Tag Archives: National Organization for Marriage

Altoona, Pennsylvania

20 Apr

Due to life, I haven’t written in quite some time. And I’m not sure when I’ll write again, but I noticed something tonight I wanted to let you know about.

I’m on the mailing list for the anti-gay hate group, the National Organization for Marriage, which I’ve written about several times. They’re known primarily for spreading lies about LGBT families and screwing up amicus briefs when marriage equality is discussed in our court system. They’re signature event is an anti-gay hate march they hold in Washington DC each year titled “The March for Marriage.” I’ve attended twice and taken photos to show just how few people are showing up for their hate marches. Both years, they’ve publicly inflated their numbers by 1000-2000%.

But today, I received an email from NOM stating:

“I just received a phone call from a lovely couple in Altoona, Pennsylvania, who have chartered a bus and gathered 30 of their friends to come to the March for Marriage next weekend! Isn’t that wonderful?”

It seems like your usual fib. A made up phone call trying to show that anyone from anywhere can bring people to this hate march – but there is something different about this one. Altoona, Pennsylvania. Altoona is a small city, with a population just under 50,000. Nothing to write home about. But to those of us who’ve studied the history of LGBT equality, or just to those of us who saw the movie, “MILK,” Altoona, Pennsylvania seems a touch familiar.

From the tape recording made by Harvey Milk, to be played in the event of his assassination:

“I ask for the movement to continue, for the movement to grow, because last week I got a phone call from Altoona, Pennsylvania, and my election gave somebody else, one more person, hope. And after all, that’s what this is all about. It’s not about personal gain, not about ego, not about power — it’s about giving those young people out there in the Altoona, Pennsylvanias, hope. You gotta give them hope.”

I’d never heard of Altoona, Pennsylvania before I saw a documentary about Harvey Milk. Is it coincidence that the young man who called Harvey Milk was from the same town that NOM got a mysterious call from as well? Or is NOM purposefully trying to troll LGBT equality organizers by throwing in a dog whistle from a very famous Harvey Milk quote? I’ve certainly got my suspicions.

Photo (c) Danny Nicoletta

Photo (c) Danny Nicoletta

 

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The very public, very desperate crumbling of the anti-gay Right

4 Jul

One week ago, I sat in front of the Supreme Court of the United States among hundred of others anxiously awaiting their decisions on marriage equality.

Interviewing the first openly gay person of color in Congress, Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA)

Interviewing the first openly gay person of color in Congress, Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) photo by Sarah Baker

It’s strange, because there in the sun, just a few hundred feet from where the decisions were being read, we actually found out quite a bit later than many of you at home reading SCOTUSblog. Phone service was sparse and in the bright, direct sunlight, I couldn’t see a thing on my screen. Not to mention, I was busy hosting streaming coverage and interviews for WeActRadio. While talking with Congressman Mark Takano (D-CA), the decision striking down Section 3 of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) came out.

I wanted to scream and hug the Congress member, but we didn’t quite have that kind of relationship yet. I continued covering the day’s events and followed up with several other interviews on radio stations around the country and finished up the day on SiriusXM Radio with my husband and another friend and her wife…and a bottle of champagne. What a day!

My husband, Sean and I standing with Brendon Ayanbadejo outside the Supreme Court in March

My husband, Sean and I standing with Brendon Ayanbadejo outside the Supreme Court in March

My husband Sean and I had helped to organize rallies that happened outside the Supreme Court back in March while the DOMA and Prop 8 arguments were being heard. So much of our time was spent considering what “the other side” would be planning while we rallied. Partly we wanted to know so that we could respond courteously and effectively to the things they said. But the other reason we wanted to be prepared for them was so we could protect the families we knew would be standing with us, from the hateful, toxic things the anti-gay right seems to spew when they’re angry. Our kids don’t need to hear that.

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Last week at the Supreme Court

Last week in front of the court was different though. Despite hate groups like the National Organization for Marriage and Family Research Council calling for “days of prayer” and for their followers to stand with them that morning on the steps of the court, no one came. I could count on one hand the number of people standing their with anti-gay signs. The rest was a sea of rainbows and love. Maybe despite their screams to the press that they would win, they knew what was coming, what was inevitable.

