The National Organization for Marriage’s Branding Problem

Maggie Gallagher, NOM Co-Founder

How very bizarre that the so-called National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has spun off a project called the “Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance” when they can’t seem to find anyone who is defaming marriage. In fact, they can’t even find anyone who is defaming people who believe in marriage.

OK, OK, survivors of failed marriages sometimes bitterly disparage it. Perverse definitions abound. Quinn’s Devious Dictionary lists hundreds of them (e.g., “Marriage: the only cure for love,” and “Marriage: the only legal means of suppressing freedom of speech”). But no one is campaigning against marriage. No political action committees are lobbying to abolish it. Not a single one of the GOP 2012 presidential candidates has denounced it. Federal and state governments provide generous incentives for couples to marry.

Despite their name, NOM’s over-arching goal is to oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage in the U.S. Their mission is about opposition, not support. Support could mean encouraging more people to marry (sensibly), or it could mean providing various kinds of material and educational support for married couples and their children. But the meaning of “marry” is now so contested that NOM is compelled to begin every public debate by reiterating that “marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Not so fast! Since the term “marriage” already includes the same-sex variety in five U.S. states and 10 countries, there are no longer any grounds for restricting the definition, as NOM would like to do. The horses are out of the barn. Whether NOM likes it or not, hundreds of thousands of marriages in this world are between same-sex partners. Universal acceptance of such marriages may still be far off, but the expanded definition of the term “marriage” is a fait accompli. Language changes—sometimes very quickly—and those who cling to out-dated definitions become, well, incomprehensible old fogies.

This is why the public isn’t “getting” NOM’s branding of itself and its anti-defamation alliance.

The National Organization “for” Marriage? Huh? Is someone against marriage?

The Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance? Huh? Who’s defaming it?

Anyone interested in buying a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist?

Other organizations with “anti-defamation” in their names—the (Jewish) Anti-Defamation League and the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, aim to protect people from harassment, discrimination, defamation, and violence inspired by hatred toward their faith or ethnicity. NOM anti-defamation alliance aims to protect those who, for religious or whatever other reasons, advocate against gay marriage by employing language that could itself be considered defamatory. Confused yet?

No one should be harassed for their beliefs. But NOM’s branding doesn’t reflect what it is really up to. If it’s “marriage” that they want to promote and protect, then they will have common cause with same-sex couples who want the legal right to marry.

So move over and make room, NOM—we’re all in this together!

I said earlier that NOM couldn’t find anyone who was defaming either marriage or people who believed in marriage. I lied. Given the more inclusive definition of “marriage” that has already taken hold, NOM needs only to hold up a mirror to find its anti-marriage culprits.

For the reality is that NOM itself is anti-marriage. Not “anti” all marriage, of course. They oppose only one kind of marriage. But in so doing, they are attempting to bar untold thousands of loving and committed couples from becoming married. Do you know of any other organization that has such an “anti-marriage” agenda?

Let NOM rebrand itself. Let’s see some names that truly reflect their agenda. Below is a short list of suggestions. Please offer your own as well.

  • The National Organization Against Same-Sex Marriage (NOASM)
  • The National Organization for Opposite-Sex Marriage (NOOSM)
  • The National Organization for Keeping Certain People From Marrying (NOKCPFM)
  • The National Organization for the Restoration of Marriage As TV Depicted it Circa 1950. (NORMTVDC1950)
  • The National Organization for Marriage for Everyone But Queers (NOMEBQ)
  • The National Organization for Particular Religious—Mostly Catholic—Models of Marriage (NOPRMCMM)
  • The National Organization for the Protection of Defamation of Same-Sex Marriage (NOPDSSM)
  • The Same-Sex Marriage Defamation Coalition (SMDC)
  • The Coalition to Portray Straight Married Couples as Victims (CPSMCV)

OK, the acronyms are a bit unwieldy, but at least the names are descriptive. Additional suggestions are welcome.

While NOM is rebranding itself, supporters of same-sex marriage can start their own national organization. Let’s see … What could they call it?

How about, “The National Organization for Marriage?”


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One Response to “The National Organization for Marriage’s Branding Problem”

  1. The National Organization for Marriage's Branding Problem … | Marriage is Unique Says:

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