The Christian Dominionists Who Benefit from David Tyree’s Fame

Apostle Joseph Mattera introduces David Tyree at press conference at the New York state capitol in 2011.

Apostle Joseph Mattera introduces David Tyree at press conference at the New York state capitol in 2011.

Former New York Giant David Tyree’s personal views on gay marriage have been the topic of much debate since his recent hiring as director of player development for that franchise, but the press has overlooked an even more significant problem.  For the better part of a decade, Tyree has traded on his NFL fame to win unsuspecting donors for some of the country’s leading Christian dominionists, including one of the most aggressive anti-gay activists in America. Thanks to Tyree, Joseph Mattera can be seen in the New York society pages at fundraising galas rubbing shoulders with New York Giants Eli Manning and Tiki Barber, NBA stars, beauty queens, business leaders, and movie stars such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Hugh Jackman. Many of these figures are, no doubt, unaware that they are helping one of the nation’s most zealous campaigners for biblical law establish a foothold in New York by funding the foundation led by his wife and co-pastor, Joyce Mattera.

The David Tyree Charity Bowl 2012 for Children in the City included NY Giants Tiki Barber and Kenny Phillips.

The David Tyree Charity Bowl 2012 for Children in the City included NY Giants Tiki Barber and Kenny Phillips.

A rising star of the Religious Right, Joseph Mattera was recently named the “convening apostle” of the U.S. by a network of religious leaders by called the International Coalition of Apostolic Leaders (ICAL, formerly the International Coalition of Apostles). These self-appointed, modern-day “apostles and prophets” are part of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement and are on the cutting edge of anti-gay activism in eastern Europe, South America, and Africa. They believe they have a mandate for taking dominion over the “Seven Mountains” or power centers of society and culture. While those society page celebrities at these fundraisers may not know about Mattera’s national and international fame in this role, and at least one major donor I’ve reached most certainly did not, Tyree undoubtedly does. His “spiritual mother” and co-author Kimberly Daniels is also an apostle in the movement, as is Tyree’s business partner, Frank Dupree. I have documented these relationships elsewhere, including the obsession of Tyree’s mentor with praying away the gay, or expelling the (literal) demons she believes cause homosexuality.

Children of the City

According to its website, the mission of Joyce Mattera’s nonprofit organization, Children of the City, is “to reach at-risk inner-city youth and their families.” The group has long used Tyree and its at-risk intervention agenda to attract public exposure and win liberal support for the Matteras. Mattera has written about doing “good works” through Children of the City to gain traction in New York City for their conservative religious campaigns, stating in his book, Kingdom Revolution,

My wife and I have taken this principle to heart and have ministered to tens of thousands of at-risk children since 1981. Then when the time came to lead the fight against same-sex marriage in our city, we had already earned a place of respect because of the service we had freely given to our community.

This approach is common among the “apostles.” For example, Peter Wagner, a pioneer of the NAR and its apostolic networks, wrote about ICA apostle Eddie Long’s success in making his ministry indispensable to Atlanta through faith-based charitable work.

In another book, Walk in Generational Blessings, Joseph Mattera describes the monthly home visits to 1,000 children on Children of the City’s roster “by our fifty volunteers, most of whom attend our local church.” While Children of the City’s programs appear to be faith-based, their marketing and much of their support appears to be secular. In Kingdom Revolution, Mattera boasts of their fundraising success outside their own conservative religious community:

Our programs are 95 percent supported by non-Christian private donors, foundations, or city and state aid. Since 2001, this has totaled millions of dollars and far exceeds our local church’s budget and financial abilities.

Mattera’s apostolic network affiliates include New York City Intercessors, and his wife Joyce is an executive of the NYC Women’s Prayer Summit. These prayer networks have emphasized an international campaign called the 4/14 Window Movement to reach children four through fourteen years old, the age range they believe is most impressionable for indoctrination into their worldview.

Joyce Mattera started Children of the City in the early 1980s and serves as its executive director. The group registered with New York State in 1994 and received federal 501(c)(3) status in 2002. According to its newsletters and promotional material, the board of directors includes mainstream business leaders. However, those names do not appear in the nonprofit’s tax filings. Almost all of the directors listed in Children of the City’s IRS 990 tax forms are pastors and lay leaders of the Resurrection Church, founded by Joseph and Joyce Mattera.

The nonprofit is registered as a religious charity, and one of its early tax forms lists the mission as “teaching children biblical and Godly values.” Subsequent filings and promotional material for the organization have no religious language. The charity is advertised as providing academic mentoring and life skills training for poor urban children and their families.

The Children of the City organization shares space free of charge and phone numbers with the Resurrection Church, as well as with Joseph Matteras’ nonprofits. The contact number for New York summits and rallies for traditional marriage were the same as that given for Children of the City.

Mattera speaks to Ugandans in promotional video for Nations Discipleship Enterprise, led by Apostle Arnold Muwonge.

Mattera speaks to Ugandans in promotional video for Nations Discipleship Enterprise, led by Apostle Arnold Muwonge.

