Posts Tagged ‘NOM’

Are Those Who Oppose Marriage Equality Bigots? Some of Them

July 3rd, 2011 No comments

Here I examine the current move of the equality opposition forces — to cast themselves as victims by saying we’re calling their defense of “traditional marriage” bigotry.

NY Passes Marriage Equality Law — With Strings (That I Can (Barely) Live With)

June 25th, 2011 No comments
Andrew Cuomo hands pens to legislators after signing the bill into law late Friday. | AP Photo

This will go up on soon, but since I don’t know when, I want to get this posted ASAP:

[Update: it’s now up. Here is the link.]

Marriage equality is coming to New York! The bill was signed within about an hour of its passage through the legislature, and marriage licenses will start issuing in thirty days.

It’s hard to write a column when all you want to do is scream and dance. I’m in Pennsylvania, not New York, but I grew up there and am still enough of a NY snob and realist to know that this is a

Only the more populous California rivals New York in legal and symbolic importance. The state’s financial and cultural clout are exported around the world. Now this news about marriage will be, too, and I expect other states and nations to use this development as powerful ammunition for their own marriage equality movements. Our opponents – especially the National Organization for Marriage – know this, too.

When they’re being honest with themselves, they also know that their tactics at best delay the inevitable. That defensive game just got a lot tougher, especially since it was Republicans that made the difference in the state senate: Senator Skelos, the majority leader, allowed the measure to come to a vote; and in the end four Republicans put the measure over the top.

Consider the two whose votes were declared only last night: Mark Grisanti, who represents the Buffalo-Niagara Falls area; and Steve Saland, from the beautiful Hudson Valley part of the state.

These are exactly the kind of measured, moderate voices that quietly voice the doom of the anti-equality effort. Saland has a reputation as a thoughtful (if dull) legislator, but he spoke with confidence and conviction about his vote, declaring that his emotional journey towards recognizing the dignity and equality of gay couples was now at its end. He knew, somehow, that his parents would be proud of him

It was Grisanti, though, who is going to have the Catholic-inflected NOM et al. scrambling for a new playbook. He’s a real Catholic (check out his bio to see how very Catholic he is), yet was, in the end, able to separate his religion from what he concluded the law must allow.

Both Saland and Grisanti, significantly, are lawyers. I know, I know – a law degree doesn’t confer infallibility. But when it comes to legal rights, any attorney should be able to articulate a reason to exclude a class of people from equality. And Grisanti said: “I cannot legally come up with an argument against same-sex marriage.”

Others have, though. It’s worth recalling that the New York Court of Appeals ruled in 2006 that the state could ban same-sex weddings, using some of the worst arguments you will ever see in a body of such stature. This win more than makes up for that serious misstep, and is more satisfying, in a way.

This brings me to the one part of the law about which I have serious reservations: the religious exemptions. I’m well aware that the bill wouldn’t have passed without them, so the question is: Was it worth it? Are the exemptions too strong? Are they justified? Or should we have waited for a better law, bearing in mind that this version of marriage equality is likely to be ferried from state to state, going forward?

On balance, I think the exemptions are tolerable – but just barely.

First, they’re not the broadest – and dumbest – exceptions that have been suggested by a small, seriously misguided, group of law professors. These folks lurch from state to state arguing that businesses should be able to refuse to cater, photograph, provide flowers for, or put up guests for same-sex weddings if their objection is based on religion

This has been, and will continue to be, a non-starter. Although ostensibly limited to transactions connected to the wedding, in fact the restriction is impossible to police and would result in the rollback of anti-discrimination protection in states that have worked so hard to get it.

But the exemptions that are in the bill remain troubling. They go beyond what the state law and the U.S. Constitution already require, which is that no religion is forced to solemnize any marriage that violates its tenets. Under the amendments – released, maddeningly, just hours before the vote – neither these religious organizations, nor any non-profit organizations they control, nor any other “benevolent association” (think Knights of Columbus) has to have anything at all to do with a same-sex wedding.

As a pointed example, the measure would foreclose a suit such as the one filed by a New Jersey couple denied use of a beach pavilion by the Methodist church that owned it. The facility was routinely rented out for all kinds of weddings, so one might think that the decision to enter the world of commerce means you have to take all comers.

Yes in New Jersey — but not in New York. A church, synagogue, or mosque, can spin off as many organizations as it wishes, and engage in whatever businesses it wishes, without having to get involved in anything to do with our weddings. They can’t be sued for their actions, and they can’t lose their tax-exempt status because of them. I prefer the New Jersey approach, which strips away the religious fig leaf from naked acts of commerce.

There are also provisions in the law designed to reassure religious organizations that marriage equality can’t be used as a sword to get them to provide housing, employment, or services to the LGBT community where doing so would be inconsistent with their basic message. But those protections are already in state law, so the law isn’t as troubling there. Or at least it’s not newly troubling.

One thing that the law seems to leave out is an exemption for adoption agencies affiliated with religious organizations (like Catholic Charities) that will not place kids in households headed by same-sex couples. This is a vexing question that deserves its own post (coming soon!).

Let me close by panning back out, away from the details of the law to the broader commitment to dignity and equality that it embodies. Openly gay and HIV+ Senator Tom Duane ran well past his allotted time to provide a brief history of the progress of our movement, culminating in this huge victory. Then he said: “Nothing is going to change about how we love or take care of each other.” It is just that the state is now going to recognize and support us in these efforts.

And it is about time.

They (NOM) Took the Words Right out of my Mouth

April 7th, 2011 No comments

…and twisted them to their own evil purposes. And then they (the National Organization for Marriage) refused to post my comment that would have led back to my original column, so readers might compare for themselves.

