Former National Organization for Marriage President Maggie Gallagher, seen here in Wisconsin last year, has led several anti-gay marriage campaigns spearheaded by the group across the country. Photo Credit:

Lobbyist and NC Values Coalition Executive Director Tami Fitzgerald promised a “positive” campaign when she announced the formation of a new anti-gay referendum committee last week.

“We are going to keep it on a positive note: keeping marriage as marriage and keeping it from being redefined,” Fitzgerald told Raleigh’s News & Observer.

The new committee, Vote for Marriage NC, will work to support the passage of an anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment banning marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships for same-sex couples.

But, the coalition behind the group includes several organizations known for the exact opposite of the kind of “positive” campaign Fitzgerald said she seeks.

Among the groups affiliated with the new Vote for Marriage NC is the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). The group has been involved in several high-profile marriage initiatives, including California’s 2008 Proposition 8 and Maine’s 2009 Question 1. Additionally, NOM took a high-profile stance against New York’s legislative push to approve marriage equality there this year.

Sketchy history

In past campaigns, NOM has been caught pushing obvious misinformation, lies and spin.

This year, the group came under fire for misrepresenting supposed “legal scholars” opposed to marriage equality. Each of the several scholars cited by the organization were extremely biased and one, Robert George, is a former NOM board chairman.

NOM has also regularly exploited children in their political quests.

Also this year, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Politifact knocked the group for their repeated claims that legalization of same-sex marriage in New York would lead to kindergarteners learning about same-sex relationships.

The group has also attempted to link homosexuality to pedophilia — not once, but twice. The NOM-affiliated Ruth Institute has also claimed that homosexuality is a “learned” and “addictive” behavior.

In August, NOM accused gay activists of engaging in “jihad” to take away anti-gay Christians’ rights.

One of NOM’s first campaigns featured a billboard comparing a marriage equality supporter to Judas and Benedict Arnold. The group reincarnated the theme this year for mailers targeting pro-gay legislators in New York.

Equality Matters has provided a more in-depth run-down of NOM’s efforts in New York.

Mum’s the word

Current NOM President Brian Brown has said gay activists are engaging in a 'jihad.' Photo Credit:

NOM has been tight-lipped about their plans for North Carolina. According to one watchdog gay blogger, the national anti-family group’s silence thus far is questionable given the group’s traditionally outspoken nature. NOM has been especially active in Minnesota, which also faces an anti-LGBT amendment threat this year.

“I’ve noticed that everyone in North Carolina has been quiet,” Jeremy Hooper of told qnotes. “In Minnesota, the opposition is very engaged with a strong web presence and all that we’re used to. But North Carolina has been suspiciously quiet.”

Hooper said NOM’s recent reticent nature is likely a sign they are still developing strategy.

“In Minnesota, they’re going heavily Catholic. In Maryland, it’s the African American church. And so on and so forth,” he said. “I’d guess they’ve been trying to find their specific North Carolina direction, other than just white evangelical, which seems to be forefront in North Carolina’s opposition movement.”

Hooper’s analysis isn’t too far off the mark. The most outspoken proponents of the anti-LGBT amendment have largely come from white, Protestant and evangelical circles.

Last month, the N.C. Baptist State Convention unanimously approved support for the amendment.

At the time, newly elected N.C. Baptist President and First Baptist Church-Charlotte Pastor Mark Harris confidently reasserted his denomination’s stance.

“I believe the bible makes it clear,” Harris told qnotes. “The bible introduces marriage as between one man and one woman.”

The N.C. Baptist Convention is among the groups forming the Vote for Marriage NC committee.

Searching for an angle

South Carolina blogger and anti-gay watchdog Alvin McEwen told qnotes that he expects a strong NOM presence in the lead-up to the May 8, 2012, vote on the amendment.

How NOM goes about instituting their campaign strategy is a question still left unanswered. McEwen said the group’s past rhetoric and actions provide some clues.

