Lobbyist and NC Values Coalition Executive Director Tami Fitzgerald promised a “positive” campaign when she announced the formation of a new anti-gay referendum committee last week.
“We are going to keep it on a positive note: keeping marriage as marriage and keeping it from being redefined,” Fitzgerald told Raleigh’s News & Observer.
The new committee, Vote for Marriage NC, will work to support the passage of an anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment banning marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships for same-sex couples.
But, the coalition behind the group includes several organizations known for the exact opposite of the kind of “positive” campaign Fitzgerald said she seeks.
Among the groups affiliated with the new Vote for Marriage NC is the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). The group has been involved in several high-profile marriage initiatives, including California’s 2008 Proposition 8 and Maine’s 2009 Question 1. Additionally, NOM took a high-profile stance against New York’s legislative push to approve marriage equality there this year.
In past campaigns, NOM has been caught pushing obvious misinformation, lies and spin.
This year, the group came under fire for misrepresenting supposed “legal scholars” opposed to marriage equality. Each of the several scholars cited by the organization were extremely biased and one, Robert George, is a former NOM board chairman.
Also this year, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Politifact knocked the group for their repeated claims that legalization of same-sex marriage in New York would lead to kindergarteners learning about same-sex relationships.
One of NOM’s first campaigns featured a billboard comparing a marriage equality supporter to Judas and Benedict Arnold. The group reincarnated the theme this year for mailers targeting pro-gay legislators in New York.
Mum’s the word
NOM has been tight-lipped about their plans for North Carolina. According to one watchdog gay blogger, the national anti-family group’s silence thus far is questionable given the group’s traditionally outspoken nature. NOM has been especially active in Minnesota, which also faces an anti-LGBT amendment threat this year.
“I’ve noticed that everyone in North Carolina has been quiet,” Jeremy Hooper of GoodAsYou.org told qnotes. “In Minnesota, the opposition is very engaged with a strong web presence and all that we’re used to. But North Carolina has been suspiciously quiet.”
Hooper said NOM’s recent reticent nature is likely a sign they are still developing strategy.
“In Minnesota, they’re going heavily Catholic. In Maryland, it’s the African American church. And so on and so forth,” he said. “I’d guess they’ve been trying to find their specific North Carolina direction, other than just white evangelical, which seems to be forefront in North Carolina’s opposition movement.”
Hooper’s analysis isn’t too far off the mark. The most outspoken proponents of the anti-LGBT amendment have largely come from white, Protestant and evangelical circles.
Last month, the N.C. Baptist State Convention unanimously approved support for the amendment.
“I believe the bible makes it clear,” Harris told qnotes. “The bible introduces marriage as between one man and one woman.”
The N.C. Baptist Convention is among the groups forming the Vote for Marriage NC committee.
Searching for an angle
How NOM goes about instituting their campaign strategy is a question still left unanswered. McEwen said the group’s past rhetoric and actions provide some clues.