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Jun 09 2014

Say Goodnight, National Organization for Marriage

The National Organization for Marriage has fallen on hard times. Once powerful and effective in preventing equality for LGBT people, it’s now facing serious financial problems and on a huge losing streak in both legislatures and courts. Mark Joseph Stern thinks he hears a funeral dirge starting to play:

This week, a Reagan-appointed federal judge handed the National Organization for Marriage its first major rejection of the month, kicking the anti-gay-marriage group’s IRS lawsuit out of court. NOM, a longtime opponent of disclosure laws, had claimed that the IRS intentionally leaked a contributor list to the pro-gay Human Rights Campaign, using the accusation as a fundraising tool. On Tuesday, however, U.S. District Judge James C. Cacheris slammed NOM’s claim, noting the group’s utter lack of evidence and criticizing its case as “unconvincing” and “unpersuasive.”

This dismissal would be embarrassing enough on its own. Yet 2014 has brought NOM so many defeats that its IRS loss barely made the news. The day after Judge Cacheris’ ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court swatted down NOM’s attempt to halt gay marriage in Oregon, where the attorney general has refused to defend the state’s recently invalidated ban. (Before that, the group tried, and failed, to make a last-minute defense of the law in district court.) These two failures come on the heels of NOM’s most humiliating month yet: In May, the Maine Ethics Commission hit the group with a $50,250 fine for breaking state laws in its 2009 campaign to overturn marriage equality. The commission went on to note that NOM had also likely violated campaign disclosure laws in New Hampshire and Iowa. The Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board is currently investigating the group.

Was it inevitable that NOM would fall apart so quickly? As the organization stumbles toward irrelevance and impotence, it’s easy to forget just how successful and formidable it once was.

I think Maggie Gallagher got out a couple years ago because she saw the handwriting on the wall, leaving Brian Brown to cry into his well-worn Bible. This string of losses almost certainly have crippled their ability to raise money, adding to their already dismal financial situation. And I’m just gonna laugh my ass off about it.

19 comments

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  1. 1
    raven

    The National Organization for Marriage has fallen on hard times.

    1. This could be used as proof that the gods exist.

    2. I’d dance on their grave but only if it was within 50 miles.

    3. But really, it is no big deal. The fundies will just have to dig up one of their other hate targets. Atheists, Moslems, Pagans, children, women, scientists, science, normal people. So many groups to hate, so little time.

  2. 2
    busterggi

    Perhaps their biggest failing was that they did nothing to actually support people who were married and had difficulties. Instead they chose to to be a group of gay-bashers.

    Its almost as if they didn’t really care about marriage at all.

  3. 3
    Michael Heath

    I think there’s one credible hope that would enable conservative Christians to delay equal marriage protection for gays, and that’s the Supreme Court. It still comes to down to man, Anthony Kennedy. And while there’s reason to believe Kennedy would defend gay people’s rights and those of their children, he’s recently been prone to irrational spittle-flecked arguments that favor the Republican agenda, e.g., his opinions on Obamacare.

    I’m not predicting Roberts and Alito would join the bigots side if the Supremes overturn on all the appellate rulings striking down state laws against gay marriage on due process and equal protection grounds. I am saying that where Kennedy goes, so goes the majority; where J. Kennedy isn’t a sure thing.

  4. 4
    marcus

    Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah………
    Where is my ass? Oh yeah.

  5. 5
    dingojack

    Wait now – what’s that I hear NOM? Could it be the World’s Tiniest Violin, playing just for you?!?
    ὂ Dingo
    ٜٜٜ

  6. 6
    Marcus Ranum

    ark Joseph Stern thinks he hears a funeral dirge starting to play:

    If you play “here come the clowns” backwards, is it “there go the clowns”?

  7. 7
    vmanis1

    I don’t really know anything about procedure here, but I wonder what would happen if an appeal got to SCOTUS after an unbroken string of lower-court victories, all upheld at the circuit level (I’m not saying that will happen, only that in theory at least, it could). Would the Court take the case, or would it deny cert on the grounds that there is no controversy here (at least none that got past even a lower court)?

    On a related note, I wonder whether Scalia J. has enough moral integrity to survive the laughter directed at him when the inevitable victory of marriage equality is anchored in his dissent in Windsor.

  8. 8
    dingojack

    Marcus – Were you thinking of this?*
    Dingo
    ——–
    * Sort of the RRWs anthem to the American voters?

  9. 9
    John Pieret

    vimanis 1 @ 7:

    what would happen if an appeal got to SCOTUS after an unbroken string of lower-court victories, all upheld at the circuit level … Would the Court take the case, or would it deny cert on the grounds that there is no controversy here (at least none that got past even a lower court)?

    It’s up to SCOTUS. While disagreement in the Circuits is strong grounds why SCOTUS should hear the case, it is not necessary that they do so; it can turn down almost any case (with certain narrow exceptions). Conversely, they can choose to hear almost any appeal that involves a constitutional issue.

