The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) bus tour comes to Atlanta on Saturday, Aug. 7. Let me fill you in on this media-hungry anti-gay marriage group.

Its leadership is Catholic but numerous allegations abound that it is an arm of the Church of Latter Day Saints, which contributed massive amounts of money to the passage of Proposition 8 — the ballot measure that amended California’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

Articles in Mother Jones and the Wall Street Journal, among others, have documented this relationship. Founded in 2007, specifically to put Prop. 8 on the ballot in California, NOM has since backed similar measures in Maine, Washington and Iowa. Now the group has taken its show on the road with the “Summer for Marriage Tour.”

‘Summer of Marriage’ tour a bust and a sham

Whether Catholic or Mormon, NOM sets lofty funding goals and uses social media to keep followers informed on almost an hourly basis. As of this writing, NOM had 9,300 Facebook fans.

But few of those fans are turning out for the “One Man, One Woman” marriage tour. Pro-gay marriage protestors have substantially outnumbered the NOM crew in most cities. In Indianapolis on July 26, there were approximately 40 NOMers and 200 gay marriage supporters. Attendance in other cities has been equally low.

On July 29, after an underwhelming rally in Madison, Wisconsin, NOM President Maggie Gallagher blogged with the headline “Gay Marriage Radicals Reach New Low.”
Gallagher tells her minions “they’ve come to our peaceful marriage rallies in city after city to harass and intimidate us…”

“We’ve seen protestors draped in the rainbow flag storm the stage and scream, red-faced into the microphone to prevent our speakers from talking. We’ve seen them bait a five-year-old child, asking her if she’s being raised by her mother to be a bigot. We’ve even heard a gay marriage supporter threaten to kidnap a child in attendance at a rally.”

Gallagher ended her blog with a desperate plea for people to attend the rallies and, oh yes, to send money immediately.

So why are Gallagher and NOM Executive Director Brian Brown attacking gay “radicals” and continuing the unsuccessful tour?

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT political group, issued a press release July 27 calling the NOM tour a “sham” and offered an explanation of the real agenda here.

Far from being an attempt to galvanize opponents of same-sex marriage, it appears NOM is using the rallies to claim that they are the innocent victims of harassment from same-sex marriage proponents. Gallagher’s blog on July 29 and previous blogs on the website ( certainly bear out that claim by HRC.

“The bus tour is a total sham, plain and simple,” said Fred Sainz, HRC’s vice president of communications. “NOM’s highly-touted bus tour is less about so-called ‘traditional marriage’ and more about creating an elaborate and cynical stunt. NOM rolled out a summer of nationwide events in order to draw lawful protesters, all so that NOM and its allies can pepper ongoing lawsuits challenging public disclosure laws with made-up stories of harassment.”

NOM has had a number of legal setbacks recently including an 8-1 decision handed down by the Supreme Court in June. In Doe v Reed, Protect Marriage Washington (a NOM affiliate) claimed that the names of the 130,000 signers of a petition to place a referendum on the ballot in 2009 to overturn a Washington State domestic partnership law are protected by the First Amendment.

But the Supreme Court ruled that petition-signers don’t have a constitutional right to privacy.

On the same day the Supreme Court ruled against NOM, the Maine ethics commission dealt the anti-gay marriage group another blow. It refused to drop an investigation into a complaint that NOM violated state campaign laws by refusing to disclose its donors. That suit is ongoing.

Hence the victim status that NOM has assumed on their so-called marriage tour. In Madison, Brown went so far as to claim equal status with the civil rights movement.

“We’ve taken great pains to make clear what we’re all about. We view ourselves as a new civil rights movement…. committed to something that in the 1960s was key: the right to vote,” he told the very small crowd.

But as HRC concludes: “The bread crumbs of their deceit are clear. … NOM and its allies are making a last-ditch legal stand in Washington and Maine that they should be specially entitled to hide their political activities, and they’re saying that harassment and intimidation should provide them this cover.

“At the same time, Brian Brown schedules a series of virtually unattended weekday afternoon events hoping for counter-protests that they can then use as evidence of harassment and intimidation. Why else would NOM execute such half-hearted non-events and then completely subjugate its so-called ‘pro-marriage’ message in favor of devoting its energies almost exclusively to condemning lawful protesters?”

Why indeed?