it. Six equality supporters quietly held signs. Earlier, across town 64 marriage supporters met to pledge their continued efforts to keeping marriage legal in Iowa, a follow up to a multi-denominational rally at a church on Sunday. But about 156,500 people in Sioux City had better things to do this week than weigh in on marriage.

The newspaper will likely report on NOM’s rally and the counter-rally. But they won’t really have much to say – maybe a few paragraphs or so. And the NOM ralliers will head home to watch some quality afternoon television, having fulfilled their duty. The marriage supporters will exchange emails and make promises to be more active in the fight; maybe even a follow-up event will be discussed.

Later today, the NOM bus driver will claim that more than 150 people were there, as though that is a number that is any less embarrassing than the real number of attendees. And, not having had any “rude interlopers” to complain about, Brian Brown will within the next day or two issue another email again talking about how “intolerant” some counter-protesters were a few weeks ago in Providence and how gay marriage supporter “want to silence” him (send money).

And thus yet another day has passed in the life of NOM’s miserably boring Tour of Mostly-Empty City Plazas.

(I’m not posting pictures; they look exactly like the pictures in all the other mostly-empty parking lots – a handful of expressionless people, slightly hunched, gazing in the general direction of a podium.)

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.

NOM takes Saturday off

Timothy Kincaid

July 31st, 2010

The National Organization for Marriage has explained the tiny crowds showing up for their Tour of Mostly-Empty City Plazas as being because their supporters have real jobs. Well, it’s Saturday and many people are off work for the weekend.

So it does make it a bit peculiar that NOM decided not to hold a rally today.

NOM in Rochester: “we’ll be treated as bigots”

Timothy Kincaid

July 30th, 2010

The National Organization for Marriage’s Summer for Marriage Tour rolled into a church parking lot set in a big green pasture (perhaps it needed fertilizer) in Rochester, MN. And the attendance was small (Tour Tracker):

18 NOM attendees
9 NOM staffers/volunteers
2 priests
7 protesters

As absolutely nothing new or even remotely interesting resulted from NOM’s increasingly boring tour, I want to touch on something that Brian Brown said there that he and Maggie Gallagher have been saying a lot lately:

“If we do not stand up for marriage we will be treated under the law as bigots.”

Objecting to being called a bigot has featured large in their talking points as of late. But they aren’t really worried about what anyone calls them; it’s a larger issue than that.

Brian and Maggie fear that the world is changing. They fear that it may soon become normal to treat gay people with acceptance, respect and equality. They fear what anti-gay extremists refer to as the “normalization of homosexuality.”

And they have reason to fear.

Consider, if you will, the man or woman who in 1963 firmly believed that it was right to segregate by race. At the time, their views were not outside the range of normal; they were not considered to be peculiar or automatically assumed to be grounded in hatred. When George Wallace stood in the schoolroom door, he was a reflection of his time and culture and held a view that was supported by the majority of his constituents. He was certain that God was on his side.

But time has not been kind to the image of George Wallace and his supporters. At this point we look back and marvel at the fear and animus that was so embedded into a culture that kind and decent people accepted these attitudes and presumptions as normal and good and ordered by God. “It was bald-faced bigotry,” we say, and have little patience or forgiveness for that part of our history.

And Brian and Maggie fear that this is likely to be their fate.

And so it is with determination that they fight forward, hoping to turn back a culture that has already passed the tipping point. Like George Wallace, they declare that the public is behind them and toss the gauntlet declaring heterosexual privilege now, heterosexual privilege tomorrow, heterosexual privilege forever.

And with increasing shrillness they desperately look for a way to come out on the winning side of history. They hope that by claiming the rhetoric of civil rights they can achieve the success of that movement. In desperation they turn to the prayers of priests begging for divine intervention.

But I think that they know by now that there is no turning back. Marriage’s George Wallace moment was in 2004 when George W. Bush made same-sex marriage a campaign issue. That was the peak of opposition and its been on a steady decline since. Equality is coming and the signs are everywhere.

More and more the Democratic leaders are speaking in terms of equality, and more and more Republicans are unwilling to be seen as equality’s enemy. When Laura Bush said that she “disagreed” with the FMA, it disheartened them. When Cindy McCain endorsed marriage equality the end seemed so much closer. Furiously they lashed out at Tom Campbell for daring to endorse marriage.

Loudly they gloat about the California vote, knowing that polls reveal that it soon will be reversed. They bluff and demand the right to vote in Washington, DC, even while knowing that there’s a good chance they would lose that vote. As they look out at the few dozen people who park their lawnchair at their rallies, they cannot help but know what we already know.

