Anti-gay Group Tries to Appear Mainstream by Sponsoring Southern Republican Leadership Conference
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a leading anti-gay group that works to spread misinformation about LGBT Americans and halt the growing momentum surrounding marriage equality, is sponsoring tonight’s GOP presidential debate as part of this year’s Southern Republican Leadership Conference (SRLC). The Southern Poverty Law Center calls NOM “one of the most visible and active anti-gay marriage groups,” and says the organization propagates “known falsehoods” about LGBT people.
CNN will air the debate tonight at 8pm ET. NOM’s sponsorship represents their latest attempt to make their anti-marriage equality views – which do not enjoy broad public support – appear mainstream.
“NOM will stop at nothing to attack LGBT Americans and the right of loving, committed same-sex couples to marry,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “It is worrisome that a group whose sole mission is to spread lies and stir up anti-gay sentiments will likely have a voice at the table in tonight’s presidential debate simply because they’re paying to have their bigoted views appear mainstream.”
NOM’s financial backing of SRLC represents the latest in a string of national moves the anti-gay group is undertaking to make marriage equality more of a wedge issues with voters than it really is. A recent Facebook/Politico poll found that an overwhelming majority of South Carolina primary voters – nearly 76 percent – say the economy is far and away their top concern in Saturday’s vote. Nationally, a majority of Americans – 53 percent – support marriage equality. While a majority support marriage equality, polling shows that many are more worried about jobs and the economy, Medicare and social security, and education.
The Southern Republican Leadership Conference bills itself as “a biennial gathering of leaders of the Republican Party, industry, media, government, and issue groups, held in the winter or spring of election years.”
South Carolina’s primary is just one of many states where NOM is trying to appear more mainstream, despite pushing messages that aren’t palatable to majorities of Americans. They are actively engaged in fighting marriage equality in states like New Jersey, Washington and Maryland, and are vowing retribution against lawmakers in New York who supported last year’s marriage equality victory in the Empire State.