NOM v FTM: Vids & IRS 990s,
From a Gay Perspective
Within days of last Tuesday's elections, the National Organization for Marriage and the Freedom to Marry group posted videos on the web, and both orgs declared their side won at the ballot box in different parts of the country. I'm not concerned with which group can best spin the election results, but instead want to look at some of the language in the videos and fiscal transparency matters.
First up, is Brian Brown from NOM:
This video opens with patriotic red, white and blue graphics, employs soft music and shows Brown in a muted color scheme touting NOM's advances. He's also asking for donations to continue their work.
Brown also uses the words gay and same-sex when describing the gay marriage related reasons behind the recall of three Iowa judges. Using those words, I believe, resonates with average voters because it is the language most folks use when considering gays getting married.
In terms of views and comments, it's been watched nearly 4,900 times and more than 200 comments have been shared.
Next up is the video FTM created featuring Evan Wolfson:
This bare-bones efforts has no music or opening patriotic symbols, and jumps right into Evan speaking. In the background, however, looms a large framed poster of Abraham Lincoln, and throughout the video, graphics and lists of positive developments flash on the screen, entertaining the eyes. But distracting the eyes is a terrible large white glare beaming behind Evan's head.
And what stands out most in his remarks is the omission of the words gay and same-sex. Instead, Evan substitutes equality and freedom. Such word-play is a disturbing continuation of the No on Prop 8 campaign mentality in which gay, er, equality leaders contort themselves to studiously avoid using the phrases gay marriage and same-sex marriage.
This sort of obfuscation by Evan and others sends a clear message that there is something very wrong with the words gay and same-sex, and prevent average voters from connecting to what is being said.
The video's been seen more than 2,400 times and received only one comment, which was spam and has been removed.
I wrote to Evan about my concerns and told him only one vid reached me, largely because of words used. I didn't say just messages that use the word gay are the only ones I connect with, but Evan, being the lawyer that he is, took my admission and twisted it. He also addressed issues related to fiscal transparency at NOM and FTM:
Sorry to hear you only respond to videos that say the word gay, Michael. There was no specific intention to omit the word -- which I say whenever it seems to fit and which is all over our website and, I seem to recall, in the email the forwarded the video. You may be reading too much into it; I was spending most of my energy during the video trying not to cough from the bad cold I was fighting.
And you are correct about the 990's. We are on the verge of reconstituting Freedom to Marry as an independent c3 and c4, pending IRS certification, at which point we will handle our own disclosure. One of the reasons for this move is precisely to have even more transparency and accountability, consistent with the greater public-facing role we have spent this year building for.
But any suggestion that NOM is in the least bit transparent is laughable, given their consistent effort to subvert disclosure laws, their phonying up of their reports, and their massive flood of money from hidden donors. Keep perspective.
FTM currently has no IRS 990 to share on its site, and is fiscally sponsored by another org, the Astraea Foundation, which is not disclosed by FTM. To their credit, Evan's org has four annual reports posted, and they contain info on their donors. Yes, I give FTM big points for those reports and the donor info, but they also receive demerits for failing to disclose the relationship with Astraea, and that a small bit of fiscal info on FTM, Evan's $178,158 salary, is contained in Astraea's latest IRS 990.
OTOH, the NOM site shares two IRS 990 filings for the anti-gay, er, anti-equality org. Gotta give them credit for such fiscal transparency. Their 2008 tax report shows Brown took home $130,208, and Maggie Gallagher earned $26,875.
However, NOM gets a big thumbs down for failing to reveal they also have a NOM Education Fund and that it files its own IRS 990. Plus, NOM does not post their affiliate's tax filing, there is only one so far, and that is available for public inspection here. They also get a demerit for not sharing info on their donors.
Keep perspective, Evan? I do and it's a proud gay perspective that also knows about IRS 990s and their importance. I look forward to the day when FTM files IRS 990s and makes them available to the public.