Debunking NOM's Craziest Ads

If you've been listening so far, every week you've heard me read one chapter of my book, Defining Marriage: Voices from a Forty-Year Labor of Love. Well as of this week, We reached the end of the book -- which means that if you'd like to hear it, you can jump back and listen to the first 18 episodes in order. Or you can pop over to Amazon and get the book as a digital download, or now in paperback!

So what happens with the podcast? Well, starting with this episode, I'll be revisiting the marriage work that I did as an reporter and activist over the last decade. I've gathered some historical news clips, as well as interviews I conducted, and analysis from the dark days of marriage inequality. I'll play them for you, and then afterwards, I'll pop back in to talk about what was happening back then, which predictions came true and which were a little off the mark, and what's changed in the intervening years.

Let's start with three debunking videos. There was a period when the National Organization for Marriage was putting out a ton of commercials on TV and on the radio. They were, of course, full of lies. But unfortunately, NOM was really good at lying.

So as a nerdy gay with a YouTube channel, I took NOM's campaign as a personal challenge: how can I take something that sounds reasonable and show people that they're being lied to? And more importantly -- can I make NOM stop doing that?

The first clip you'll hear is from 2010. Federal Judge Vaughn Walker had just ruled the Proposition 8 was unconstitutional, and NOM was pissed. So they put out a radio ad to justify Prop 8 and attack Judge Walker. Here it is.

Hey, it's Matt in 2015 again. Reflecting back on that 5-year old video, a couple things strike me. The first is that, although you can't see this on the podcast, I had a lot more hair, and tragically, completely failed to style it before it left me. Oh well.

But perhaps more importantly -- did you hear how absolutely crazy NOM's lies were? Even back then, in order to justify Prop 8, they had to completely make up facts and misrepresent the contents of the ruling. You'll hear the same thing in this next NOM ad from 2011. Back then, the Justice Department announced that they would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act, and once again nom was PISSED. So they did what they always do: lie. Here's my debunking from 2011:

Okay, it's me in 2015 again. Well times sure have changed. Two years later, the Supreme Court agreed with the Obama administration -- and many of the politicians who were responsible for DOMA in the first place -- and overturned the Defense of Marriage Act. What strikes me about this ad is how NOM repeatedly conflates DOMA with marriage. It's as if, in their minds, DOMA and heterosexual marriage are the same thing. Like you can't have marriage if you don't have DOMA. Well we've been without it for a couple years now, and it sure does seem like straight people are still getting married. So THAT'S a relief.

Also at the end of NOM's ad, they ask you to go to I was curious about what DefendDOMA is, so I checked it out. Sure enough, it doesn't appear to have been updated since 2011. Their Twitter link is broken. NOM's link to sign a petition no longer works. And when you click on "Donate," you get an error message that says "unavailable." That's a real shame.

Finally let's take a look at a NOM video from October of 2012. It features a narrator explaining in meticulous detail why it's OK to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples, and it's one of NOM's most polished an also most desperate videos. Although we didn't know it at the time, NOM had good reason to be desperate when they put this video out.

And we're back to 2015. I remember that being a particularly exhausting video to make, in part because of the density of misleading information. Remember, this was October of 2012, and NOM was getting desperate. Four states were about to vote on marriage equality -- Washington, Maryland, Maine, and Minnesota -- and although voters had rejected the freedom to marry in dozens of states in years past, for the first time ever, it was looking like the queers might actually win in 2012.

So this ad was part of a NOM strategy to reassure voters, no, don't worry, it's ok to discriminate. But of course they were fighting a losing battle at this point, and must have known it. Multiple polls showed a majority of Americans supported the freedom to marry. And sure enough, a month later, voters in all four states rejected NOM's ballot measures.

Strangely enough, they haven't made any videos since then. I'd like to take full responsibility for that. You're welcome, America.

Next week I'm going to take a look at some more debunking videos -- the clips we heard today were all national fights, but next week's will dissect the lies that NOM was spreading state by state. That includes the organization's brief and inexplicable obsession with a moose.

Until then, listeners, please do get in touch and let me know your thoughts and questions on Twitter -- I'm @mattbaume. And leave a review on iTunes, those reviews make a huge difference. 

Don't forget to hop over to Amazon to get Defining Marriage in print or via download. And if you do pick up a copy, it would mean a lot if you could leave an Amazon review with your honest opinion.

And check out my other podcast, The Sewers of Paris, for revealing personal stories about the entertainment that changed the lives of gay men.

Until next time, friends… by the power vested in me by the internet, I now pronounce this podcast over.

In Your Arms Kevin MacLeod ( 
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