Civil rights groups denounce NOM’s race-based strategy
Civil rights groups on Tuesday blasted a confidential memo by the National Organization for Marriage which outlined a strategy of pitting the gay community against the black and Latino communities in order to score points in the group’s efforts to ban marriage rights for same-sex couples.
“These documents expose NOM for what it really is — a hate group determined to use African American faith leaders as pawns to push their damaging agenda and as mouthpieces to amplify that hatred,” said Sharon Lettman-‐Hicks. Hicks is the executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition. “With these memos made public, the black faith community must refuse to be exploited and refuse to deny their fellow brothers and sisters equal protection under the law.”
The memos outline a strategy of driving a wedge between the black community against the gay community. NOM proposed to recruit prominent black clergy and community leaders and then goad gay rights advocates into attacking those leaders.
The strategy, dubbed the “Not a Civil Right Project,” read:
“The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two key Democratic constituencies. Find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage; develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots. No politician wants to take up and push an issue that splits the base of the party. Fanning the hostility raised in the wake of Prop 8 is key to raising the costs of pushing gay marriage to its advocates and persuading the movement’s allies that advocates are unacceptably overreaching on this issue. Consider pushing a marriage amendment in Washington D.C.; Find attractive young black Democrats to challenge white gay marriage advocates electorally.”
Another section of the document describes NOM’s strategy for the Latino community.
“The Latino vote in America is a key swing vote,” NOM wrote, “and will be so even more so in the future, both because of demographic growth and inherent uncertainty: Will the process of assimilation to the dominant Anglo culture lead Hispanics to abandon traditional family values? We must interrupt this process of assimilation by making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity — a symbol of resistance to inappropriate assimilation.”
Former NAACP chairman Julian Bond, in an interview with The Hill, said he had been suspicious of NOM’s strategy before the memo was released, especially in Maryland.
“It confirmed a suspicion that some evil hand was behind this,” he said referring to the defeat of a gay marriage proposal in Maryland in 2011. According to The Hill, Bond said the 2011 marriage bill failed largely due to opposition from black politicians.
“I would not be surprised to find this group and its filthy hand in crafting this situation,” Bond said.
Minister Leslie Watson Malachi, director of People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council, issued a rebuke of NOM’s strategy.
“African American men and women of faith are not a political football to be tossed around in a cynical game of resentment and division. We, like all Americans, struggle thoughtfully with issues of faith, family and politics,” she said. “Anti-equality activists such as NOM consistently attempt to use a deeply cynical ‘wedge’ strategy to divide African Americans and the gay community, playing up what are now old and tired cliches. In the long run, this strategy will falter as African American and LGBT communities continue to work together for equal justice.”
She added, “NOM’s explicit attempt to drive a wedge between the LGBT community and African Americans is deeply offensive, and it exposes the depravity of their politics.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center also issued strong criticism against NOM’s strategy.
“[T]he revelation of its bald attempt to exploit black people and Latinos should help end the idea that NOM is an honorable group that would never engage in race-baiting,” said SPLC’s Mark Potok. “Because that is precisely what it has done.”