Two national groups focused on marriage, albeit in two drastically different ways, have embarked on a 33-day, 23-city “Summer for Marriage” tour through July and August. Both groups will make stops in Raleigh on Aug. 10.
The anti-gay National Organization for Marriage (NOM) plans to drive an RV across much of the eastern continental U.S., holding rallies and other events pushing for discrimination in marriage. The group was instrumental in the passage of California’s Proposition 8 and other anti-LGBT, anti-family marriage initiatives.
Freedom to Marry, a group working for marriage equality for all, is shadowing NOM’s tour and is working with national, state and local partners to organize events countering NOM’s discriminatory rhetoric.
“We believe the distractions, the distortion and the discriminatory agenda from NOM cannot go unanswered,” Sean Eldridge, Freedom to Marry’s communications director, told qnotes. “They are driving through at least 17 states distorting the truth about our families and our lives and suggesting we don’t deserve the same protections as everyone else. I think it is important to counter that message with stories of loving and committed couples deserving of the same respect and the same rights.”
NOM held its first stop in Augusta, Maine, on July 14, where the group donated close to $2 million in that state’s ballot initiative on marriage last year. Freedom to Marry and Equality Maine teamed up to organize a counter-rally nearby. Gov. John Balducci attended and spoke at the pro-equality event.
Eldridge said NOM’s tour will ultimately prove lacking.
“NOM seems to be ignoring the reality that in five states and in the District of Columbia we have marriage equality,” he said. “The sky has not fallen, and families and couples are more protected and able to flourish. Conservatives have had the opportunity to articulate what harm has come from the freedom to marry and they’ve been completely unable to do so.”
He added, “As they drive around this summer, they aren’t going to say anything about how people’s lives have gotten better and no one has been harmed [by marriage equality]. NOM’s entire thesis has been disproven in the laboratories of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa and D.C.”
NOM plans to stop in Raleigh on Aug. 10. As of press time, details of the anti-gay rally or events had yet to be announced. Similarly, details for a counter-event have also not been released.
“Freedom to Marry is working very closely with every state organization and local partner to figure out what makes the most sense in every area,” Eldridge said, noting what works in New York or Iowa won’t work in other places.
Eldridge said they are working closely to plan events or other activities with Equality North Carolina, whose executive director, Ian Palmquist, has said will be a North Carolina-led event that works best for the state’s interests. For the past seven years, North Carolina’s state legislature has declined to debate a state constitutional amendment on marriage.
Another group, Courage Campaign, is keeping tabs on the NOM and Freedom to Marry tours at the NOMTourTracker.com, where they will post daily recaps, photos and videos from each stop. : :
more: Stay tuned to goqnotes-launch2.newspackstaging.com for the most up-to-date news on NOM’s stop in North Carolina and get more information about Freedom to Marry’s tour at freedomtomarry.org/summer-for-marriage.