What followed that amazing day when my husband and I woke up without equality and went to bed with 1,100 more rights, was truly dumbfounding.

The National Organization immediately began attacking the court for making an “Illegitimate” decision. In their first email/blog post, they asked for money and linked to their fundraising page 8 TIMES. As a person who works in digital media for a living, I can tell you with some certainty that 3-4 times is excessive when asking for money in one email, but 8?!? Not even street canvassers will bother you that many times.

NOM President Brian Brown’s initial response to the court’s decision was scathing:

“There is a stench coming from this case that has now stained the Supreme Court. They’ve allowed corrupt politicians and judges to betray the voters, rewarding them for their betrayal. It’s an illegitimate decision. We and millions of other Americans will refuse to accept this rogue decision rewarding corruption. “

NOM President Brian Brown

NOM President Brian Brown

Then came the emails. The angry, angry emails. NOM’s emails accused California lawmakers of participating in “lawlessness” when they began issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples (which was now legal following Prop 8 being struck down). Another email was filled with vitriol and borderline racist comments about CA Attorney General Kamala Harris. In this message, they refer to Harris’ “arrogance,” a term usually reserved for those we think don’t deserve a place in leadership. Additionally, they use the email to twist and misquote remarks made by the President about Harris a few months ago.

They followed with a tweet that said “Polygamists are actually celebrating the Supreme Court’s decisions this week as a personal victory for them” and linked to a blog post which of course, said nothing of the sort.

In other posts, they continued their usual outdated theme claiming that marriage equality is bad for children somehow. Yet they continue to ignore the fact that their argument completely discounts the millions of kids being raised by LGBT parents.

NOM wrapped up the week with a patriotic 4th of July email claiming that a person cannot be gay or a supporter of equality for gay people and an American at the same time.

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Graphic from NOM’s most recent email

The anti-gay Right is disintegrating before our eyes and the desperation with which they are clinging onto life has never been more apparent. They will never be gone forever, though. Just as we’ve seen with groups that fought integration and some in the South who are still fighting the Civil War, they’re never gone for good.

Happily though, with support for marriage equality in this country hitting all time highs and a Gallup poll following last week’s rulings finding support at 55% for and 40% against legalizing same-sex marriages, these hate groups will continue to lose funding and support.

The fight is far from over, and as NOM is only too quick to recognize, there are still 37 states which do not recognize marriage equality. I think this number will drop quickly, but not without our work.

NOM’s Anti-Gay No-Show Band “Apologizes” (to volunteers)

30 May

dsc_0493A few months ago, my now-husband and I were involved in helping to organize the United for Marriage rallies at the Supreme Court. Our events, in support of equality for all Americans brought thousands to the steps of the highest court in the land and brought together over 150 different organizations in solidarity.

The first day of the rally, the virulently anti-gay group, The National Organization for Marriage had scheduled a rally to fight marriage equality. Their (sparsely-attended) rally was a topic of much discussion leading up to the events.

In working with GoodAsYou.org’s Jeremy Hooper, we immediately went on the lookout to find out just what they were planning. Jeremy did some incredible work to research the musicians slated to perform at the anti-gay event. One group backed out nearly immediately after being informed of NOM’s history and the truth behind their work. Another group, a band named “Ultramontane” was nowhere to be found. After some further research, we discovered “Ultramontane” was actually just 3 out of the 5 members of the band, Scythian.

NOM's "March for Marriage"

NOM’s “March for Marriage”

As we reported on this and as Scythian quickly removed all their online properties and social media to avoid the frustration of equality-minded fans, the two musicians who’d decided not to take part were left to deal with all the questions. To this day, 2 months later, the three bandmates who refused to do so much as state why they’d decided to support a hate group, have yet to make a public statement.

In the meantime, Josef Crosby and Andrew Toy have publicly and eloquently stated their support for equality.

