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The Big Donors Who Fund NOM’s ‘Educational’ Hate Speech

By Zack Ford and Eli Clifton  

"The Big Donors Who Fund NOM’s ‘Educational’ Hate Speech"

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The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) goes to epic lengths to avert state campaign finance disclosure laws. In fact, NOM is still fighting charges of campaign-finance violations in Maine from 2009 and is none too happy that Minnesota will require full disclosure of corporate donations for the 2012 marriage amendment fight. Most of NOM’s funding for lobbying and ballot initiatives comes through its 501(c)4, which allows it to keep hidden much of its donor information. But NOM also has a 501(c)3 arm, the National Organization for Marriage Education Fund, which funds its own array of advertisements and outreach but is required to disclose donor information.

The public display of NOM’s (c)3 is the Ruth Institute. The Ruth Institute tries to “make marriage cool” by packaging NOM’s anti-marriage equality talking points in workshops, seminars, and research briefs, much of which is targeted to college students and young adults. Recently, the group’s blog attracted attention for a post last week attacking the anti-bullying It Gets Better campaign for promoting “deviant sex” and ignoring the “negative practical consequences of the LGBT lifestyle.” This kind of unambiguously anti-gay rhetoric is par for the course for the Ruth Institute. NOM maintains its public face by spinning most of its campaign rhetoric as being about “protecting marriage,” but the Ruth Institute has the freedom to directly attack LGBT people and cater to social conservatives with much less inhibition. Here are some more examples of NOM’s (c)3 attacking gays, lesbians, and bisexuals far beyond their public “traditional marriage” campaigns:

- EX-GAY THERAPY WORTH CONSIDERING: The Ruth Foundation has not held back in promoting ex-gay therapy, recently highlighting a two-part interview with Phillip Sutton, editor of NARTH’s “peer-reviewed” journal.

- FEATURED OPPONENTS OF ALL LGBT EQUALITY: In June, the Ruth Institute featured SaveCalifornia.com’s Randy Thomasson, who argued that California’s schools were about to be hit by a “tsunami of perversity” and homosexual indoctrination.

- GAYS “SUFFER FROM” AND “STRUGGLE WITH” SAME-SEX ATTRACTION: In April, Ruth’s founder and president, Jennifer Roback Morse, spoke at Wheaton College and suggested that same-sex attractions are something that people “suffer from” and “struggle with.” NOM highlighted the speech on its main (c)4 blog.

- AD HOMINEM ATTACKS AGAINST LGBT RIGHTS: In a post last month, Ruth Institute contributor “Ari” described gay rights groups as “America-Hating, Freedom-Hating goons.”

And here are some of the top donors funding this vitriolic anti-gay rhetoric:

- One of the largest donors to the National Organization for Marriage Education Fund was the Douglas and Maria Devos Foundation, which contributed $500,000 in 2009. The foundation’s president, Douglas Devos, serves as president of Amway.

- The Bengard Foundation contributed $100,000 to NOM’s Education Fund between 2007 and 2008. Bengard is headed up by Bengard Manufacturing owner Tom Bengard and his wife, Kim Bengard.

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation contributed $50,000 in 2008. The foundation functions as a legacy for brothers Lynde and Harry Bradley, co-founders of the Allen-Bradley Company, and supports a wide range of conservative social and political causes. The board includes a number of high-profile conservatives, including columnist George Will and NOM’s chairman, Princeton University Professor Robert P. George.

- One other donor worth mentioning is the GFC Foundation, which gave $20,000 directly to the Ruth Institute in 2010. Founded by Stanford Swim, the “God, Family, Country” Foundation gives a “significant percentage” of its funds to the Mormon Church and also funds the anti-gay Sutherland Institute, which was founded by Swim’s father, Gaylord Swim.

As the National Organization for Marriage grows and continues to play a significant role in the fight for marriage equality, scrutiny will only grow for where their money comes from. NOM’s connections will become more clear and the funders of their anti-gay campaigns can then be held accountable.

(HT: Jeremy Hooper for his regular coverage of the Ruth Institute.)

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