In the hole, still digging
Now that they have filed it, we know why. They ended the year in the red. Most people are reporting that they are a million dollars in the hole, but it’s worse than that. Their actual form shows them $2,731,302 dollars in the negative. Some news sites are using the $1,000,000 figure because the organization took a loan of about 1.6-million dollars from its so-called “education” arm. Which may prompt more legal action, since that might not be legal. Because the educational arm raises money as a tax-deductible religious organization, and those funds can’t legally be spent on political activities. NOM spent a rather huge amount of money failing to stop Marriage Equality referendums in Maine, Maryland, and Washington state last year. Not to mention paying its leaders generous salaries. Its president, Brian Brown, was paid his full $230,000 salary, while supposedly-retired president, Maggie Gallagher, was paid $160,000.
The money, and specifically how almost no one is donating to them any longer, is only half the the mystery here. The other half is, what do they think they can accomplish now?
Even very conservative editorialists have pointed out that even if they forced congress to pass a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage, there aren’t enough states left to ratify such an amendment.
To amend the constitution, 38 states must ratify the amendment. Since 16 states now have full marriage equality, it might technically look as if they are only four states shy of being mathematically conceivable, but that number is misleading. Two states that currently ban marriage equality because of their own constitional bans, have gotten far enough in the process of re-amending their constitutions that it is clear neither state would ratify a federal amendment.
As the conservative columnist I linked to above asked:
It’s no longer a matter of judicial activism, but a sea change in public opinion that is propelling the legal shift. How many contests does NOM lose before it — or its donors — figures out the argument is not going to carry the day?
My first cynical thought was, “As long as they can scrape together enough donations to cover those six-figure salaries, they won’t figure out anything.”
I know that there’s more to it than that. I’ve seen and heard enough from Brian Brown and Maggie Gallagher, at least, that I’m convinced they are true believers. Delusional, yes, but sincere. And I really do mean delusional. Gallagher in a recent interview seemed absolutely serious when she claimed that the vast majority of Americans oppose marriage equality, and the vast majority of Americans know that if we “redefine” marriage as a kind of romantic, intimate, loving, caretaking relationship for adults, that’s going to cause great harm to a lot of children.
She’s made that last claim many times over the years, though she has never, not once, presented the slightest shred of an explanation of how thinking of marriage as a romantic, intimate, loving, caretaking relationship between two adults hurts children.
Another one of their associates was on a radio program a few months ago, really angry about one of the states whose legislatures had just passed marriage equality. He ranted about how that should have been put to a vote of the people, but “the gays don’t want that, because every time it has been put to a vote, gay marriage has lost.” Apparently he erased from his mind the fact that in three states last year it was put to a vote of the people, and in all three states “gay marriage” won.
Since on that same night the voters of Minnesota rejected a state constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage, and by a wide enough margin that state legislators passed a marriage bill this year, I think we can say that now at least four times it has won.
Heck, until a couple of weeks ago, the banner image on NOM’s website featured a map of the U.S. that still showed California as a state where same sex marriage was banned.
One last thing: the last time I wrote about how bad the fundraising was going for the anti-gay marriage folks, someone felt the need to point out that “as long as they can keep scaring the white haired church ladies into sending in part of their social security check, they’ll have enough money.” Well, that stopped happening awhile ago. This last year, 60% of NOM’s donations came from just three of their anonymous donors who each gave more than a million bucks. another 30-some percent comes from donors who gave $5,000 or more. It’s been a few years since the bulk of their donations came from thousands of donors chipping in small amounts.
That truth became obvious in 2011 during their so-called Summer of Marriage bus tour. Not only at nearly every stop did the number of pro-gay rights protestors outnumber the crowd, but quite often the speakers from the bus outnumbered the crowd. 2010 and 2011 were the years that they fought hardest against campaign-spending disclosure laws, as well (they’re still refusing to turn over donor lists for those years). The simplest explanation for that refusal is that there is something to hide in those lists.
And I think one of the somethings is just how few people support them. It’s lonely being a hater.