NOM seeks to influence November elections
An anti-marriage equality organization continues to work to influence the outcome of next month’s elections.
The National Organization for Marriage filed federal court lawsuits in Florida, New York and Rhode Island challenging the states’ campaign finance laws. The organization has cited the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment to void restrictions on political advertising and campaign-finance disclosure laws in the three states.
In its lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court for Rhode Island, NOM said it intends to "engage in multiple forms of speech" during the remaining weeks before Election Day on Nov. 2. These include radio and television ads, direct mail and "publicly accessible Internet postings".
The organization wants to help elect GOP gubernatorial candidate John Robitaille, who opposes marriage for same-sex couples. The other candidates, Democrat Frank Caprio, Independent Lincoln Chafee and Ken Block of the Moderate Party, have said they would sign a marriage bill if the state Legislature passes one.
Sloppiness appears to be a hallmark of the suits NOM has filed in all three states, observers say.
U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mary Lisi dismissed the Rhode Island suit on Oct. 1, saying it’s disorganized, vague and poorly constructed according to the Associated Press. Lisi said the relevant allegations were "buried" in the document NOM filed, but the judge gave NOM until Oct. 6 to submit a cleaned-up version.
NOM filed a similar lawsuit against the New York State Board of Elections in U.S. District Court with the intention of funding the campaigns of state lawmakers who are against passing a same-sex marriage bill.
Fight Back New York is urging donors to respond by making contributions of at least $5 to support candidates who would vote for a marriage bill.
In its Florida lawsuit, NOM states it wants to spend $5,000 in negative advertising against state Legislature candidates who support marriage equality.
Plans to spend such a comparatively paltry amount may be an indication NOM isn’t serious about its efforts in the Sunshine State. "It’s hard to tell if NOM is getting involved in the Florida campaigns," Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, told EDGE.
Smith pointed out the organization’s summer bus tour stops fizzled. NOM first scheduled a rally in Tampa, but canceled it in favor of Orlando, which it considers a stronghold.
"It was a poorly attended," reported Smith. "Based on how pitiful the response was, I doubt that they see it as a good use of their time."
Although NOM hasn’t filed a lawsuit in Iowa, it recently approached the Iowa Ethics Board for a clarification of its election laws.
Activists suspect its intention is to void a state Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling last year that legalized marriage for gays and lesbians, perhaps through a ballot referendum.
W. Charles Smithson, the board’s legal counsel, responded in a letter to NOM Executive Director Brian Brown the organization must form a PAC and disclose donor names if its campaign contributions exceed $750 a year.