    An interesting aspect is that cert can be granted by a vote of just four justices. If you see the four conservatives grant cert in one of these cases, it probably indicates that they think Kennedy can be persuaded not to “go all the way” and make SSM a constitutional right. If the four “liberal” (really “moderate”) justices vote for cert, they think Kennedy will go their way.

    Roberts is a wild card. While his natural impulse is conservative, he is reportedly very conscious of “his” court’s place in history and he may well not want his name to be mentioned in the same breath as Roger B. Taney and Dred Scott.

  10. 10
    D. C. Sessions

    Don’t forget that Roberts makes a point of being in the majority. If it’s going to be a 5-4, Roberts will switch and make it 6-3 so that he can write the ruling. That way, among other things, he can minimize collateral damage.

    Also, on at least a few occasions, he’s slipped in some material that can be used by Republicans in later cases. That’s how, for instance, the Voting Rights Act ruling got to pretend that there was already precedent in the same direction.

  11. 11
    eric

    Roberts is a wild card. While his natural impulse is conservative, he is reportedly very conscious of “his” court’s place in history and he may well not want his name to be mentioned in the same breath as Roger B. Taney and Dred Scott.

    I generally agree, however IMO he has already shown that he doesn’t have a very good grasp of how history will judge his decisions when his biases become involved. I (optimistically) expect that saying corruption only means quid pro quo corruption and religious coercion only means forcing someone else to pray are two of the most historically idiotic and shameful rulings to come out of the court in the past 50-100 years. They may not be Dred Scott bad, but they may be “top 10″ bad. Point being, I would not expect him to pull the righties to the center on a first amendment case because if what they say aligns with his religious beliefs, he will lose any reasonable sense of how history will judge that ruling.

  12. 12
    grumpyoldfart

    …it’s now facing serious financial problems

    I’ll bet the leaders have no trouble collecting their bonus payments, success fees, and interest free loans.

  13. 13
    John Pieret

    Eric @ 11:

    IMO he has already shown that he doesn’t have a very good grasp of how history will judge his decisions

    Assuming the Circuits follow the trend and uphold the lower court decisions, which have been unanimous so far, I think he will probably see the historical handwriting on the wall. And it would take a really convincing Circuit decision that bucks that trend to make a difference and, given the quality of the anti-SSM arguments offered so far, it’s hard to see how anyone could make a silk purse out of that pig’s ear.

    I suspect he would hate it if SCOTUS knocked down SSM and came back a decade or two later and overturned that decision, the way it did with sodomy laws, especially if it came soon after he retired.

  14. 14
    D. C. Sessions

    The only way Roberts is going to retire is if there’s already a comfortable Republican majority on the Court and a Republican President with a Republican majority in the Senate.

    Otherwise, he’ll retire feet first.

  15. 15
    whheydt

    I saw the underlying article on Slate. Unless i missed a further appeal, the article errs on stating who NOM was slapped down by over Oregon. What I saw was that the 9th Circuit turned down their attempt to appeal on the grounds that they lacked standing and citing the SCOTUS “decision” in the Prop. 8 case from California. (Which, to my mind shows the the silver lining in that particular cloud).

    Re: Michael Heath:
    Your comment reads as if you have seen some appelate decisions already. Since I’m unaware of any that have be handed down, perhaps you could enlighten me as to which circuits have done so to date. (I know that there have been at least two sets of oral hearings–Utah and Virginia–but I haven’t heard of any action past that.)

  16. 16
    whheydt

    One more minor note on the whole SSM situation… I have heard claims that a case to overturn anti-SSM laws in North Dakota has been filed. ND was the last state where no challenge had been mounted.

  17. 17
    Atheist Quotes

    Articles like this make me smile.

  18. 18
    Michael Heath

    whheydt writes:

    Your comment reads as if you have seen some appelate decisions already.

    No. But with the exception of the Mormon federal district judge who ruled against gay marriage at the state level (that ruling might have been pre-Windsor though it was horribly argued), all the federal district court rulings have been very consistent in their rulings and the basis of their respective rulings. So there’s been a near-monolithic consensus at the district court level on the meaning of the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment, and what the Windsor opinions argue.

    No surprise there, the language is clear in the Constitution and the arguments horrendous from conservative Christian bigots and their allies. However we know that will not necessarily stop the conservatives on the Supreme Court from overturning all these rulings, especially Thomas, Scalia, most likely Alito, and Roberts if Kennedy joins the conservatives.

  19. 19
    whheydt

    Re: Michael Heath @#18:

    Okay. I didn’t think any of the circuit courts had ruled yet (though I expect that to start happening any month now…)

    FYI…adding to the equal treatment and due process arguments, the case filed in North Dakota is using the “right to travel” clause of the 14th Amendment to argue for ND recognizing out of state same-sex marriages.

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