Equality is coming. Time is on our side.

The future world will likely look back and wonder how the majority of Americans let a handful of religious zealots dictate discrimination. They’ll marvel at the fear and animus that is so embedded into our culture that kind and decent people accept these attitudes and presumptions as normal and good and ordered by God. “It was bald-faced bigotry,” they will say, and will have little patience or forgiveness for this part of our history.

And so Brian and Maggie fight on. Because they know that “we’ll be treated as bigots.”

Guess who is NOT showing up at NOM’s rallies

Timothy Kincaid

July 29th, 2010

Today in St. Cloud, Minnesota, the National Organization for Marriage’s President Brian Brown told his ralliers, “This is a civil rights question. It’s about our civil rights.”

Brown speaks this line at every single tour stop on NOM’s Tour of Mostly-Empty City Plazas. Usually he invokes Dr. Martin Luther King.

In Annapolis, Bishop Harry Jackson, senior pastor at Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland, told the crowd that “The major civil right, for those of us who went through the civil rights movement, is the right to vote . . . .”

Here he is:

And here is his audience:

Yesterday in St. Paul, Bishop Robert Battle, Senior Pastor of the Berean Church of God in Christ (a predominantly African-American church), told his listeners that “The African American church is firm on the biblical truth that marriage is one man and one woman.”

Here’s Bishop Battle:

And here’s another view of his audience:

Today Battle was scheduled to come to St. Cloud to be the black speaker. I’m not sure if he made it – the speakers’ chairs seem to be mostly empty and NOM’s blog makes no mention – but if so, he spoke to this crowd about the commitment of African Americans to the cause:

Now perhaps it’s just me, but it just seems that on average, NOM’s ralliers have had a distinct pale hue. Even in places with significant African-American populations.

NOM’s rally in wackadoodle St. Cloud church proves uneventful

Timothy Kincaid

July 29th, 2010

Today the National Organization for Marriage held a rally at Granite City Baptist Church in St. Cloud. This is the same church which paid for an ad in a local paper claiming that The Moslems were a threat to America and were trying to “take control” by “supporting the gay agenda.”

According to the Trial Tracker (thanks guys for being the most reliable source of info about NOM’s Tour of Mostly-Empty City Plazas (and church lawns)):

Today, 73 NOM supporters gathered on a lawn in front of Granite City Church.

There is no report as to whether The Moslems tried to infiltrate the rally, but one NOM supporter made an unintentional statement when they brought their rainbow umbrella.

A handful of protesters stayed on the sidewalk about 250 feet away to maintain a presence, but the main equality event was across town in a park by the university where 89 folks showed up to support marriage for all.

Phyllis told me a community organizer, Justin Michael, spoke to the crowd largely composed of students from St. Cloud State University, the second largest in the state (the rally is being held in Barden Park, next to the University). There’s a lesson here: St. Cloud is part of Rep. Michele Bachmann’s district, a virulent opponent of equality (and many other progressive issues). But this goes to show again that even in the reddest bastions of homophobia, we can find the future in younger supporters of equality like the students from St. Cloud State. We cannot write off areas of the country that may seem more conservative by their representation or character.

The “reddest bastions” comment refers to the fact that St. Cloud is represented by Michele Bachmann, a congresswoman obsessed with opposing civil equality for gay people (on religious grounds). Here are just a couple of her doozies:

If you’re involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it’s bondage. It is personal bondage, personal despair and personal enslavement.

and

It’s part of Satan I think to say that this is “gay.” It’s anything but gay.

The speakers today seemed to be the same formula: Brian Brown, Catholic Priest, local “family” activist, Baptist Pastor, black person. However Michele Bachmann was not among the speakers on the church lawn. I’m not sure about Satan.

UPDATE: NOM’s Louis Marinelli has blogged about the St. Cloud event. The man is truly delusional.

Like I mentioned, we had at least two hundred attendees today and the best part is that they were an active crowd. You could sense that they were engaged and excited to be there and I know that when they left our rally today they were going to go home and spread the word.

At least two hundred? I guess that doubling the crowd hasn’t been impressive so now NOM is just taking the actual turnout and multiplying by three. Here’s the accompanying photo that Louis provides of the audience.
There are 61 people in this photo, including children.

As for the protesters, there were enough to count on one hand and they stayed closer to the street, held and few signs and kept to themselves. They weren’t an issue.

Yup, because the bulk of theme (outnumbering NOM’s crowd) were across town, in my opinion a wise move.

Although Bachmann didn’t make an appearance, State Representative Steve Gottwalt (District 15A) did show up. Still no word on either Bishop Battle or Satan.

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