The National Organization for Marriage is a big loser in today’s Supreme Court decision (and a big loser, period). NOM had the predictable over-the-top reaction against the ruling, fulminating against “corrupt politicians and federal judges.” But NOM has to realize that the ruling is ultimately a death blow to the organization.
NOM had its biggest success in the period from 2008 to 2010, with the passage of Proposition 8 and successes in Maine and Iowa. Since then, it’s been downhill. The group is facing multiple challenges now. Its policy of trying to hide its donors from public scrutiny has been rejected by courts. Supporter interest is waning. Its Marriage March this spring in D.C. was a bust, with just 2,000 people turning out.
NOM’s biggest problem is financial. NOM has always relied upon a small group of wealthy donors to fund its hate campaigns. In fact, two donors account for 75% of its 2011 revenue(the last year for which tax filings are available). The Human Rights Campaign reported that the 2011 revenue was one-third less than the 2010 revenue. No wonder NOM complained that it was outspent in the four successful marriage equality ballot measures last year. It couldn’t raise money the way it used to.
And its not going to ever again.
If NOM was sophisticated and sharp, it would know how to re-create itself. But NOM has always been an amateurish group that has relied upon public opinion being on its side. Now that public opinion has shifted, it doesn’t have the intellectual chops to figure out how to remain a player. The Supreme Court ruling cut NOM off at the knees because it made marriage equality a cold, hard national fact that NOM will never be able to change.
In the short term, NOM will use the Supreme Court decision for fundraising, but it’s hard to deny that marriage equality is inevitable now. Donors are going to want to place their bets on a winning issue. This clearly is a lost cause. As is NOM. Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown will have to find a new line of work. The business they’re in was just declared bankrupt.