In case you missed it in the shuffle of last week’s Friday news dump, it was revealed that Mitt Romney’s political action committee donated $10,000 to the National Organization for Marriage, the country’s leading nonprofit advocate for marriage discrimination. The contribution came in 2008 as the group was fighting to pass California’s Proposition 8, which revoked equal marriage rights for same-sex couples in that state. According to Sam Stein at Huffington Post:
While neither the donation nor Romney’s opposition to same-sex marriage were a secret, the precise way in which he contributed to NOM remained under tight wraps until Friday. One of the only public comments on the matter came when the former Massachusetts governor’s top spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, told the Deseret News that Romney. . . would be writing a check to NOM.
But when Romney eventually made his donation, he did so quietly, and through an unusual channel. Records filed by Romney’s Free and Strong America PAC with the Federal Election Commission did not include details of that $10,000 donation. Nor did NOM’s public 990 form. In fact, record of the payment was only uncovered Friday when the pro-gay rights Human Rights Campaign was sent a private IRS filing from NOM via a whistleblower. . .
Asked for comment, an aide to Romney said that the donation was made through the Alabama chapter of the Free and Strong America PAC. State records confirm this. However, the 990 NOM filed lists the donation as having come from PO Box 79226 in Belmont, Massachusetts.
According to Stein, HRC’s Fred Sainz remarked:
“It’s clear now that Romney was a major financial donor to Prop. 8. . . His spokesperson said that Romney had financially supported Prop 8 but there’s no disclosure of a contribution to any Prop. 8 effort, personal or through the national or Alabama PAC. He instead chose to give to NOM, an organization that has a history of shielding its donors. For what other purpose would you contribute $10,000 to NOM three weeks before the election other than Prop 8?
Also writing for Huffington Post, prominent LGBT activist Scott Wooledge connects the dots and asks the important questions in an article titled “How Much Racial Division and Hostility Did Mitt Romney Buy with His $10,000 Donation to NOM?.” He notes that the recently-revealed confidential NOM documents — which outline the group’s strategy to pit LGBTs, African Americans, and Latinos against each other — were intended primarily for donors’ eyes. “The lawsuit from which they emanated centered around donors, so presumably these pieces of evidence were used to persuade donors of NOM’s political viability.”
He continues (emphases mine):
Was Mitt Romney among the privileged few high-dollar donors who got an “eyes-only” glimpse at NOM’s confidential strategy memos?
In other words, it’s worth asking: what did Mitt Romney know, and when did he know it? To be fair, Romney’s 2008 donation predates the materials that have been made public. But his relationship, and that of his Church — a major donor to NOM — continues. And it stands to reason that there were 2008 versions of this strategy memo, as well as 2010, 2011, and 2012 versions. The mind shudders to imagine what is in the ones we haven’t seen.
When Mitt Romney cut his $10,000 check for Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown’s National Organization for Marriage, did he know that his money would be used to “drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two key Democratic constituencies”? Did he know it would be going toward fanning hostility between his fellow Americans?
Wooledge also notes an additional connection between Romney and NOM: the candidate has signed that group’s so-called “Marriage Pledge.” Signatories — also including Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich — commit to supporting the addition of a marriage discrimination amendment to the United States Constitution, defending the oxymoronically-named (and, oh yeah, unconstitutional) “Defense of Marriage Act,” appointing federal and Supreme Court judges who share the group’s exclusionary definition of marriage, putting equal marriage rights up to a popular vote in the District of Columbia, and establishing a presidential commission to investigate the (non-existent) harassment of those who support marriage discrimination.
American Bridge 21st Century has also launched a Change.org petition calling on Mitt Romney to disavow the hateful and homophobic strategy of the National Organization for Marriage, which you can sign here. That this petition is almost certainly not going to persuade Romney to buck the rabidly conservative GOP base and denounce NOM’s race-baiting is so obvious it hardly deserves to be mentioned at all; however, signing the petition will still send an important and strong message to the Mitt Romney campaign that NOM’s disrespectful, divisive, exploitative tactics have no place in modern, civilized political discourse, or for that matter, modern civil society.