In a scathing blog post written the day after Rhode Island became the tenth marriage equality state, the radical-right anti-gay organization MassResistance takes National Organization for Marriage to task for “drop[ping] the ball” in the effort to keep marriage discriminatory:
We admire a lot of what the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) does for marriage across the country. But unfortunately in this fight they were clueless and ineffective. We understand that NOM is mostly geared to statewide elections on marriage amendments rather than battles in legislatures. But given the numerous fundraising emails from them mentioning Rhode Island, we should have gotten a lot more back.
NOM seemed to view Rhode Island as an afterthought. When their representative there, Chris Plante, was unfortunately sidelined with medical issues during much of the last several months, NOM didn’t bother to send help. As a result, NOM did no serious organizing or strategic planning. Meetings with activists would be set up, then go unattended.
Instead, NOM acted as the “official” pro-family voice before the Rhode Island media, doing many interviews, etc. And they funded some media advertisements, robo-calls, and email blasts. When public hearings came up, they helped line up quality speakers, but had no NOM representative testify.
However, neither NOM nor anyone else offered any counter to the constant yet absurd refrain that so-called “marriage equality” was a “civil right,” a matter of “equality,” or part of the march of history. As a result, the homosexual activists were given a complete free pass on all that nonsense.
But most annoying was NOM’s insistence on a watered-down “moderate” pro-family message. They supported homosexual civil unions as an alternative to gay marriage. They seemed to go to great lengths not to be “anti-gay” even though homosexuality is the basis of this whole thing. And they curiously supported the proposed bill for a state-wide vote on “gay marriage” as an alternative to this bill. Ultimately, when you have these positions, it’s hard to justify any absolute opposition to “gay marriage” itself.
All in all, it was a terribly one-sided battle which we nevertheless almost won. But we didn’t win.
NOM-RI certainly did act as the official spokes-group for the anti-equality side, signing full-page newspaper ads and sending Chris Plante to appear frequently on Christian and local television and in print news. Plante was even dubbed a RI PowerPlayer by GoLocalProv.
Speaking as the leader of NOM-RI, Chris Plant made a big promise early on in January that indicated assumed leadership. From Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink:
Rhode Island legislators proposed a bill Thursday that could redefine marriage, making it the 10th in the nation to do so.
Christopher Plante, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage-Rhode Island, told CitizenLink he’s confident “that we will be able to beat this.”
I got dropped from NOM-RI’s email list pretty quickly, so besides their April 15 fundraising email, I don’t know how often they may have passed the plate. However, NOM’s main office in Washington, D.C. has certainly used the legislative effort in Rhode Island as a fundraising tool. Since mid-January, NOM has used mention of Rhode Island to help raise funds in at least a dozen emails, including an email sent the day after the Rhode Island Senate took the decisive, bipartisan vote for marriage equality.
What just happened in Rhode Island seems to be the same thing that happened last year in Washington, Minnesota, Maine and Maryland: NOM comes into town, seizes control, sucks up a lot of funds, and loses decisively.