“Look for them to push that nonsense about how ‘the best research says that children belong in a home with a mother and father,'” McEwen said. “Also, I expect them to push the lie about the Catholic Charities ‘being forced’ to give up helping to place adoptive children. The thing about NOM and other religious right groups is that they are big on ambushing people with anecdotes and horror stories about situations that allegedly happen because of marriage equality and the like. The big thing is to remember that they never tell the entire story.”

NOM’s campaigns often take a three-pronged approach, McEwen said.

“My guess is that NOM is going to target three angles — ‘gay marriage will harm children,’ ‘gay marriage will destroy religious liberty’ and ‘gays are trying to piggyback off of the Civil Rights Movement.'”

Fitzgerald has already hinted at a strategy exploiting children. She told The News & Observer on Thursday that marriage “generates the next generation of workers and the next generation of healthy children.”

McEwen added, “Watch the black pastors who team up with NOM.”

Among the groups supporting Vote for Marriage NC is an unnamed coalition of African-American pastors.

In September, North Carolina House Speaker Pro Tem Dale Folwell, R-Forsyth, invited a group of black pastors to speak at the General Assembly’s press room. Each of the pastors spoke forcefully against marriage for gay couples, language later decried as “bigoted” by then-Equality North Carolina Interim Executive Director Alex Miller. Appearing with Miller on WFAE’s “Charlotte Talks” with Mike Collins, Folwell feigned victimization as Miller criticized Folwell for his association with the pastors.

Like Folwell, NOM often plays the victim card, said McEwen.

“I expect them to deflect attention on how they are supposedly being labeled  ‘unfairly’ of course as ‘bigots’ simply because they supposedly believe that marriage is between a man and a woman,” he said. “[I] expect them to shift the argument to make it seem that gays are the aggressors.”

Fighting back

The anti-gay Vote for Marriage NC isn’t the only referendum committee formed to work on the amendment. Last week, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group, formed their Human Rights Campaign NC Families PAC. Last month, a coalition of progressive organizations including statewide LGBT advocacy and education group Equality North Carolina formed the Coalition to Protect NC Families.

qnotes reached out to Protect NC Families for comment on Vote for Marriage NC’s formation. The group’s campaign manager, Jeremy Kennedy, said his organization will fight for the rights of all North Carolinians.

“The Coalition to Protect NC Families was formed to do just what the name says — protect all families in NC,” Kennedy said in a statement.

Throughout this year’s legislative session, anti-gay groups stressed that the proposed amendment wouldn’t harm anyone. In fact, the anti-gay opposition’s lead spokesperson, Tami Fitzgerald, and NOM President Brian Brown have said their amendment aims to protect families.

Kennedy and Protect NC Families disagree.

“The anti-family constitutional amendment on the ballot in May protects no one,” Kennedy said. “Existing North Carolina statutes already define marriage for the state, but this extreme measure goes on to strip employees of domestic partner insurance benefits, invalidates domestic violence protections for all unmarried people, undercuts existing child custody and visitation rights designed to protect the best interest of children, and prevents the state from allowing committed couples from making decisions such as hospital visitation and end of life decisions.”

He added, “North Carolina is made up of all kinds of families. It is important for the government to recognize and protect these families, not go to great lengths to harm them. The Coalition to Protect NC Families, together with the people of North Carolina, will run a campaign to make sure that on election day the values that make this state great are upheld by the voters when this harmful amendment is defeated.”

Guessing game

North Carolina’s election laws leave plenty of room for creative political maneuvering and fundraising. Each side of the amendment debate has set up referendum committees able to receive unlimited contributions from individuals, businesses and other organizations.

Onlookers are anticipating campaign budgets reaching into the millions of dollars, a distinct possibility given past spending on similar campaigns around the country.

NOM itself budgeted as much as $11 million for its several campaigns between 2007 and 2010. In North Carolina specifically, the N.C. Baptist State Convention will present LGBT advocates with one of its most daunting challenges yet. With more 4,300 churches and some 1.3 million members, the convention is the largest Protestant denomination in the state.

