The Human Rights Campaign highlighted a new milestone in the march toward full marriage equality: the fall of the empire opposed to same-sex marriage. Widespread losses, sagging poll numbers, and poor investments make it difficult to see how national groups like the so-called National Organization for Marriage remain viable.
“The mission of groups like NOM is to stop marriage equality,” said Kevin Nix, HRC spokesperson. “That hasn’t happened. In fact, support for marriage equality has spread like wildfire the past couple of years and there’s no turning back. With no momentum and no money, they’ve lost the marriage debate.”
The momentum for marriage equality is indisputable. Four state legislatures passed same-sex marriage legislation during 2011-12, and voters in four states for the first time in history affirmed marriage equality on the ballot last November. This string of legislative and electoral victories would not have been possible without Republican support. National and statewide polling consistently shows majorities – including African Americans, Latinos, millennials, Democrats, and Independents – back gay and lesbian couples receiving marriage licenses. And marriage equality supporters have more intensity than opponents, according to a recent post-election poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner.
Opponents’ financing is drying up. They were outspent almost three to one last year, $12 million to $34 million in the ballot campaigns. More broadly, tax documents obtained by HRC last fall show that NOM’s funding declined by one-third for 2011 – and that a whopping 75 percent of the anti-gay organization’s funding came from just two donors. It’s not surprising then that NOM is unable to follow through on the threats the group makes to Republicans supportive of marriage equality.
NOM promised, for instance, that it would spend $2 million to defeat the four Republican State Senators in New York who backed the legislature’s same-sex marriage bill in 2011. NOM then backpedalled, saying it would spend $250,000 in the primary fights. According to NOM PAC NY’s campaign finance reports, it only raised $45,000 and only spent $40,000 in 2012 – nowhere near what it claimed it would spend.
Beyond funding, NOM’s pressure campaigns – which the group insists have been successful – have produced little return on investment. A new HRC fact check piece makes clear the effort to oust the four Republicans strictly because of their votes on marriage did not work.
“NOM’s threats to kick Republicans out of office – whether in New York two years ago or in Illinois earlier this month – are empty,” said Nix. “It’s nothing but bluster aimed to instill fear in lawmakers. NOM’s become nothing but a paper tiger.”
NOM’s President, Brian Brown, just got back from Paris where, he says, he sought inspiration on how to stop same-sex marriage in America. French President Francois Hollande campaigned on legalizing same-sex marriage.
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