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.