The National Organization for Marriage knows that there is a huge generation gap on the issue of same-sex marriage. A study published last August by the Public Religion Research Institute found that millennials (those currently 18-29 years old) support LGBT rights at significantly (and increasingly) higher rates than older age groups. Unsurprisingly, NOM’s confidential strategy memos released this week reveal an intentional effort to recruit young “elites” as spokespeople for the group’s anti-equality efforts:
By conducting student conferences, speakers and debates, we aim to find, train, and equip young leaders on the marriage issue at Ivy League and equivalent universities. NOM has launched the Ruth Institute for this purpose and is working with the Love and Fidelity Network to replicate the success of the Anscombe Model on the Princeton Campus at other Ivy League schools. [...]
Love and Fidelity Network, centered at Princeton, is building a network of chastity-supportive organizations at Ivy League colleges. the centerpiece of LFN’s networks is an annual student conference that draws 200 to 300 leaders from Ivy League and equivalent universities. NOM will “piggyback” on these existing conferences (and search for other similar venues) to identify, train, and equip next generation leaders on marriage, including media training.
But in keeping with the aims of the Cultural Strategies Project we will not confine our mission to attract and cultivate a community of cognitive elites alone. Through the Love and Fidelity Film Festival and YouTube and Song contest, we will seek to identify a next generation of elites capable of creating pro-marriage culture more broadly construed.
This is another example of the way NOM emphasizes “elites” as spokespeople, but divides them up between “non-cognitive” and “cognitive.” For its “glamorous” celebrities, NOM prefers the “non-cognitive” variety who can parrot talking points and raise controversy merely by taking the anti-equality position. But for its future leaders and spokespeople, NOM wants “cognitive elites,” intellectuals from prestigious universities who can make compelling arguments against the freedom to marry that will help “construe” the broader base of society. In addition to recruiting young people, NOM also seeks out “highly credentialed intellectuals” to serve as expert witnesses who will proliferate its message.
The Anscombe Society NOM references as a “model” is a student group at Princeton University that believes sex should be reserved until marriage but that opposes same-sex marriage, and thus “believes that homosexual persons are called to lead chaste lifestyles.” This position unsurprisingly mirrors that of the Catholic Church — one of NOM’s chief allies in almost every campaign — and its Courage ministry, which condemns gays to either a life without love or harmful ex-gay therapy. NOM’s intent to “piggyback” on this rhetoric demonstrates that it not only opposes an inclusive definition of marriage, but it also intends to further spread religious-based anti-gay stigma for years to come.