I will begin with an explanation for my lack of activity on April 11. I did not write on that day to do what I could for the Day of Silence, a protest against anti-LGBT bullying.
Brian Brown is getting more and more worked up about the Mozilla controversy. He begins his latest blog post, “They’re Lying Again.” (stay tuned for a history of NOM’s lies), with a critique of Slate writer Mark Joseph Stern’s article reminding people how horrible the campaign to pass Prop 8 was.
At Slate last Friday, columnist Mark Joseph Stern — who "covers science, the law, and LGBTQ issues" — writes about Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich's resignation and the Proposition 8 campaign, in an article that undoubtedly deals with LGBTQ issues but seems uninformed by science and misinformed about the law. The article is also fast and loose with the facts about the campaign to which Mr. Eich donated $1,000.00 in 2008.Mr. Schubert, I will not hold NOM personally accountable for the ad campaigns that it did not produce. But the three ads referenced by Stern were indeed part of the Prop 8 campaign. They were produced by people who actively worked to ensure the passage of Prop 8. They were part of the movement and activism for Prop 8, even if NOM did not make those ads personally.
Stern's piece — entitled "Just a Reminder: The Campaign for Prop 8 Was Unprecedentedly Cruel" — bears this central thesis:[I]t's easy to forget the vicious tactics of the pro-Prop 8 campaign. Or, I should say, it's easy to forget them if you're not gay — because almost every gay person I know remembers the passage of Prop 8 as the most traumatic and degrading anti-gay event in recent American history.Stern supports this thesis with four clips from advertisements supposedly run by the campaign to pass Prop. 8, charging ahead to the conclusion that "The campaign's strategy was to debase gay families as deviant and unhealthy while insinuating that gay people are engaged in a full-scale campaign to convert children to their cause. This strategy worked."
The tactics used by pro-Prop 8 campaigners were not merely homophobic. They were laser-focused to exploit Californians' deepest and most irrational fears about gay people, indoctrinating an entire state with cruelly anti-gay propaganda.
But is this conclusion valid? Is the evidence admissible? Or is Mr. Stern engaged in his own underhanded campaign to mischaracterize and misrepresent historical facts?
Frank Schubert, NOM's National Political Director, had the following to say about Stern's piece — and you'll notice from his first sentence that he speaks as one very qualified to address the matter:I managed the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign and am intimately familiar with the advertising. With the exception of the ad featuring the Pepperdine professor, all the other examples cited by [Mr. Stern] as Prop 8 ads are in fact NOT Prop 8 ads. They were not produced by the campaign, the campaign had nothing to do with them and they never aired on television. They were produced by various individuals on their own and were videos that they distributed with no involvement from the campaign. This is a normal thing in any major campaign like Prop 8. Certainly President Obama cannot be held accountable for the content of independent videos that were produced by individual supporters of his election, and the same holds true for our campaign.
Mr. Schubert, you seem to be trying to shirk responsibility for what the campaign did. Let me remind you. The following message is for the people who actively campaigned for Prop 8. It is not for the ordinary citizens who didn’t campaign for it but voted for it. While they were ignorant, their ignorance is understandable. They were fed lies and fear-mongering for six months.
This is the message:
You people waged a six-month propaganda campaign designed to make LGBT people look as bad as Hitler. You peddled every lie, stereotype and false rumor about them known to man. You exposed them to countless messages of how their families and relationships would destroy California. You exploited existing prejudices and fears about them to achieve your goal of write discrimination against them into California’s Constitution. In short, you caused them immeasurable pain, suffering, grief and anguish.
Is that hard to live with? I hope so, because it should be.
As to the ad featuring the Pepperdine professor, it was a true and correct ad that included citations to support its contentions [emphasis added].PolitiFact has rated the claim made in the ad “False”.
This is an important insight because it brings fluttering down the entire house of cards Stern has built up as a rationale for why Brendan Eich's resignation (for all intents and purposes, a compelled resignation) is somehow justifiable.Except nowhere in the article does Stern justify Eich’s resignation. His point is that what he did is not merely hold a personal belief in opposition to marriage equality. He contributed to one of the most harmful anti-LGBT campaigns in the country’s history.
In another wonderful piece published this week on the Eich controversy, the Heritage Foundation's Ryan Anderson cites President Obama as an example of another point:First of all, I have no problem declaring that President Obama’s 2008 view on marriage equality was bigotry, in that he thought that it was acceptable to deny rights based on his personal beliefs about marriage. But President Obama did not actively contribute to discrimination against LGBT people. He voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment. He endorsed the repeal of DOMA in 2008, even while opposing marriage equality. While he did have a bigoted belief, he did not actively harm anyone.
The outrageous treatment of Eich is the result of one private, personal campaign contribution to support marriage as a male-female union, a view affirmed at the time by President Barack Obama, then-Sen. Hillary Clinton, and countless other prominent officials. After all, Prop 8 passed with the support of 7 million California voters.Obviously, the answer to Ryan's rhetorical question is an emphatic "NO." As Ryan says, "The debate over the meaning and purpose of marriage will continue. We should conduct it in a civil manner. Bullies may win for a while, but theirs is a scorched-earth policy. They poison democratic discourse and fray the bonds on which democracy itself ultimately depends [emphasis added]."
