Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Mark Joseph Stern on NOM's Collapse — "Nothing Left but a Record of Morally Repulsive Smear Campaigns and a Trail of Legal Misconduct"

At Slate, Mark Joseph Stern takes a look at how the National Organization for Marriage, which was once so cocky about its ability to emit an "unremitting stream of noxious nonsense" to get Americans to turn against a minority group NOM depicted as "promiscuous, predatory, diseased, and disordered" has so spectacularly failed. And so quickly. 

Stern's conclusion:

From the get-go, the group has simply refused to play by the rules, displaying a brash disregard of both law and custom. For years, NOM refused to release various financial reports, instead electing to challenge disclosure laws in court—a costly and quixotic quest that the Supreme Court clearly doomed to failure. At every turn, NOM has played dirty, illegally keeping its donor lists secret and actively hiding its fundraising reports from ethics commissions. Its unprecedented campaigns against equality-minded judges represent a shocking encroachment upon judicial independence. And its constant barrage of ad hominem attacks against LGBTQ Americans turned a political campaign into a vicious assault on gay people’s dignity. 
All these tactics worked in 2009. But throughout its brief reign of terror, NOM never considered that its wrongdoing might one day come back to haunt it. Rather than play the long game, the organization chose to bag as many wins as possible while it still had a chance. That was a fine strategy for a while. But as each win is reversed by the judiciary, NOM has nothing left but a record of morally repulsive smear campaigns and a trail of legal misconduct. Rather than stick around and defend a dwindling number of anti-gay holdouts, NOM is stuck paying out fines and fighting off ethics violations. This is how the group can expect to spend its twilight years. At this rate, its impending demise may well come as a relief.  

And now, as NOM implodes, it and groups similar to it (since, as I noted earlier today, citing Damon Linker, Discussing Marriage is full of material from NOM's former chair Robert P. George) want the rest of us to bring "reason and civility to the marriage debate"? Now, when their lack of even the most rudimentary sense of fair play and morality has doomed them to failure, they want to talk about reason and civility?!  

I can just see a friend of mine who is a veteran of the Civil Rights movement, an African-American woman who is also a Catholic theologian, inscribing a half circle in the air with her forefinger, then turning her finger around and inscribing the other half of the circle, while she intones, What goes 'round comes 'round.

P.S. As the National Catholic Reporter gives Phyllis Zagano column space to defend people peddling gross homophobia as Catholic orthodoxy, and since Voice of the Faithful gave Zagano its Catherine of Siena Distinguished Layperson award in 2012, it occurs to me to ask — because Zagano calls for rationality and civility as she defends Sister Jane Laurel Dominic in the article to which the preceding link points— has Phyllis Zagano ever written anything critiquing NOM and its cozy ties to the U.S. Catholic bishops, the Knights of Columbus, and Opus Dei?

As she (and other centrist Catholics) call for rationality and civility in "our" discussion of how gay people get treated in the name of God, has Zagano ever written anything about the serious damage done to her fellow Catholics and fellow human beings who are gay, in the name of orthodox Catholic teaching? About the serious damage done to gay youth by this teaching? Or the serious damage done to families raised by gay couples? 

If readers know of any such statements from Phyllis Zagano, I'd be interested to read them. Perhaps those articles are out there, and if so, I'd be happy to have them shown to me and to be proven wrong in my thinking that they simply aren't there, when a Google search has failed to show them to me.

As may be evident, I've long since grown weary, indeed, of the use of the smokescreens of "rationality" and "civility" by centrist religious journalists dealing with gay issues, who have never taken any time or expended any energy combatting the irrationality and incivility of groups like the National Organization for Marriage, as they lambast what they perceive as irrationality and incivility among those advocating for gay rights — now that the religious right (including the Catholic bishops) is losing its immoral battle against gay people and their human rights.

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