The nonprofit’s newsletters and website include a “Uganda Mission,” described as partnering in Uganda with Arnold Muwonge in support of education of children at his orphanage. There is no reference to the fact that Muwonge is also an ICA apostle who, in addition to housing 100 or so children, leads an apostolic network that claims to include more than 2,500 churches. Muwonge resides and works in England as a “reverse missionary,” bringing the supernatural successes of Uganda to the Western world. Like many others in this network in Uganda, he teaches that HIV/AIDS can be cured through prayer. Muwonge’s bios include references to his training under Apostle John Mulinde, a key player in introducing Peter Wagner’s ICA networks in Uganda and the local apostle who organized Lou Engle’s TheCall Uganda in 2010. That event became a rally for the “Kills the Gays” Anti-Homosexuality Bill, a version of which passed earlier this year before being overturned today on a procedural issue by Uganda’s Supreme Court.

Tyree, Mattera, and NOM

Tyree has also worked directly with Joseph Mattera and the National Organization of Marriage (NOM), providing a popular face for these Religious Right leaders’ activism. One example is the 2011 press conference in opposition to marriage equality organized by Mattera. In the embedded NOM video from the event, Mattera introduces Tyree, stating, “He cared more about marriage and family than his reputation. He’s the first celebrity that I know of, and the first New York athlete to come out against same sex marriage.” Mattera describes the response to a NOM-produced viral video of an interview with Tyree, who is followed at the microphone by NOM’s Maggie Gallagher.

Joseph Mattera coordinated the protests against marriage equality in New York and has written extensively about strategy for a theocratic restructuring of society.  He has spoken at foreign events decrying the “homosexual agenda,” including a 2007 Watchmen on the Walls conference in Latvia with founders Alexey Ledyaev and the notorious Scott Lively.  Lively is the author of The Pink Swastika and currently the defendant in a case brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights for his role in inciting the persecution of sexual minorities in Uganda.  Speakers described an agenda for forming government aligned with biblical law in countries around the world, including a strategy presented by Scott Lively for criminalizing any public advocacy of homosexuality.

Tyree’s relationship with the Matteras, like his relationship with Kimberly Daniels, predates his famous Super Bowl performance of 2008, but it is Mattera who has soared to international prominence in recent years in the religio-political networks of the NAR. Mattera compares his views on biblical law to those of Rousas Rushdoony and Christian Reconstructionism, but has voiced opposition to execution of homosexuals in his interpretation of biblical law. He favors a more gradual process that would drive LGBTQ people back into the closet and argues that the process “towards a biblical theocracy in a pluralistic society” is to establish commandments five through ten of the Ten Commandments, and to enable the next generation to legally enforce commandments one through four.

City Action Coalition

The U.S. network of apostles that Mattera now heads is a part of a movement dubbed the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) by C. Peter Wagner, the recently retired international convening apostle. Mattera’s rapid ascendance in prominence within the NAR may be the results of his capabilities in organizing and outreach in urban areas, a primary target of the international movement. In addition to his Resurrection Church in Brooklyn, Mattera founded Christ Covenant Coalition, a network of apostles in the New York area, and a religio-political activist arm called City Action Coalition. Protests against marriage equality in 2011 were organized under the auspices of the latter, including one on the steps of city hall in New York City and the press conference at the state capitol. David Tyree was perhaps the most widely recognized public figure on stage at both of these events.

Mattera’s network of like-minded apostles, including Harry Jackson Jr., utilizes similar strategies to those leaked to the press from internal NOM memos in 2012. That strategy was to drive a wedge between lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities and African Americans in order to split key sectors of the Democratic Party. However, in urban and heavily Democratic areas, the effort is intentionally nonpartisan or bipartisan, in order to separate African American and Latino pastors and churches from their progressive allies, while leaders retain their Democratic or nonpartisan identies. Some, like Harry Jackson Jr., have described themselves as Democrats while supporting GOP candidates and a reactionary political agenda.

Tyree’s co-author Kimberly Daniels ran, and won, a position on the Jacksonville, Florida, city council as a Democrat in 2011. Daniels had partnered with fellow “prophet” Harry Jackson in spearheading opposition to the federal Hate Crimes bill in 2007, falsely claiming that pastors would be jailed for preaching against homosexuality.

Bullet points for City Action Coalition’s strategic agenda, no longer online, included forming a nonpartisan Christian political movement to inspire 10,000 emerging leaders in politics and culture and to unite the “1.5 million Bible-believing Christians in New York” as a “strong multi-ethnic and cross-denominational voice” for the political arena. The following were listed as major issues: traditional marriage, sanctity of life, religious freedom, formation of charter schools, and support for school vouchers and homeschooling.

Taking Dominion over the Seven Mountains

ICAL apostles Mattera, Os Hillman, and Lance Wallnau spoke at a conference in June 2014 about the Seven Mountains.

