Metro Weekly

Dueling Rallies

NOM's rhetorical grasping at straws shows that equality is closer at hand than may have been expected

The good thing about dueling rallies is that, if you choose, you can focus on the one that uplifts you rather than the one that seeks to keep you down.

When the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) ”Summer for Marriage” bus tour rolled up to the Capitol for its final stop on Sunday I knew what to expect from it: lots of hate masquerading as love and lots of lies masquerading as facts. And it certainly delivered on those.

Sunday was a day when, for me, it was good to be the boss — I assigned myself to cover ”The Big Commit” rally on Freedom Plaza, where LGBT groups gathered to celebrate the District’s still-new marriage-equality law and commit themselves to keep moving forward until marriage is something to celebrate across the nation, not just a handful of states and cities. Despite the dreary skies that afternoon, it was an uplifting reminder that our community has come a long way, even if there’s still a ways to go.

But in retrospect, it seems that what NOM was doing with its rally at the Capitol speaks just as loudly to why we’re winning now and why we’ll win in the future.

Bishop Harry Jackson, the Maryland-based preacher who wants to speak for the residents of the District, picked up the charge that recognizing same-sex marriages in the name of civil rights is ”stealing” civil rights from others. Conflating the hard-fought-for right to vote with the erroneous idea that a representative democracy gets to vote on the constitutional rights of others is a rather breathtaking display of cynical deception.

By the time he got around to waving a copy of Heather Has Two Mommies, it seemed a little anticlimactic.

Even more telling was NOM President Brian Brown’s speech to the small group assembled with ”Let the People Vote” signs. Brown repeated the now-familiar canard that Judge Vaughn Walker ignored the evidence and the consequences of same-sex marriage when overturning Proposition 8. Declaring that the consequences ”are clear, they are immediate,” Brown went on to describe them. Or, rather, he attempted to.

Basically, NOM is saying that the consequences of marriage equality would be 1) some people will be offended, and 2) churches who take government money to provide adoption services would have to serve homosexual couples.

Nothing there about the horrible, deleterious effects marriage equality would have on actual, real-life heterosexual marriages. Because, as everyone now knows, there is simply no evidence of that. So, Brown simply changes the topic and pretends he hasn’t.

This is not the rhetorical strategy of a movement on the winning track.

Shifting goalposts is a hallmark of NOM and its founder Maggie Gallagher (whose oddly timed vacation kept her away from the climactic moment of her big summer tour). When we overcame the arguments of bigotry in the courts, we were suddenly the beneficiaries of judicial activism. When we worked hard achieve equality through democratically elected legislatures, we were suddenly the architects of back-room deals.

Those are the lies at the heart of NOM.

So it was good to see the honesty of our lives on display on Freedom Plaza on Sunday. As speaker after speaker declared, we will win this fight for equality.

That’s the message that rings true.

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