The band is now back together after taking a bit of a hiatus while this all “blew over.” A rogue fan group upset about the band member’s actions started their own Facebook group. Many who belong to the group are also volunteers for the band’s “Street Team,” selling t-shirts and such at concerts.

It turns out the other three band members made a statement on their Street Team Facebook group back in April. I can’t help but feel a little amazed at how they manage to make themselves out to be victims or martyrs here – although that seems to be the main talking point of anti-gay Christianists nowadays. The truth of the matter is they never actually showed up to perform at the  anti-gay rally (something drummer Andrew Toy had no idea of even a week after the event). They explain why:

6a00d8341c503453ef017ee95bd88c970d“First of all, we wanted to let you know that we did not play the March for Marriage. Though still firm in our stance on traditional marriage, based in our deeply held faith as Catholics, upon researching the event, we decided that we did not want to be involved given its highly politically charged nature. Admittedly, there was some naivete involved on our part in accepting to play, and this was all a learning experience for us.

Those of you who civilly disagreed with our stance, we thank you for the respect you accorded us. You are true ambassadors of peace and much needed in this world. And we thank those who have respectfully shown support for us and assured us of their prayers.

We must say that we were deeply saddened by the ugly nature of the attacks leveled at us for expressing our convictions. We were especially alarmed when members of our family fell under these vicious attacks, wherein they were disparaged for their stance and wherein their personal information was disseminated. For this reason, as you might imagine, we were left with no choice but to shut down the main band page as we could not control what was posted. We choose not to respond in kind, and offer our prayers for those people, confident in the hope that love conquers, indeed has conquered all. We can’t help but believe that most of the ugly posts were not made by Scythian fans but by outsiders.

As far as the street team group goes, we wanted to address some of you who felt hurt in the past weeks. Due to the ugliness encountered, the band members stepped away entirely from the medium of Facebook, very much shaken by the ugliness that can be encountered through it. In the weeks since the turn of events, all administrative activity was taken care of by our friend and assistant. If some of you felt marginalized, we sincerely apologize. If there was any offense taken at her actions, please understand that she was in a difficult position, with no playbook in hand, and that if she erred, her actions were motivated from a place of protecting us. She too was shaken by what happened on the main page. We ask you for your understanding and forgiveness.

In all, this was a very disturbing and trying experience for us, and we hope to move on from it. Though tried by this experience, we sincerely believe that people can disagree and still have respect and love for each other. We hope you can understand where we are coming from and help us move on too. Our plan is to get the main Facebook page up and running soon. Stay tuned.”

Keep in mind this message was not sent to fans, but to volunteers they need to help promote their shows and sell their merch. The band has yet to actually publicly address why they chose to align themselves with an anti-gay hate group.

NOM Takes on HRC Viral Red Campaign

27 Mar

DSC_0493I’m not one to revel in the downfall of the anti-gay movement. LOL who am I kidding? It’s brilliant to see bigotry and discrimination going the way of the car phone.

After spending the past two days organizing and helping run the stage at the United for Marriage rallies at the Supreme Court, doing about a dozen radio interviews and holding my soon-to-be husband’s hand while Edie Windsor walked down the court steps, I’m tired.

Yesterday after the rally, Sean and I walked to the anti-gay rally and were surprised to find a remarkably tiny crowd and horrifically boring rally. The only fireworks were from a 15 year old gay activist being bullied by some adults in the crowd. I was able to take a few photos of the scant crowd before leaving (or being bored to tears). Thomas Peters of the National Organization for Marriage claimed 15,000 people attended the rally and NOM President Brian Brown claimed over 10,000. Of course, the pictures show otherwise and the Capitol Police count (you know – the people in charge of counting crowds) claimed between 1,500 and 2,000.

The stage at the anti-gay march

The stage at the anti-gay march

The view from the stage at the anti-gay march

The view from the stage at the anti-gay march

And then there’s science. You may have notice 1 or 2 or 1,000 of your Facebook friends have changed their profile photo to a red equal sign or some version of it. According to SpotCo’s media team:

7580_434351313319009_1554855818_nMarriage Equality ‘Red & Pink’ Logo Dominates Facebook 3/26/13-HRC’s Facebook timeline was visited by over 9 million people yesterday.

