Monday, July 19, 2010

Follow the money: do marriage equality opponents really WANT to win?

It has been speculated that the Right doesn't really want to ban abortion; it's far more effective as a political and fundraising boogeyman if Roe v. Wade stays essentially intact.

I am starting to wonder the same thing about marriage equality. What a great rallying cry it is to trumpet the decline of marriage, to decry the activist judges, and bemoan the legislative process as middle-aged gays and lesbians seize the opportunity to join the married bourgeois and pay the marriage penalty.

In campaigns involving tens of millions of dollars, someone, somewhere, is getting rich.

A case in point is George "Lift my Luggage" Rekers, who made a profession of being a witness-for-hire at anti-gay hearings and trials. His employers didn't do so well because not only did he cost them a lot of money (on the order of hundreds of thousands) but his testimony was so over the top that it was routinely dismissed. Still, a lucrative business for Mr Rekers.

Or look at The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), and its CEO Maggie Gallagher with its hidden lists of donors and millions that it spends.

IRS reports from Gallagher's other organization, the "Institute for Marriage & Public Policy" reveal that she pays herself up to 42% of the donations received by that organization. I wonder if the donors know that over 40 cents of every dollar they give go to Ms Gallagher's bank account. This sounds a bit "excessive" by the standards used to judge compensation at non-profits.

Brian Brown is president of NOM and doled out over $160,000 to a consulting firm he runs called "Common Sense America". It shares an office with NOM. It sounds kinda like a giant shell game, doesn't it? Brown and Gallagher each have lucrative deals with a variety of organizations, all intertwined, while the centerpiece of NOM apparently acts as a money-laundering operation for institutional foes of marriage equality. And despite repeated investigations over campaign finance ethics, NOM keeps rolling on.

And the money keeps rolling in from every side....

I think that everyone was surprised at the weakness of the case that the Prop8 defenders put together to defend Prop8. Most pro-equality activists could probably have done better. The bad guys' witnesses managed to make the case for the equality side. Was that intentional? Losing early wouldn't be a problem, and might be a great fund-raising boon. If that's the case, their real triumph was in hiding the trial from public view. I suspect they are pretty confident of winning at SCOTUS but in no hurry to get there. Those of us they attack, who lose rights, and are materially damaged, are just "collateral damage" .

I know that there are many "true believers" in the anti-marriage equality movement. But increasingly I wonder whether they are all puppets to the most cynical puppet-masters, whose interest is not in the topics of social battles, but in the far more American desire to enrich themselves on the backs of those below.

It was the very American PT Barnum who reminded us "There is a sucker born every minute."

Update More on money at Pam's House Blend, pointing out the same logic is used for opponents of the DADT repeal.
In order for the coffers to remain full, gays must be deemed an enemy to be feared. This worked well forty years ago, but America has grown up to find FDR was right - there is nothing to fear but fear itself.

Now, desperate to remain relevant keep the cash flow steady, the religious right must go further and further from the political mainstream to justify their unjustifiable fear of gays. There is just one problem - the more outside the mainstream the religious right ventures, the more ridiculous they look.

1 comment:

Karen said...

I do believe you are on to something.