Friday, February 22, 2013

A Prediction for 2013: NOM and Other U.S. Anti-Gay Groups Will Astroturf Anti-Gay Demonstrations Outside U.S.

Brian Brown of National Organization for Marriage at French Anti-Gay Protests, Jan. 2013

As 2013 moves along, I'm going to go out on a limb and make a prediction about the year ahead: I'm going to predict that we'll be seeing quite a few more of the astroturfed, faux-populist anti-gay-rights demonstrations that have now taken place in France and Puerto Rico in this new year. As Zack Ford reported last month at Think Progress, the apparent success of the French protests "seems to reflect the influence of American groups more than anything." And I have no reason to think that things are different with the recent Puerto Rican protest--that is, that it was primarily an astroturfed event behind which stand the big dollars of anti-gay groups in the U.S. who have made an industry of fostering anti-gay prejudice.

As Ford notes, Brian Brown, the head of the virulently anti-gay (and largely Catholic-oriented) anti-gay American group was in France for the French demonstrations, and NOM has announced that it now wants to bring these "popular" protests back to the U.S. in the coming year. Jeremy Hooper of the Good As You website, who does outstanding work dogging the steps of NOM, has managed to discover that a website central to the French protests, which calls for a popular referendum on gay marriage, was actually created by NOM--by an American anti-gay group whose name itself tells us that it regards national protest against tay rights within the U.S. as its objective!

NOM's fingerprints are all over the recent French protests, which means that NOM's hidden deep-pockets donors, whose identity NOM persistently refuses to disclose, are using their considerable resources to export American-style homophobic prejudice and discrimination overseas, something that Jeff Sharlet and Rachel Maddow have been carefully tracking for some time now in the case of Uganda and other African nations.

Why are the undisclosed major funders of NOM and other right-wing anti-gay groups in the U.S. taking these steps to try to stir up anti-gay sentiment in other parts of the world? In my view, they're doing so for a number of reasons:

1. First, they sense that they are losing this part of culture war in the U.S., and they have no choice now except to look for other parts of the world in which to do their dirty work.

2. Second, when protests like the French or Puerto Rican events can be successfully astroturfed elsewhere, groups like NOM can then use them to obtain media coverage in the U.S. which suggests that there's widespread popular opposition to gay rights in other parts of the globe--even when polls indicate, as they do in France, that no such opposition exists. NOM and other anti-gay groups in the U.S. can use demonstrations for which they've bought and paid in other places as templates and springboards for continued protest in the U.S.--as, for instance, NOM's planned protest next month in front of the Supreme Court, for which the group has just had yet another mysterious $500,000 donation

One of the clenching arguments that anti-gay right-wing religionists and others have been able to use persistently up to now to bash those promoting gay rights, especially the right of civil marriage, in the U.S. has been the argument that, put to a popular vote, gay rights always lose. As Matthew Franck of the William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton wrote smugly in the Washington Post back in December 2010

In 30 states, the people have protected traditional marriage by constitutional amendment: In no state where the question has been put directly to voters has same-sex marriage been adopted by democratic majorities. 

In the fall 2012 elections, folks like Franck lost the ability to use that smug, gloating argument any longer, didn't they? NOM and its allies are aware that they are on the losing end of history's moral arc, and they're desperate to find new ways to make it appear that they have a wide and deep popular support that they don't, in fact, enjoy.

They're not above spending big dollars to create bogus "popular" demonstrations that appear to vindicate their claim that they enjoy the support of the majority of citizens in democratic societies in which trusted polling sources report growing support for gay rights, including the right of civil marriage--and in which these sources report that support for gay rights is especially strong among younger citizens, who represent the future of their democracies.

So, as I say, I'm going to go out on a limb and predict more of the kind of demonstrations we've seen early this year in France and Puerto Rico, as 2013 proceeds. Groups like NOM need these manufactured expressions of popular anti-gay discontent in order to try to keep alive their increasingly desperate counterfactual argument that they represent the beliefs of a majority of citizens in the U.S. and Europe. They need these astroturfed demonstrations as talking points, as they mount demonstrations in the U.S. designed to influence the Supreme Court decisions about DOMA and proposition 8.

I went out on a limb early in 2011, and predicted that we'd see the religious right and Catholic officials begin to beat the drum of phony religious freedom rhetoric in a big way in that year, and boy, did I turn out to be right about that prediction! It will be interesting to see if events in 2013 bear out my prediction about these bought-and-paid-for anti-gay demonstrations in various places in the world.

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