Danielle TRUSZKOVSKY: Meet your anti-gay adversaries

On the anniversary of Stonewall, remember we must still fight

Another guest post by Danielle Truszkovsky, marking the beginning of a week-long in-depth look at the NOM.

Originally published in the South Florida Blade.

Although we are in another wonderful month of gay pride celebrations, it is important to remember that our community is in the midst of an active battle for equal civil rights. The National Organization for Marriage (NOM)—the group behind the nation-wide anti-gay movement—has recently expanded its efforts and ad campaigns to ensure that millions of gay Americans are denied the same basic rights as every other US citizen. Since we are fighting for our rights and the rights of our families, it makes sense that we should know as much as possible about our primary adversary.

On their website, NOM states they have a 501(c)(4) nonprofit status, which means that the group is a “Social Welfare Organization” without restrictions on lobbying expenditures. When I searched for the organization using Guidestar (the leading nonprofit research database), however, no such 501(c)(4) shows up. Instead the National Organization for MarriageInc shows up with a 501(c)(12) status which is for “Local Benevolent Life Insurance Associations, Mutual Irrigation and Telephone Companies, and Like Co.” It seems this organization is intentionally misrepresenting itself.

It is also suspicious that this group, which has a seemingly limitless supply of cash, is operating out of a tiny one-room office (located at 20 Nassau Street, suite 242, in Princeton, NJ). I visited this office numerous times, but never found a single person working there.

Also strange is that this office was previously inhabited by a right-wing organization called the Witherspoon Institute, which according to the Opus Dei Awareness Network (ODAN) is an “Opus Dei-affiliated foundation.” Opus Dei is the secretive sect within the Catholic Church, with direct ties to the Vatican, that reportedly has billions of dollars in assets. They were made famous by the villain in “The Da Vinci Code,” who was a devout member of Opus Dei, albeit an uncharacteristically murderous one.

It’s not surprising, however, that an Opus Dei “Numerary” is one of the founding members of NOM. ODAN states, “Numerary members pledge to remain celibate and generally live in Opus Dei houses. They commit their entire salaries to Opus Dei, submit incoming and outgoing mail to their directors, and practice various forms of corporal mortification, including use of the cilice, a spiked chain worn around the thigh, and use of the discipline, a knotted rope for whipping.”

NOM has more than one tie to a controversial religious sect. Another founding member of the group was Matthew Holland, who is a professor at Brigham Young University. His father is a member of the Quorum of 12 Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This “Quorum” represents the governing body of the LDS church. The Mormon and Opus Dei connection comes together beautifully in NOM’s “Gathering Storm” ad campaign, and it appears that at least 3 of the “actors” in the commercial are Mormons and at least 1 is a member of Opus Dei.

Although NOM portrays itself as a group of average Americans, the reality is quite different. (Most Americans do not whip themselves with knotted ropes or stab their own legs with spiked chains.)  And since the Board of NOM has such close ties to religious organizations with billions of dollars in assets, it is only logical to question where NOM’s funding is coming from and if it being reported accurately.

On March 25, 2009 Californians Against Hate requested copies of NOM’s IRS 990 tax return forms. Federal law requires non-profits release this information within 30 days. It is nearly 90 days after the initial request and still NOM has failed to release their tax forms and are currently accruing IRS fines of $20 per day until their financials are released to the public. What are they trying to hide?

Although NOM is continuing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on ad campaigns across the country, no one knows where this money is coming from. They are the only national organization working to deny gay Americans equal rights and their operating practices are suspect. Considering the Board’s obvious ties to the Mormon Church and Opus Dei—is it possible that the only nationalized effort against gay civil rights is merely a front group for controversial religious organizations in an attempt to force their religious ideology on the American public?

This June let’s remember that although we may have many differences within our own community, we are all fighting for a common goal: equal rights. If members of the Mormon Church and Opus Dei can come together in a “marriage” of sorts in a collaborative effort to deny gay Americans equal rights, then certainly we as a community can work together to ensure that we win this fight for equality.

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    News and views on NOM, marriage equality and the Mormon church from a former LDS missionary. This site is not affiliated with The National Organization for Marriage or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. © Copyright 2009 by Chino Blanco. All Rights Reserved.

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