Bloggers, activists and strategists have plenty of past evidence to predict NOM and Vote for Marriage NC campaign strategies in North Carolina. But, until those groups actually begin to institute their strategies and official advertising campaigns, watchdogs like McEwen and Hooper can only guess at the form in which the fight will come.

That guessing game can be tricky, Hooper said while urging caution. The scrutiny faced by anti-gay organizations like NOM has made them more strategic. What’s worked for NOM in past campaigns might not necessarily foreshadow similar efforts in the Tar Heel State, he said.

“We are so on to them now that they have to be extra careful,” Hooper said. “If they try to run the same campaign in every state, they’re going to get killed.”

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.

7 replies on “Amendment proponents known for anti-gay attacks”

  1. I utterly hate how NOM tries to turn the black community against the gays, making it look like the gays are attacking the blacks’ religious freedom (and, in an effort to fracture LGBT coalitions, that the blacks are attacking LGBT equality). Newsflash: black people can be LGBT, too! LGBT people can be religious, too! Charlotte’s first openly-LGBT elected official (Lawana Mayfield) was sworn into office yesterday, and she’s a black lesbian who goes to church.

    The only religious freedom being attacked is the freedom of the churches who wish to marry their same-sex-coupled members, but can’t under the current law. God, NOM is so moronic.

  2. NOM and it’s supporters are just plain vile. catalogs their homophobic posts and tags their name to it. People searching their name (for employment) will see their homophobic remark. They post something so vile in public, they will be held responsible.

  3. Yeah, NOM is so evil by ‘turning the black community against gay marriage.’ I hate to break it to you, but the vast majority of blacks were against gay marriage long before NOM was founded. They do not control what black people think.

    California now has to teach about ‘gay history’ in schools. That is pretty extraordinary, and it is something everyone in the gay rights movement supports, and yet to say it out loud is a ‘lie!’ If you really believe that same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue, why wouldn’t you want it to be taught about in schools?

    Similarly, Catholic Charities was forced to end its adoption services in Massachusetts, again with the support of the gay rights groups there. You might think that is good, but either way, it did happen, and it is perfectly fine to tell people about it. If you were so concerned that knowledge of this would damage opposition to the amendment in NC, you shouldn’t have cheered the shutting down of Catholic Charities in MA.

    I love the last line: “if they try to run the same campaign in every state, they’re going to get killed.” Have you spent the last decade under a rock? The marriage amendments have passed every single time they have been on the ballot (31 times), with the exception of Arizona, which narrowly rejected an amendment in 2006 and then approved one in 2008. The advice is something that should be taken by your side, not ours; your arguments -which never even mention marriage- have been tried in the same states, and have failed each time. I particularly like the claim that the amendment will actually ban all marriages…that was something Stuart Campbell tried during the 2005 campaign in Texas. We all know how well that worked out:,_Proposition_2_(2005)

