Oh, Washington Post, Do Please Try Harder

From this morning’s Post:

Questions about the largest contributor [to the anti-marriage equality campaign in Maine] have sparked an investigation by the state ethics commission and a court battle. The National Organization for Marriage, or NOM, has contributed $1.6 million to Stand for Marriage Maine but has declined to reveal its own contributors, despite a federal district court decision last week that it must do so under Maine law.

Some groups for gays say the organization is a stalking horse for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the Mormons, which dominated fundraising in the California campaign. Many of the actors in a nationally televised ad produced by NOM, called “Gathering Storm,” turned out to be Mormon activists.

Weekend calls to the New Jersey-based organization and its attorney were not returned. But Fish said that after the backlash in California against the Mormon Church, its leadership decided not to become directly involved in Maine.

I’m surprised to see the Post pulling this, especially after running that rather silly and much-criticized article about Brian Brown, NOM’s executive director, over the summer. If there is any religious background to which NOM’s leaders subscribe, it’s Catholicism: Brown, President Maggie Gallagher, and Chairman of the Board Robert George all profess devout Catholicism. Indeed, to the best of my knowledge, the only Mormon in a leadership role at NOM is science-fiction writer Orson Scott Card, a recent addition to the Board of Directors who is probably not entirely sane. Making it out to seem as if marriage-equality proponents think NOM is a Mormon conspiracy isn’t entirely fair of the Post, because I think most of us know that’s not true. If we know anything, it’s that NOM is deeply embedded in the Catholic right, and that such is the tradition its leaders come from.

Moreover, I wish some mainstream news organization would get in touch with NOM and determine once and for all where they’re located. First the Post reports that NOM moved out of Princeton, to Philadelphia and then to DC, and now they’re telling us that NOM is still NJ-based. The website still lists a Nassau St. mailing address and a (609) phone number (that’s the Princeton area code), but even during business hours that phone number only ever goes to voicemail. What’s Brian Brown doing in his new H St. offices? How do we contact him there? No one—not even the Post—seems to know.

If the Post has contacts at NOM (and they must do, to have run that profile in August), they have the ability to do much more than make unsourced claims about what “some groups for gays” think. They could actually unravel the tangled web that is the Catholic right and figure out what the hell is going on here. I guess, seeing as this is the Post, that would be too much to ask, but at the very least the paper could stop sowing conspiracy theories about Mormons that I, as an LGBT activist, have never heard espoused by the people I work with.


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