Thursday, November 22, 2012

NOM Seeks to Spread Homophobia Overseas

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is not happy. With increasing support for same-sex marriage, the re-election of a president who has voiced support for LGBTQ rights, and the success of pro-LGBTQ initiatives in four states this month, the organization is reassessing its strategy. Unfortunately, that strategy will involve outreach to foreign countries, according to an article on a recent NOM conference call.

During a conference call on November 8th, NOM discussed the 2012 elections and the future of its anti-LGBTQ activism. According to the American Independent, NOM leaders stressed the importance of expanding their fundraising efforts and gaining grassroots support, especially in the face of challenges from LGBTQ equality groups such as Human Rights Campaign.
“Just looking at the battlefield, we are not the Human Rights Campaign. They’ve got 40 million dollars. They’ve got multiple grassroots directors. We are sort of a baby organization that’s had to grow very quickly, and we are going to be focusing a lot more on the grassroots.”
NOM president Brian Brown lamented that Karl Rove allegedly pushed the GOP to focus heavily on economic issues. He blamed the failure of anti-LGBTQ initiatives partially on the celebrity power harnessed by LGBTQ equality supporters.
“I think that the Republican Party in general was sold a false bill of goods this election, and the notion that we should only talk about economic issues gained the day. This was really sort of Karl Rove’s strategy. There was hundreds of millions of dollars raised for outside groups, and they wanted everyone to stay on message on jobs. But the big problem with that is twofold. Number one, the other side has all of these celebrities, governors, people like Michael Bloomberg, just a tremendous amount of elite support where they can get out and get their message out and have cheerleaders. We didn't have that. Secondly, clearly it was a mistake because it didn't work, and as Frank said, we significantly out-polled the Republican party in these states. So, it was not a wise decision simply on the level of winning and losing. It would have been a tremendous boon to us if we would have had more talk about marriage, more focus on this issue. A number of Democrats and others were swayed, especially in Minnesota, by the notion, well, that this is just about about keeping it out of our Constitution. This is not about legalizing same-sex marriage. Well, of course it is."
One conference call participant mentioned pro-LGBTQ efforts by Starbucks and General Mills, asking what measures the group could take “to stop the wave of corporate sponsorship of gay marriage.” In response, NOM president Brian Brown suggested anti-LGBTQ efforts in foreign regions where Starbucks seeks to expand, such as India and the Middle East.
“Their international outreach is where we can have the most effect, so for example, in Qatar, in the Middle East, we’ve begun working to make sure that there’s some price to be paid for this. These are not countries that look kindly on same-sex marriage, and this is where Starbucks wants to expand, as well as India. So we have done some of this. We’ve got to do a lot more.”
NOM may well be setting its sights overseas because of failures at home. NOM, alongside the Catholic Church and Knights of Columbus, donated significant amounts of money to failed anti-LGBTQ efforts in Minnesota, Maryland, Maine, and Washington, reports the Human Rights Campaign's NOM Exposed project. In the face of these failures, they may long to find greener homophobic pastures abroad. Furthermore, funding for the organization is precarious. An article in the Boston Globe states that NOM has experienced a drop in donations, from $9.1 million in 2010 to $6.2 million in 2011. Two donors provided more than $4.7 million of the total $6.2 million in 2011 funds. This small donor pool is not unusual for the organization, however. According to NOM Exposed, NOM's donor pool is small, with five donors accounting for 90% of its funding in 2010. Alliances with anti-LGBTQ groups overseas might provide much-needed funding.

However, the world is much smaller than it used to be, and increasingly less homophobic. LGBTQ rights advocates also network across the globe, and will undoubtedly speak out against any NOM-backed efforts abroad. Furthermore, the emerging LGBTQ communities in places like India are making their voices heard, and slowly, more people are reexamining their homophobia. While homophobia is very real in southern Asia and the Middle East, NOM should not expect automatic victories there without a fight. Now that the world know about their strategy, we'll be ready when they try to put it into action.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Americablog: Religious right to target Starbucks in Middle East over gay marriage

Queerty: NOM To Out Starbucks As Gay-Friendly In Homophobic Middle East

Pam's House Blend: NOM’s dangerous export of hate: ‘punishing’ pro-equality U.S. companies in countries hostile to gays

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