Earlier this month, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), one of the most visible and active anti-gay marriage groups, asked all serious contenders for the GOP nomination for president to sign its so-called “Marriage Pledge.”
It some ways, it was just another pledge being sought from political conservatives, like the one that many Republicans have signed promising never to vote for higher taxes. The NOM pledge obligates signers to oppose same-sex marriage, support a federal amendment defining marriage as limited to one man and one woman, and back the appointment of judges and an attorney general who will “respect the original meaning of the Constitution” and defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denies the legal federal benefits of marriage to same-sex couples.
No particular surprises there. But there is one especially sinister provision: the NOM pledge promises that signers, upon election, will “appoint a presidential commission to investigate harassment of traditional marriage supporters.”
NOM has a history of raising the specter of “harassment” by LGBT people against them and their supporters. Most recently, the group condemned “intolerable gay activist harassment” against Florida congressman Allen West, who does not support same-sex marriage. The harassment in question? The state’s Democratic LGBT caucus called for a boycott of businesses associated with members of the Wilton Manors Business Association in Broward County. West was scheduled to address the association, but the threat of a boycott caused the association to withdraw its invitation.
At the same time, NOM has been under fire for refusing to disclose its donors, which, the group claims, would lead to “harassment” of its funders, again from LGBT people and their supporters. Already, the group has lost campaign disclosure court cases in Maine and Rhode Island; in Minnesota, a state board that oversees campaign financial disclosures also rejected NOM’s bid. But the group has yet to release its donor list as it appeals the rulings against it.
The reality is that there’s little to suggest that religious-right organizations are being subjected to any substantial harassment by members of the LGBT community, outside of the occasional boycott. In fact, it is the LGBT community that is targeted for real harassment — criminal hate violence — far more than any other minority in America. A Southern Poverty Law Center analysis of hate crime data found that LGBT people were, on average, 8.3 times more likely to be attacked in a violent hate crime than would be expected on a per capita basis.
But NOM and likeminded organizations are losing the battle for public support, which is probably the real reason for its shrill and baseless accusations. A recent poll conducted in traditionally conservative Nebraska revealed that 73% of respondents there thought that LGBT people should be protected from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation. Sixty-four percent agreed with allowing same-sex couples to enter into legal agreements with each other that would give them the same rights as marriage, and 56% backed the right of same-sex couples to adopt children.