  4. IT should not be surprizing what these folks are about with nuts like the late Jesse Helms in their pockets. Jesse has the blood of millions of people on his hands because of his hatred of gay people and because he thought that HIV was a gay disease. I fail to see how anyone can say anything kind about a mass murdered and bigot that he turned out to be and if they can—they are seeing the world through rose colored glasses.
    NOM is very immoral extremist fascist group of people who are the Hitlers among us. They are not Americans–their America is one in which you must believe and do as I do or the highway and death to gay people and women should have no rights. They fail to realize that black people are gay people and deserve the same rights as everyone else. NOM has created such a hate among black heterosexuals that a black gay person has a much worse time of things than whites do and the same thing that applies to blacks also applies to Hispanics because of the hatred that the Roman Catholic Church spews out against gay people confusing them with pedophiles—who are for about 99.9 % of them are heterosexuals.
    Gay people did not choose to be gay and if being born a gay person is so bad then why does God and straight people keep making them?
    It is a good thing that California students now are able to learn an unvarnished history of the peoples of this nation. When I was in school—we never heard about the history of Black people in this nation, how slavery got started up again after the fall of Rome and the culpabililty of Spain and Portugal in its upstart again. Neither did we hear much truth about aboriginal (they are not “Indians” and we should not continue calling them that simply because that ignorant Criminal Columbus called them that) peoples of the United States or how they won the some of the wars against white thugs stealing their lands–which land ownership was a foreign concept to them. The gay people of the 20th Century (and beginning in Germany in the 19th)have made miraculous advances in social history and especially beginning in the 1960s. Well it was not exactly our revolution but that of our grandparents whose women smoked openly, worked outside the home and got the vote–we just continued where they left off in the 1920s slowed down by the repressiveness of Senator Mccarthy in the 1950s but egged on by the beat generation of the 1950s. In the 1960s–Anita Bryant attacked us and lost her ORange Juice job. It was the time of make love not war and that meant that gay people also made love and not war although many of us were called to Viet Nam and luckily were never discovered about our sexual orientation. When you are under fire you do not care whether the man next to you is gay or not —all you want is to get out of their alive and if he takes you in his arms to confort you and maybe even kisses you–that is a good thing and does not mean his is gay but just being humaine. The 1970s brought false accusations that we were the spreaders of HIV and falsely accused that HIV was a disease of our people–thousands of both heterosexual and some of the brightest and best gay people of this generation died–thanks to such gay haters as President Reagan and Senator Jesse Helms.
    The 1980s brought about attempts for our folks to marry and the 1990s saw the full beginings of our fight for full human and civil righs. 2000 brought out the religious nuts in strenght but we have fought successfully against them and will continue to do so as Martin Luther King did for Black people in the 1960s

  5. In response to MSP:
    In California, the schools are required to teach history, including contributions by gay/lesbian persons. Just like it’s required to do for ethnic and religious groups already. This is because of legislation to this effect in CA. It has nothing to do with marriage equality, which, in fact, as you know, CA does NOT HAVE! So, there’s one distortion you’ve made. And I’ll also mention that teaching about Alan Turing, Michaelangelo, Da Vinci, and Bayard Rustin has nothing to do with what NOM claims as the inevitable result of marriage equality, and that’s sex. It’s history, not sex.
    Second distortion you’ve made: Catholic Charities in MA. I’m a MA resident, and well do I remember all the twists and turns in this story. It’s one of my favorites, because it so clearly illustrates just how perverted and demented the child raping church has become in it’s demonization of gay citizens of our commonwealth. In fact, Catholic Charities had already been placing adoptions with same sex couples for about eight years before marriage equality became reality here, and the church had no problem accepting many millions of dollars in state funding to perform its charity work, and abiding by the non-discrimination laws already in place which included sexual orientation. And then, marriage equality became the law, the church ordered Catholic Charities to stop doing adoption work, period. Apparently they were okay with placing kids with unmarried gay couples, but not married gay couples. Can you explain why? Hmmm? At this point, several members of the board of Catholic Charities resigned in protest to the Church, loudly proclaiming that they didn’t have any problem with gay couples adopting, this decision came from on high. The same high authority that shielded pedophiles from prosecution for decades. The same authority that sent Cardinal Bernard Law to the Vatican to avoid prosecution when the law started closing in on him for shuffling the criminal priests from parish to parish to avoid bad publicity and legal consequences. But according to the church, they’re the victims, and the gays are to blame for the closure of Catholic Charities. What a crock of bull! Not only have you lied about the facts, but it’s non-discrimination legislation which mandates all couples be treated equally in adoption placement, not marriage.
    As for your last paragraph, I can only guess that you’ve become complacent in your own point of view. All the low-hanging fruit is gone. Demographics change and younger voters don’t listen to the fearmongering that has worked with old people like you who fear and hate gay people because you have no experience with any gay people. NOM is a hate group, that much is clear, due to their constant repetition of scurrilous lies and distortions, and their enduring reliance on discredited, outmoded, and frankly junk science. If faith were truly at the heart of those who make up NOM’s leadership, they’d model the behavior of christ. Instead they behave like George Wallace at the schoolhouse door, desperately decrying integration.

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