The coalition supporting Maryland’s same-sex marriage law sought Thursday to turn to their advantage the tactics of a leading national group opposed to gay nuptials.
Memos unsealed Monday in a federal court case in Maine detailed a strategy by the National Organization for Marriage to “drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two Democratic constituencies.”
NOM, which helped finance a successful ballot initiative in 2009 overturning Maine’s legalization of same-sex marriage, has also been active in Maryland’s debates on the issue in recent years.
Last year, for example, NOM pledged at least $1 million to help defeat Maryland Republicans who supported same-sex marriage and assist the campaigns of Democrats who opposed it.
On Thursday, Marylanders for Marriage Equality launched a Facebook and Twitter campaign seeking to contrast NOM’s strategy with their effort to “showcase love, commitment and strong families.”
The Maryland coalition also released a statement by Elbridge James, chairman of the Maryland State NAACP Political Action Committee, calling NOM’s tactics “deplorable.”
“Regardless of where you are on this issue, there is no room for racial exploitation,” James said. “The people of Maryland should not be used.”
According to one of the NOM memos, an initiative called the “Not a Civil Right Project” sought to recruit blacks who opposed same-sex marriage to represent the group and then “provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots.”
In response to the unsealing of the memos, Brian S. Brown, president of NOM, said in a statement this week that “gay marriage is not a civil right, and we will continue to point this out in written materials such as those released in Maine. We proudly bring together people of different races, creeds and colors to fight for our most fundamental institution: marriage.”