-The photo was shared over 77,000 times just from the organization’s Facebook page directly.

-Number of profile photo changes to HRC logo estimated in the over 1 million.

-Big Brands jump on board to support. (Madonna, Beyonce, Martha Stewart Bud Light, among others…).

-People from 26 other countries chimed in for support – Japan being at the top of the list.

-Photo remixes estimated over 3,000 just yesterday

And then tonight happened. After at least doubling the crowd of the anti-gay group marching on Tuesday, Thomas Peters, Spokesman for the anti-gay group National Organization for Marriage (and might I add, the worst Communications Director of all time) has launched his own little viral campaign.
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I can’t wait to see the stats.
In case you’re looking for a better version of their icon, please share this one:
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Members of band hurt by NOM speak out

20 Mar

It’s been a tumultuous week for the National Organization for Marriage. Last week, they released a video to advertise their anti-gay hate march in Washington D.C. – that video has now been yanked from Youtube because NOM had stolen the background music from the equality-supporting Katie Herzig.

The Lee Boys, one of their two announced acts to play at the big anti-gay hate march pulled out seconds after they were announced. Seems someone tipped them off to the fact that NOM exists solely to attack gay families.

Then a little poll came out announcing Americans were 58% in favor of marriage equality.

And upon researching their 2nd announced act, I discovered the band didn’t exist. Called “Ultramontane,” the celtic fiddle boy band was actually 3 of the 5 members of a popular ensemble known as Scythian. There was great mystery shrouded in the circumstances surrounding the split, but the band released a statement essentially saying they agreed to disagree.

Scythian's Josef Crosby

Scythian’s Josef Crosby

Since then, an uproar from equality-loving and some gay-hating fans have caused them to delete their Facebook and Twitter accounts. The individual band members have also been approached on their personal social networking sites and while we’ve heard nothing from the band members who’ve decided to play for the anti-gay march, the two who’ve opted out are now speaking out.

Drummer Andrew Toy briefly took to his Facebook page to state his support for equality a few days ago and now his fellow equality-loving band mate has made a beautiful statement of his own:

“I’ve always made it a point to leave politics at the door when it came to Scythian, but I feel I have to go on record as saying that I am completely in support of full equality for all couples, no matter their orientation. I can only hope the Supreme Court agrees.”

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Will Anti-Gay Group NOM be one band’s Yoko Ono?

15 Mar

It’s been a rough week for the anti-gay group, National Organization for Marriage (NOM) – actually, a really rough two days to be specific.

Let’s review:

In an AP interview on Thursday, John Eastman, chair of NOM blasted families with adopted children and specifically the family of Chief Justice John Roberts (who has two adopted children):

“You’re looking at what is the best course societywide to get you the optimal result in the widest variety of cases. That often is not open to people in individual cases. Certainly adoption in families headed, like Chief Roberts’ family is, by a heterosexual couple, is by far the second-best option.

Next, NOM released a commercial for their hate march happening March 26th the same day as the United for Marriage rally outside the Supreme Court. As with any anti-gay propaganda they release, it was full of lies which have been debunked dozens of times – and were debunked again by our friend Jeremy Hooper at GoodAsYou.org.

Then last night, NOM proudly announced the talent they’d acquired for their big gay-hate fest. Two musical groups were announced, The Lee Boys – a “sacred steel ensemble,” and an adorable celtic fiddle-playing boyband called Ultramontane.

The Lee Boys were set to perform at NOM's anti-gay march until they learned it was an anti-gay march.

The Lee Boys were set to perform at NOM’s anti-gay march until they learned it was an anti-gay march.

This morning, Jeremy Hooper started reaching out. In the first few hours of the day, he discovered that Katie Herzig, the writer of the song used in NOM’s hate march video is actually a big fan of marriage equality. Additionally, NOM stole her song without permission – apparently ignoring one of the Ten Commandments. Katie is now demanding it be taken down.