Not OK. The whole sad mess is chronicled in this week’s 365gay column.

Categories: 365gay column, NOM Tags: , , ,

NOM’s “Summer for Marriage Tour”‘s First Stop: Write Your Own Caption

July 16th, 2010 4 comments

Mine follows the photo:

Unexpectedly high attendance at kick-off rally forces NOM to order second pizza

The Worst Summer Vacation, Ever

July 13th, 2010 No comments

Pity the children of Brian Brown, President of the National Organization for Marriage. To satisfy dad’s need to poop on the marriage equality forces, the poor kids will be dragged up and down the East Coast during the hottest, most miserable summer in recorded memory.

Yes, kids, hop aboard the Summer of [Some] Marriage[s] Van, where you’ll get to attend rallies, some attended by as many as dozens of people, in support of the fairness-stopping agenda!

Better bring your video games and plenty of stuff to do.

Here’s a conversation that I’m imagining having with my kids were I to suggest a counter-tour (which, by the way, someone without kids and with some time ought to organize; follow these dreary killjoys from pillar to post, and liven things up with some clever, performance art-type responsive rallies):

Me: Kids, this year we won’t be going to the beach, or to any water parks, or to camp.

Girls: Daddy, what will we be doing instead?

Me: We’re going to travel across the country in a van, and get out at some points and talk to people about things that matter to us.

Girls: What things? Having fun?

Me: Not exactly.

Girls: This sounds boring.

Me: Someday you’ll understand.

Girls: {burst into tears}

Maybe NOM should try a stealthier approach, since the van they’re using might as well have a sign on it that says: “Egg Me!” (which I don’t for a minute condone; eggs are too valuable to waste). Perhaps they could salvage this van, and trick the kids into thinking they’re headed for stardom:


Reaction: New York Senate Votes Against Marriage Equality, 24-38

December 2nd, 2009 2 comments

I had no idea whether the Senate would pass this measure, but I’ll bet everyone was surprised by the lop-sided margin by which it went down to defeat.  So all of these months of wrangling and wondering whether the bill would even come to a vote end with…a thud. Very disappointing, especially since eighteen of the twenty-four supporters spoke during the debate, as compared with only one opponent.

To me, the opponents’ silence says: “We know we don’t have arguments that are compelling, and we don’t want to stand against these many real-life stories of how the denial of equality affects our fellow New Yorkers. But we’re afraid of the political ramifications of a “yes” vote.”

It looks like NOM’s threat to campaign against any Republican who supported the measure had some effect, but it’s too simple to blame it all on that. There’s still the matter of the Democrats who voted against it, some of whom appeared to have been supporters. What happened? How much of this is attributable to the voters’ reaction to legislatively conferred marriage equality in Maine? And how will it affect the vote in neighboring New Jersey? (Prediction: Now, I’d be surprised if the matter even came to a vote. And if it does, expect another defeat.)

Is the glass filling, or emptying? 2009 has been an up-and-down year for marriage equality (and in that order, too — first “up” with results in Iowa, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont; and then “down,” with the California decision upholding Prop 8, the voter repeal of marriage equality in Maine, and now this).  The year’s not over, of course, as D.C. looks poised to enact marriage equality before year’s end, so things may yet end on a positive note. But overall 2009 is ending on a down note.

More broadly, though, nothing will stop this movement. I know and believe this.

To end on a practical note: All the N.Y. Senate has done is to make getting married more of a challenge for New Yorkers: The state recognizes same-sex marriages from other states, and today’s action didn’t change that. Yet the legislature was unwilling to make life easier for gay couples: They still have to go to Massachusetts, Connecticut, or Canada (to name the three adjoining jurisdictions that recognize gay marriages) in order to marry.

Drop the Bombs [On] the Minarets

November 29th, 2009 No comments

Voters in Switzerland just approved a referendum amending the Swiss Constitution to ban the construction of minarets attached to mosques. The supporters claim it’s not about restricting the religion of Islam, but about the minaret as a political symbol. Whatever.

Here, among other places, I’ve objected to putting people’s rights up for a popular vote. Of course, NOM Prez Maggie Gallagher thinks that legislatures (let alone courts!) are pernicious when it comes to gay rights, and says that the only results we should credit are those coming directly from voters.

Will someone notify me when she celebrates the people’s will on this weird Swiss measure restricting religious freedom? It won’t happen. Expect just the opposite. When and if she opines on this vote, I’ll post my reaction.

NOM Approves of Marriage Between Man, Videogame Woman

November 25th, 2009 3 comments

A Japanese man’s recent marriage to a videogame character, Nena, is reported here:


Brian Brown, Executive Director of the National Organization for Marriage (“NOM”), issued a statement approving the union. “We here at NOM believe that marriage is the union of man and woman,” said Brown. “It’s true that the couple can’t procreate, but this marriage, like all marriages between a man and a woman, promotes the naturally complementary nature of the sexes. That nature is revealed even when, through no fault of their own, the couple is incapable of bearing children.”

NOM President Maggie Gallagher agreed, and expressed a concern that gay couples would try to use this marriage as evidence that they, too, should be permitted to wed. “Expect same-sex couples to whine about their “real needs” as flesh and blood people,” she said. “Whatever those needs are, they shouldn’t be allowed to transform marriage from what it’s always been — the union of man and woman. A cyber-woman is still a woman, and we at NOM support laws that bring people, real or virtual, together. Gay marriage tears marriage apart.”

Gallagher also speculated that some who are objecting to the marriage resented the fact that Nena is beautiful. “Those almost impossibly large eyes, that vast smile….Where was I? It all reminds me of how the activist gay community had it in for that poor Carrie Prejean.”

NOM is said to be considering whether to support the couple’s right to adopt children.