So was President Obama a bigot back when he supported marriage as the union of a man and woman? And is characterizing political disagreement on this issue — no matter how thoughtfully expressed — as hate speech really the way to find common ground and peaceful co-existence?
Secondly, calling us bullies, accusing us of a scorched-earth policy and of poisoning democratic discourse for something that we did not do (Eich resigned voluntarily and the anti-Mozilla effort was led by OKCupid, not LGBT rights activists) is not exactly civil.
The leader in the public effort to remove Mr. Eich for his contribution to the Prop 8 Campaign was the online dating site OkCupid. OkCupid was among the first to call for Mr. Eich's resignation and for the public to remove Firefox from their computers.I'm glad that NOM has finally correctly identified who was responsible for the anti-Mozilla protests. It was not the LGBT community or its allies. The boycott was led by OKCupid. But until they apologize to the LGBT community for a) falsely blaming them for the Mozilla boycott and b) describing them with extreme vitriol, I will not be satisfied.
However, among the misremembered details in this story is that Sam Yagan, co-founder and CEO of OkCupid donated $500.00 to the congressional campaign of Chris Cannon in 2004. Mr. Cannon is a supporter of traditional marriage, having supported a constitutional amendment to define marriage as one man and one woman when he was in Congress.
In the following blockquote, the emphasis is added:
How can one justify that Mr. Yagan has kept his post while supporting traditional marriage and Mr. Eich has not? You can't. The radical advocates of redefining marriage are hypocrites, remembering only the details of history that further their cause. If supporters of traditional marriage are wounded in the process, all the better.First of all, I seriously did not know that until now. And I’m sure that the same is true of many others.
Secondly, Slate’s Jamelle Bouie points out the difference between Eich and Yagan:
Yes, it’s entirely possible that Yagan’s donation was in support of Cannon’s anti-gay votes. But it’s also possible that Yagan—then, as now, a wealthy businessperson—was donating in support of Cannon’s conservative record on taxes and regulation. Indeed, Yagan also donated to Barack Obama in 2007, when the then-senator was a noted opponent of same-sex marriage. Is this evidence of Yagan’s anti-gay sympathies? Or was he giving in support of Obama’s other positions?Thirdly, NOM is adding even more violent rhetoric to their archives, saying that it is “all the better” for “radical advocates of redefining marriage” “if supporters of traditional matters are wounded in the process”. The word “wounded” has connotations of war and horrific injuries, and to say we want that for equality opponents is dangerously irresponsible.
Barring a statement from Yagan himself, it’s impossible to know. Support for a politician isn’t the same as support for an issue. It can be—odds are good that a Rand Paul donor has strong feelings on civil liberties—but it’s hard to know for sure. After all, most politicians have a wide array of interests and concerns, and a donation might be in support of any one of them. In the absence of any other information, a donation to Cannon in 2004 (or to Obama in 2008) says nothing about Yagan’s stance on a particular issue.
By contrast, Brendan Eich gave to a single-issue campaign. No one supports activists for the sake of supporting them—you do so to show your beliefs and priorities. Believe what you want about Yagan, but based on the evidence we have, there’s no comparing his donation to Eich’s. The former is ambiguous, the latter completely clear.
There’s not much else that’s worth pointing out, other than the very last paragraph (emphasis added):
You have a voice. Together, let's show the bullies and thugs who want to censor our pro-marriage views that your voice is not alone — that it is, in fact, many millions strong — and that it simply will not be silenced.I guess Brian needs to look up the definition of the word “civil”.
5:28 AM PT: I received an analytical criticism in a comment. The comment and my response is here:
"So, in your view, a political campaign is to be blamed for ads that it did not sponsor or run?"
I do not blame NOM for the Prop 8 ads that it did not produce. But I do blame the Prop 8 campaign for the ads that the Prop 8 campaign produced. Even if NOM didn't create an ad, that doesn't mean it wasn't part of the campaign.
"Meanwhile, because Mr. Eich contributed to that campaign, he is to be run out of his job by a threatened boycott of his company. But because he resigned instead of being fired "he left voluntarily" and so the activists who called for his head are not responsible."
Because he resigned, he left voluntarily. That is correct. The activists who called for his head influenced his decision to resign, but ultimately, it was still his decision.
"And, BTW, the grassroots LGBT activists are not responsible for the boycott because it was joined by OKCupid."
LGBT activists are not responsible for the boycott because LGBT activists were not the ones boycotting.
"Therefore, OKCupid is responsible for Mr. Eich being fired,"
I never said that Eich was fired. At one point, I refer to "Eich's resignation".
"which he was not because he resigned voluntarily."
He was not fired. He did resign voluntarily. But once again, I never said that he was fired.
8:27 PM PT: You can view my list of NOM's lies here: