The National Organization for Marriage just suffered an embarrassing loss in an Iowa special election which would have allowed the organization to challenge marriage equality in the state had its candidate won.

According to the Iowa Independent, NOM spent over $30,000 pushing Republican candidate Cindy Golding in a special election for a state senatorial seat.

But it wasn’t enough because Golding came up short against Liz Mathis – 44% to 56% of the vote.

NOM sought to make the election a referendum about marriage equality, a strategy which may have backfired on the group.

It’s too early to tell why Golding lost – even though Mathis was leading in the polls – but when it’s all said and done, this election was probably decided by a mysterious robocall which all but sank Golding’s chances:

No one knows who the group is behind the robocall but at press time, NOM is already whining about the call being a dirty trick which served to undermine Golding.

Had Golding won, state Republicans would have had enough votes to send a referendum on marriage equality to the voters.  In 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court made a ruling which legalized gay marriage in the state.