Organization advocates against same-sex marriage
In an effort to fulfill what they perceived as a need for a national conservative organization devoted solely to marriage issues, politics professor Robert George and conservative author Maggie Gallagher founded the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) in 2007. Since then, the group has been working to provide an organized platform through which opponents of gay marriage can convey their views to local and state legislatures.
NOM is currently active in California, where a proposed amendment on the ballot in November would overrule the State Supreme Court’s recent ruling recognizing the legitimacy of same-sex marriages. It also lists New Jersey as a “national battleground in the same-sex marriage debate, as activists push new legislation which would recognize same-sex marriages in New Jersey.”
NOM, a 501 (c)(4) nonprofit organization, seeks to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. “NOM pursues its mission mainly by public education and advocacy on behalf of the conjugal conception of marriage as the permanent and exclusive union of husband and wife,” George said. It encourages its members to e-mail legislators in opposition to legislation supporting gay marriage.
George and Gallagher, both longtime advocates of the movement to keep marriage a heterosexual institution, worked together at the Institute for American Values.
“Both of us have been longstanding critics of policies and practices that we believe have weakened the institution of marriage and the marriage culture,” George, who is chairman of the NOM’s board of directors, said in an e-mail. He cited examples “such as unilateral ‘no fault’ divorce, premarital cohabitation, and the derogation of the virtue of chastity and traditional principles of sexual morality” as evidence to support his beliefs.
LGBT Center Director Debbie Bazarsky said in e-mail that though the LGBT Center is not involved with any legislation, “[w]e have had a number of programs to discuss the numerous different perspectives about same-sex marriage in the LGBT community. There are quite a few Princeton students and staff who have been personally involved with marriage equality.”
One of the fundamental points of NOM’s argument is that “gays and lesbians have a right to live as they choose, [but] they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us,” according to the organization’s website.
Bazarsky called this message “offensive and homophobic.”
While many of NOM’s efforts are focused on the Northeast and West Coast, NOM is also active “where its resources permit promoting policies to combat fatherlessness and to strengthen marriages and cut the rate of family dissolution,” George said.
Brian Brown, the executive director of NOM and of NOM’s California chapter, said in an e-mail that NOM “seeks to protect and promote marriage as an institution in which husbands and wives truly commit themselves to lifelong love and mutual support, and to nurturing their children in the context of their marital communion.”
NOM asserts that children need to grow up in the presence of both a mother and father, and that healthy marriages contribute to society’s overall welfare.
“[M]arriage is the original and best department of health, education, and welfare,” George said, adding that “[m]arriage is a private association that plays an enormously public role.” In response to advocates of same-sex marriage that cite the health benefits and other protections afforded by marriage, NOM asserts that such issues are best addressed by the appropriate state policies rather than by a reevaluation of marriage itself.
Brown said he believes that NOM will continue to see success. “[W]e’ve been successful in laying a strong national foundation of support to our efforts and playing an important role in advocating for marriage,” he said. “We will continue to work and grow through 2008 and beyond.”