Following that, it seems the Lee Boys weren’t aware that NOM was an anti-gay group and immediately upon finding out, pulled out of the rally. One band member told Jeremy “Music is about love.”

"Ultramontane" according to NOM's website

“Ultramontane” according to NOM’s website

So what was up with these attractive young men and their fiddles? Jeremy had done enough great work, so I took this one on myself. After googling Ultramontane for hours, I discovered this band clearly didn’t exist. Then Jeremy swooped in again and found the photo NOM had used on another band’s website. It seems this band was known as “Scythian” just moments ago…well 4 out of 5 of them anyway.

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The band, Scythian (which looks alarmingly like the band Utramontane) (from r to l) Ben-David Warner, Alexander Fedoryka, Danylo Fedoryka, Andrew Toy and Josef Crosby.

Why would they change their name and cut that poor sweet boy with the beard out of their little fiddle club? The band had plenty of recent concert dates and upcoming ones as well, had they split up?

Upon further research, it seems they have not split up and actually only 3 of these guys will be playing for the anti-gay march. Alexander Fedoryka, Danylo Fedoryka and Ben-David Warner apparently have no problem aligning themselves with the hate group, while drummer Andrew Toy and Josef Crosby apparently didn’t want any part of the bigoted goings-on.

The band’s representation, Skyline Music LLC released the following statement:

“Like this country, the members of Scythian are divided on the definition of marriage, but, remaining great friends, they have the utmost respect for each other’s’ freedoms of speech and assembly.”

While of course no one can argue that when disagreeing, we should do so respectfully, I can’t help but wonder how Andrew and Josef feel about the other members of the band using their photos to help promote this hate march. Though I hadn’t heard of this group before yesterday, it’s a DC area band I would have loved to see play some time. But after this, I certainly can’t see myself supporting the livelihoods of young men aligning themselves with people who think I’m “worthy of death.”

The band has since removed this photo from their website, assumingly so they won’t be associated with the new anti-gay band “Ultramontane,” but one must wonder if the anti-gay NOM will be the Yoko Ono of Scythian. Apparently NOM isn’t happy just breaking up gay and lesbian families.

UPDATE:

Following an announcement on Friday evening of the band’s intent about the rally (that three members were playing it and 2 were staying out), as of Monday morning their facebook page and twitter accounts have both disappeared.

Before now, none of the band members had publicly acknowledged their support of the LGBT community. But on drummer Andrew Toy‘s facebook page, he replied to one thankful commenter:

“I have always been and will always be an LGBT ally and supporter of marriage equality!”

Thank you, Andrew for your support!

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Why Did Chick-fil-A Cross the Road? Because Being Anti-Gay is Bad for Business

19 Sep

I have a rule. If everyone else is writing about something, I’m more than likely not going to write about it – unless three straight friends personally email me about it. So here it is-

Chicago Alerman Proco “Joe” Moreno made headlines a few months ago when he vowed to block the anti-gay fast food chain, Chick-fil-A from building its second Chicago store. People screamed about the corporation’s right to free speech, etc and attacked Moreno and other lawmakers who were vowing similar challenges. And while legally, no lawmaker can just decide someone can’t do business because of their beliefs – there are other ways of legislatively challenging new businesses from opening. These include discriminatory employment practices among other things. Point being, nothing ever happened and no one stopped any Chick-fil-A’s from selling their horrifically unhealthy chicken sandwiches.

One thing that needs to be made clear here – the reason gay people were up in arms about Chick-fil-A had very little to do with CEO Dan Cathy’s remarks regarding his anti-equality view on marriage. The tremors were caused by Chick-fil-A contributing more than $5 million to virulently anti-gay groups over the past several years. Some of those groups have even been linked to Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill which would mean life in prison and in some cases, execution for being gay. It even went so far as to punish those who didn’t report friends and family for being gay.

