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Group sought wedge between blacks, gays to fight same-sex marriage

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 5:27 AM EDT, Wed March 28, 2012
"The strategic goal ... is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks," says an internal National Organization for Marriage memo.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Group has campaigned against same-sex marriage
  • Memos sought a "wedge" between gays and blacks over issue
  • Organization also wanted traditional marriage to become a "key badge" of Latino Identity
  • Human Rights Campaign decries "ethnically divisive" efforts

(CNN) -- A national group opposed to same-sex marriage aimed to fight it by driving "a wedge between gays and blacks" and identifying "glamorous" Latino artists and athletes to advocate traditional marriage, according to newly released confidential memos.

The strategies were among several pursued by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which has actively campaigned against same-sex marriage efforts.

The Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization, said it obtained the documents, part of a civil action in Maine, on Monday and published them on its website.

"This court-ordered disclosure shows NOM fighting a losing battle with strategy and tactics that are racially and ethnically divisive, filled with false political calculations, and out of touch with the majority of fair-minded Americans," Human Rights Campaign said in a statement.

Most of the memos were written in 2009. The president of NOM did not dispute the authenticity of the memos, saying in an online statement, "Gay marriage is not a civil right."

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The memos highlight several efforts to fight same-sex marriage initiatives, which NOM contended were backed by the "pro-gay Obama agenda."

"The Latino vote in America is a key swing vote, and will be so even more so in the future because of demographic growth," one NOM memo states. "Will the process of assimilation to the dominant Anglo culture lead Hispanics to abandon traditional family values? We can interrupt this process of assimilation by making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity."

Plans included Spanish language radio and TV ads, pamphlets and YouTube videos.

NOM also targeted what it termed "Democratic power bosses" it claimed were inclined to put the interests of gay rights groups "over the values of African-Americans."

"The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks -- two key Democratic constituencies," another memo states. "Find, equip, energize and connect African-American spokespeople for marriage; develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots. No politician wants to take up and push an issue that splits the base of the party."

NOM argued "gay marriage is the tip of the spear, the weapon that will be and is being used to marginalize and repress Christianity and the Church."

The organization said Tuesday it was proud of its "strong record" on minority partnerships.

Brian Brown, president of NOM, touted the group's work with prominent African-American and Hispanic leaders.

"Gay marriage advocates have attempted to portray same-sex marriage as a civil right, but the voices of these and many other leaders have provided powerful witness that this claim is patently false," Brown said in a statement. "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."

NOM has been instrumental in the campaign to stop same-sex marriage laws, including Maine.

Lawmakers there in early 2009 approved a measure legalizing such marriages, but voters in the state later that year passed a referendum to overturn the new law.

An effort is currently under way to put a similar measure on the ballot this coming November. A coalition on Tuesday launched Mainers United for Marriage, which wants Maine to become the first state to win marriage for same-sex couples through a ballot measure.

The release of NOM documents follows the successful 2009 efforts to overturn Maine's same-sex marriage law.

The court case came about after the Maine Ethics Commission opened an investigation based on a fund-raising complaint from Fred Karger of Californians Against Hate. He alleged financial backers of Stand for Marriage Maine were concealing their identities. NOM was a major contributor to Stand for Marriage Maine, a political action committee, documents showed.

NOM, which refused to disclose the names of donors, eventually filed a lawsuit. It claims the commission had limited authority to investigate.

Freedom to Marry, which supports same-sex marriage, blasted NOM's tactics, as outlined in memos that were submitted for depositions.

"NOM has spent years working to drive wedges within communities across the nation, all the while claiming it does not 'hate' anyone, gay or non-gay," said group President Evan Wolfson in a statement. "Now exposure of NOM's own strategy memos confirms that NOM will stop at nothing to push its agenda, pitting American against American, minority against minority, family members against family members."

CNN's Justin Lear, Phil Gast and Stephanie Gallman contributed to this report.

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