NOM's 'New' Mission: Protect Christians from Gay Thugs

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 6 MIN.

The same anti-gay group that played a major role in generating a deeply bitter and divisive social climate in California prior to the vote on Proposition 8 and then created a campaign pledge, signed by Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty, and Mitt Romney, requiring the creation of a panel to investigate gay Americans, now seeks to paint anti-gay Christians whose actions cost them business opportunities as the victims of "bullying" from gay thugs, Pam's House Blend reported on Sept. 26.

The National Organization for Marriage has made a mythology of the so-called victimization of anti-gay activists who, according to NOM, saw their property vandalized and their families threatened. The purported harassment is the reason given for NOM's refusal to provide its donor lists to state election officials in California and in Maine, where NOM also played a role in a voter initiative to repeal marriage equality in 2009.

NOM took its efforts not to have to obey state election laws to the Supreme Court, where they lost the case--and where famously conservative justice Antonin Scalia scorned the argument that the donor lists should be kept secret for fear of retaliation from gay thugs.

Similarly, proponents of Prop 8 argued that the video records from the federal case brought against the anti-gay ballot measure should be suppressed, again claiming that the two witnesses provided by advocates of the measure would be placed at risk if the public was allowed to see them.

A federal judge disagreed ruling last week that the video records should be released to the public. Marriage equality advocates say that the video records will be instructive to the public at large as to how weak the case justifying the anti-gay ballot measure was, and note that the pro-marriage side had no such qualms about putting their 18 witnesses before the public eye.

Most of the cases of "vandalism" in the tense weeks leading up to the vote on Proposition 8 was to yard signs, and both sides saw such "vandalism" taking place, though NOM does not mention this.

Nonetheless, NOM continues to paint gays as lawless ruffians who think nothing of intimidating and threatening innocent Christians who simply wish to denigrate the GLBT community as an expression of their religious faith.

NOM created--and Bachmann, Pawlenty, and Romney signed--a campaign pledge that called on any winning presidential candidate who had signed it to establish a panel that would investigate gay Americans based on the presumption that gays had harassed and intimidated Christians and other anti-gay activists during the days leading up to the Prop 8 vote.

Now, Pam's House Blend reports, NOM has taken the additional step in its anti-gay attack of creating a separate entity, the Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance, as a platform on which to place so-called victims of gay thugs.

"We want to hear your story, connect you with others who share your deepest beliefs, with legal and other practical help, and with other Americans of good will, who (regardless of their views on marriage) want to put a stop to the shaming and the fear mongering of our fellow citizens," the new Alliance says in a solicitation for testimonials.

The testimonial does not seem to seek similar stories of "shaming and fear mongering" such as that which authorities believe led to the recent suicide of Buffalo, N.Y. gay teen Jayme Rodemeyer, the suicide one year ago of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, or any of the other suicides of GLTB youths over the last year and a half that has prompted a new national dialogue on the problem of anti-gay bullying.

Nor have there been reports of Christians driven to suicide by relentless harassment and cyber-bullying at the hands of gays.

Nonetheless, NOM's new Alliance purports to present a plethora of citizens who have been maliciously wronged by gays for doing nothing except giving voice to their most cherished beliefs. Appropriating the language of the GLBT community for its new project, NOM's Alliance tells readers, "Isolated and alone, we can be suppressed and intimidated. Together we are too many to be treated as second-class citizens."

One such "second-class citizen" the Alliance introduces is Frank Turek, an author of several books, including one that declares that marriage equality "harms everyone."

"Turek was consultant who lost several lucrative gigs because of his sidework of denigrating the gay community," Pam's House Blend reported.

The article includes a video of Turek speaking about having been "outed" and "fired" as "somebody who has a traditional marriage viewpoint."

"Turek makes himself sound like a pitiful victim," the article notes. "He makes it seem that his dismissals and inability to get gigs is due to his stance on gay marriage."

But what Turek did not mention in his video testimonial for NOM, Pam's House Blend noted, was how he had expressed a belief that gays were in league with "radical Muslims" to "destroy Western Civilization."

Nor did Turek mention that he also has other "viewpoints" that gays, as well as straights, might find offensive, the article said--such as his comparison of gays to pedophiles, violent street criminals, and the violently insane, opinions he expressed in videos made well before his NOM appearance.

"Turek has every right to speak his mind, but no company is bound to hire him, particularly if the company has lgbtq employees," the article noted. "Furthermore, if Turek had said the same awful comments about African-Americans or people of the Jewish faith, we would not be having this conversation."

The article added that Turek "seems to think that he should be shielded from the normal consequences of being a homophobic bigot--i.e. ostracization from the job market" as a special right associated with his religious beliefs.

"[W]e need to expose what really is intolerance," Turek said in the course of the video, "and really un-American--to say that you have to have a certain political view in order to work in the United States of America." Turek added that it was unjust that Christians might fear to "speak up" out of fear of losing "that next promotion."

Critics of the argument that Christians should have a special right to attack gays based on their religious beliefs and of the claim that GLBT equality somehow represents a threat to freedom of religion note that violent episodes of physical aggression tend to involve assailants driven by social or religious prejudice attacking gays and lesbians, and point to a lack of similar attacks by gays targeting anyone on the basis of religion.

But at least one reader who posted a response to the Pam's House Bland article felt that the myth being created by NOM would prove harmful to the GLBT community.

"You'll be hearing much, much more of this sort of argument over the coming months and years, and the bad guys (never mind their lies) will win more than a few battles by arguing, basically, that not letting them bash gays interferes with their free exercise of religion," the posting predicted.

The author of the post went on to note that federal laws exist to provide workplace protections for people of minority religious faiths, but that no federal law--such as the long-introduced but unsuccessful Employment Non-Discrimination Act--offers any similar protections.

"It is disturbing, this attitude of 'My religious beliefs, no matter how hateful or outright insane, trump reality, fairness and civil law, and give me an absolute right to force everyone on the planet to conform to my delusions,' " a second posting asserted.

"Allowing a spoiled child to have whatever she wants does not teach her respect; allowing a psychopath to indulge in his fantasies unchallenged is not the road to treatment," the posting added.

"[T]here were times, not all that long ago, when essentially the same arguments were used to justify segregation and the denial of equal rights to women," a third reader posted, "including that people's religious beliefs were being trampled by allowing women to vote or Negroes to eat at the same lunch counter. And, yes, in a lot of places, they won, for a long time."

However, the posting added, "this won't last for long. It'll clear up far faster than the previous issues did."

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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