Flash forward, dozens of anti-gay groups have now hosted anti-gay “Chick-fil-A Days” and other homophobic actions supporting the chain. One anti-gay group has even gone so far as to declare every Wednesday “Chick-fil-A Day.”

Now it appears through several talks, Alderman Moreno has made some headway with the higher-ups and is declaring victory. It seems Chick-fil-A has agreed to stop funding these anti-gay groups and has sent around an internal memo to all franchisees and stakeholders that says the company must “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect-regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender.”

This is quite clearly a win for us and proves that being anti-gay is bad for business. While we will have to wait to see their tax returns which disclose the groups they contribute to, and while Dan Cathy made a similar claim in January of 2011 that Chick-fil-A and their charitable arm, Winshape will “not champion any political agendas on marriage and family,” I think this is most definitely a win.

Upon revisitation, there are still quite a few things left up in the air that I want to caution about before we run back for our waffle fries:

  • This agreement was made between a Chicago politician and Chick-fil-A’s Director of Real Estate. I’m still trying to figure out what kind of clout a Director of Real Estate might have with regards to Chick-fil-A’s employment or giving practices.
  • The policy that’s being touted as a success is their philosophy that they don’t give to groups with political agendas is one that has been in place since the company was founded – what’s making them stick to that philosophy now and who at Chick-fil-A does the deciding on what is or is not a group with a political agenda.
  • Finally, No one at Chick-fil-A has corroborated or denied the reports in this press release. Until that happens, stick to KFC.

The full statement from The Civil Rights Agenda:

Chick-fil-A Ceases Anti-gay Donations, Clarifies Stance on

Gay Customers & Employees

September 18, 2012 – Chicago, Illinois – The Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA), Illinois’ leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights advocacy organization, has learned that Alderman Moreno has finalized his negotiations with Chick-Fil-A.  Alderman Moreno has confirmed that Chick-fil-A will no longer give money to anti-gay organizations and that they have clarified in an internal document that the company will treat every person equally, regardless of sexual orientation. The Civil Rights Agenda worked closely with the Alderman in an advisory role as he negotiated these concessions with the executives at Chick-fil-A.  Additionally, members of TCRA spoke directly with executives at Chick-fil-A during negotiations to aid in educating their decision makers about anti-discrimination policies and issues affecting the LGBT community.

In a letter addressed to Alderman Moreno and signed by Chick-fil-A’s Senior Director of Real Estate, it states, “The WinShape Foundations is now taking a much closer look at the organizations it considers helping, and in that process will remain true to its stated philosophy of not supporting organizations with political agendas.”  Winshape, a non-profit funded by Chick-fil-a, has donated millions of dollars to anti-LGBT groups, including some classified as hate groups, such as Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage.  In meetings the company executives clarified that they will no longer give to anti-gay organizations.

“We are very pleased with this outcome and thank Alderman Moreno for his work on this issue,” said Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda. “I think the most substantive part of this outcome is that Chick-fil-A has ceased donating to organizations that promote discrimination, specifically against LGBT civil rights.  It has taken months of discussion, both with our organization and with the Alderman, for Chick-fil-A to come forward with these concessions and we feel this is a strong step forward for Chick-fil-A and the LGBT community, although it is only a step.”

Additionally, they have sent an internal memo to franchisees and stakeholders that states that as a company, they will “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect-regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender” and that their “intent is not to engage in political or social debates.”  This statement was placed into an official company document called “Chick-fil-A: Who We Are.”

“Although we are encouraged by their internal statement, we would still like for the company to adopt an anti-discrimination policy at the corporate level,” said Rick Garcia, policy advisor for The Civil Rights Agenda. “It is one thing for a company to say they respect everyone they serve and employ, it is quite another for them to put that into their policies and demand that all employees adhere to that behavior.  As we have heard from gay employees that work for Chick-fil-A, there is a culture of discrimination within the company and we would like to ensure that employees can speak out and call attention to those practices without fear of reprisal. It takes time to change the culture of any institution and steps like a corporate policy ensure that progress is made.”