When asked directly by Joe Siegel back in 2009 if NOM-RI is a hate group, Christopher Plante, who runs the local affiliate of the anti marriage equality group NOM (National Organization for Marriage) said, “I don’t believe that at all. Do I think that there are extreme people on both sides of the movement that can say hateful things? Absolutely. NOM is here to defend marriage, to protect it, and to encourage it.”
In recent months, as marriage equality in Rhode Island edges ever closer to passage and NOM becomes more desperate, Plante has become less picky about being seen as a hate group. As I have documented time and again, Plante has teamed up with Brian Camenker of MassResistance, an actual, certified Southern Poverty Law Center hate group. The Faith Alliance, which includes both NOM-RI and MassResistance as key members, is a coalition of several anti-marriage equality groups including Latino evangelical church leaders, the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Diocese of Rhode Island.
To give them the benefit of a doubt, it is quite possible that the leaders of the various groups were unaware of the extreme nature of Camenker and MassResistance. Christopher Plante and NOM-RI however, can no longer claim ignorance as their defense.
Zack Ford, writing for ThinkProgress, reports, “In a recent Tea Party Unity conference call, Brian Camenker of the anti-gay hate group MassResistance challenged NOM President Brian Brown about this selective language use, asking why NOM doesn’t just admit that homosexuality is a ‘perversion.'”
On the call, Camenker was upset that NOM’s strategy in court focuses on the value of traditional marriage and does not include attacks on LGBTQ relationships as being illegitimate and “perverse.” Camenker is essentially calling on NOM to embrace anti-LGBTQ hate speech as a tactic.
NOM President Brian Brown, a staunch Catholic, is not adverse to the idea on principle, but his strategy is all about the courts, and as he puts it, “…it’s not likely that a stronger argument about homosexuality is really going to shift [Supreme Court Justice] Kennedy.”
Still, Brown does not advise Camenker to tone down his hateful rhetoric. Instead, Brown encourages Camenker’s actions, saying, “…different groups need to do different things, not all groups have to do the same thing. So folks that are taking a harder line in focusing more on homosexuality, there need to be different groups doing different things.”
As Ford points out, “If NOM is encouraging other groups to be harsher opponents of homosexuality just so it can save face, it’s no less responsible for it in the end.”
I would add that locally, here in Rhode Island, all the members of the Faith Alliance can be held equally responsible for the anti-LGBTQ lies being spread at the Judiciary Committee meetings held at the General Assembly recently. More than one witness based their testimony on Camenker’s pamphlet What same-sex “marriage” has done to Massachusetts a hateful collection of lies and partial truths written by Camenker and distributed at the large anti-LGBTQ rallies held in the State House rotunda and distributed to every member of the General Assembly by MassResistance.
The anti-LGBTQ coalition here in Rhode Island hides behind their “traditional values” rhetoric even as it encourages and wallows in Camenker and Plante’s hateful attacks on same-sex families and LGBTQ individuals. Such behavior is grossly inappropriate and calls into question the true motives of everyone involved with the Faith Alliance. Indeed, keeping company with bigots may lead other leaders of anti-LGBTQ groups to start telling lies themselves.