In 2012, The National Organization For Marriage Spent A Whole Lot Of Money On Losing


NOM's map -- updated by ThinkProgress to reflect four recent defeats

NOM’s map — updated by ThinkProgress to reflect four recent defeats

CREDIT: Adam Peck

The National Organization for Marriage and its affiliated “Education Fund” combined to spend more than $16.5 million in 2012, according to the groups’ newly released tax filings. More than $6 million of this money went to fight against same-sex marriage in seven states — six of which now have marriage equality — as well as numerous other failed political efforts.

While the NOM Education Fund (its 501(c)(3) arm) ended the year with about $1.6 million in the bank, NOM’s main 501(c)(4) account ended 2012 more than $2.7 million in debt.

According to the IRS Form 990s for the two tax-exempt organizations, NOM spent more than $2.1 million in Minnesota in support of efforts to amend the state’s constitution. After the amendment failed by a 51 to 47 margin and helped cost the Republicans control of both the state House and Senate, the legislature enacted marriage equality this May.

The group spent another $3.8 million to oppose pro-marriage equality state referenda in Maine, Maryland, and Washington. Voters in all three rejected NOM’s arguments and passed marriage equality. The group’s lone success came in North Carolina, where it spent $425,000 in support of the state’s marriage inequality amendment — though even that victory is currently being challenged in federal court by the American Civil Liberties Union.

It spent another $10,000 in support of the unsuccessful legal defense of California’s unconstitutional Proposition 8, $10,000 to back an anti-marriage group in New Jersey (where the state Supreme Court allowed same-sex marriage to begin last month), and nearly $6,000 to Stand for Marriage DC, a group that fought against marriage equality in District of Columbia in 2010.

NOM also gave $7,000 to the New Hampshire House Republican Victory PAC (after failing to repeal marriage equality in March 2012, the GOP also lost its majority that November), $5,000 to keep NH State Rep. Bill O’Brien (R) as House Speaker (he lost his majority and is no longer in leadership), and $1,000 to re-elect NH Republican State Rep. Stephen Stepanek (who lost re-election). It gave $55,000 to Bob Vander Plaats’ Iowa FAMiLY LEADER, which unsuccessfully attempted to defeat a state Supreme Court Justice who had ruled in favor of marriage equality.

Though she announced in late 2011 that she was significantly scaling back her involvement with the organization she co-founded, NOM paid $160,000 to Maggie Gallagher — more than she received the previous year as NOM’s full-time chairman. According to the NOM filing, Gallagher worked just 5 hours a week in 2012 (though this is contradicted in the filing for the Education Fund).

NOM, which has made race-baiting an overt part of its strategy, gave $35,000 to the William Owens Ministry. Owens, a controversial pastor, has long been NOM’s African American liaison through his Coalition of African American Pastors — though he previously claimed he received no compensation from the group.

NOM also sent $50,000 to the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF), a California-based “traditional family values” legal group that boasts of being “lead defense counsel for Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH).” JONAH, a group that provides harmful “ex-gay” therapy, is currently being sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center for allegedly committing consumer fraud by peddling a “cure” for homosexuality. FCDF also notes on its website that it has consulted with “a national pro-marriage nonprofit organization that has been falsely accused by a same-sex marriage activist of being found guilty of multiple violations of campaign finance laws” and is working to identify incidents of “harassing and threatening e-mails” sent to supporters of groups like NOM.

Despite the seven-figure deficit, NOM increased the salaries of its key employees from 2011 to 2012. That shortfall, combined with its 2013 defeats in Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Rhode Island, will be a significant obstacle as the group seeks to stop further movement towards marriage equality — and to get revenge on more than 625 lawmakers who it has vowed to hold “accountable” for their pro-equality votes.