WASHINGTON, April 3, 2012 — On duty days and drill weekends, soldiers from nearby Fort Meade routinely frequent the local Starbucks in Odenton, Maryland to treat themselves to something other than a cup of Joe from the Iron Mike at the mess hall. This Sunday, my off-post coffee break was punctuated by a fellow soldier mentioning that “Some group is boycotting Starbucks over gay marriage. Who really cares who marries who?”
I informed the uniformed group of customers it was NOM (the National Organization for Marriage) who cared, it was NOM calling for fatwa on a company that happens to support marriage equality and that NOM deserves full credit for engaging in divisive and corrosive tactics to marginalize fellow Americans. In spite of NOM, everyone proceeded to drink their coffee.
Reasonable people can and do disagree about gay marriage, but Americans stand united against the failed politics of discrimination and division. As recently revealed, NOM has sought to divide Americans based on race, and is dividing our attention away from the issues that matter most to our nation today. NOM has rejected the American motto of “e pluribus unum” - out of many, one - and their politics of division should be rejected by all Republicans in return.
NOM put explicit plans to exploit racial divisions on paper. “The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks.” Regarding immigrants, “We must interrupt this process of assimilation by making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity.” NOM’s ultimate agenda? “Fanning the hostility” between LGBT Americans and racial minorities.
Putting aside NOM’s callous disregard for LGBT families, my party, the Republican party, cannot afford to be associated with an organization that arrogantly seeks to manipulate African American and Latino voters, particularly when the Republican Party is working hard to promote our message of economic opportunity and individual liberty among these communities. Crude identity politics has no place in today’s conservative movement.
Before the Iowa caucuses, Republican presidential candidates, including Governor Mitt Romney, rightly chose to reject a marriage pledge sponsored by a group called “The Family Leader” because the organization appealed to racial division. The NOM marriage pledge signed by Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich should be similarly repudiated now.
In addition to crude racial tactics, NOM has also engaged in a clear campaign of intimidation against any Republican official or candidate who dares to agree with Vice President Dick Cheney that “freedom means freedom for everyone.” From threatening billboards to promising to pour millions of dollars into local elections to punish pro-equality Republicans, NOM’s leadership has set their sights on dividing the GOP at a time when we most need to be uniting to retake the White House.
The debate surrounding the freedom to marry is ongoing, with good and loyal conservatives on both sides. However, NOM is a cancer that needs to be removed for the good of the conservative movement. Inclusion wins, and division loses. It is time to walk away from NOM – and buy a cup of Starbucks coffee for the road.
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