ICAL apostles Mattera, Os Hillman, and Lance Wallnau spoke at a conference in June 2014 about the Seven Mountains.

Joseph Mattera travels the world – Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America- to speak about the “steps to biblical dominion” or taking control of the “Seven Mountains.” The latter is a concept used to simplify the teaching of the Christian Dominionist theology by using mountains or gates to represent the seven power centers of society: arts and entertainment; business; education; family, government; media; and religion. In his book, Ruling in the Gates, Mattera writes that the “coming apostolic reformation should result in placing godly leaders in every facet of society with a biblical worldview.”

Mattera’s biblical worldview is not limited to the hot button issues of homosexuality and abortion. Mattera’s response to the shooting at Sandy Hook School was to blame abortion, rather than guns, for the tragedy. He teaches that capitalism is most closely aligned with the bible, and that the bible forbids inheritance and other progressive taxes.

Mattera has spoken around the world about the need for like-minded Christians to out-procreate everyone else, describing this as the “key to dominion.” In 2010, Mattera told an audience in Argentina that dominion won’t happen because of one stadium event, and explained that if the church had more children and their children had more children, “we would have more influence than anybody else, we would have more votes than anybody else, and we would have the most power on earth.”

This is the Religious Right leader that David Tyree has helped to empower in New York, aiding him and his wife in establishing their enterprises in the community, and drawing unsuspecting funders to grace the pages of society magazines in promotion of the Children of the City nonprofit. This past week, Tyree was publicized as having evolved in his views about homosexuality and that he was repentant of his words of three years ago. But perhaps it’s not his personal views, whether they have evolved or not, that matter most. The most recent David Tyree Charity Ball raising funds for Children of the City was held in June, publicized in sports page lauding Tyree’s life choices as guiding his selection of charitable partners. As director of player development for the New York Giants, Tyree will be able to expand his role of leading his unsuspecting teammates and others into the sphere of the theocratic NAR apostles.

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Profiles on the Right: The Knights of Columbus

Knights of Columbus

The Knights of Columbus, founded in 1882, is the largest Catholic fraternity almost 2 million members worldwide. It was created in-part to provide affordable life insurance for Catholics, but the organization also focuses on policy issues, including a “pro-life” stance and a steadfast opposition to marriage equality. The Knights of Columbus are part of the “establishment,” with members including House Speaker John Boehner, former Governor Jeb Bush and Justice Samuel Alito. President John F. Kennedy was also a member. While this organization’s concerns are much broader than abortion and equal marriage, its financial heft campaigning on these topics is substantial.

The Knights of Columbus, in their own name, have chosen to celebrate an individual who committed many atrocities against the Native Americans he encountered. The lobbying of the Knights was instrumental in ensuring national recognition of Columbus Day, a holiday that is controversial today. The Knights are also largely responsible for the introduction of the phrase “under God” into the Pledge of Allegiance in the 1950s, the removal of which has repeatedly been attempted and still continues to fail.

Their most transparent campaign is their attempts to deny reproductive rights, both through aiding widely denounced “crisis pregnancy centers” which feed women false or misleading information about their options, or funding other anti-choice groups. This is not a new phenomenon, a 1989 report documented possible misuse of bingo proceeds in supporting anti-choice groups in Wisconsin. A 1992 New York Times article documents a plan to construct a “tomb of the unborn child” in every diocese in the country. Knights of Columbus groups at all levels are campaigning for legislation to limit access to abortion, and they are very open about their campaigning, with a “culture of life” umbrella constituting one of their three stated “Public Policy Issues.”

The “culture of life” campaign has been instrumental in the “ultrasound initiative”, which provides ultrasounds that allow expecting mothers to “recognize the miracle of life”. The Knights have also been strong supporters of Marches for Life, particularly in the U.S., Canada, and the Philippines, and they even go as far as to argue that support for abortion restrictions is bi-partisan.  Despite their claim to be bi-partisan, the group has strongly supported some of President’s Trump’s policies, including his May 2017 executive order for “religious liberty.”

In contrast to their prominent anti-abortion movement, the Knights’ campaign against equal marriage is given reduced publicity, to the point that a report researching their funding of anti-LGBTQ efforts had to examine their IRS filings, as opposed to a convenient profile outlined on their website. The report, by Equally Blessed, a coalition of four Catholic organization supporting LGBTQ people, highlights their funding against marriage equality in 12 states, including roughly $1.9 million to the National Organization for Marriage (NOM: PRA Profile here). During the campaign over Proposition 8 in California, the Knights of Columbus donated around $1 million to the Yes on 8 campaign.

In 2017, the Knights anti-LGBTQ efforts were highlighted by a report published by The National Catholic Reporter, which discussed how the Knights have donated to The Becket Fund For Religious Liberty, an organization working to legalize LGBTQ discrimination. The Knights of Columbus have also donated to The National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, where a bishop last year “described LGBT human rights as a “demonic gender ideology.”” The Knights also supported medical ethics workshops where speakers advocated for “curing” those who identify as gay or transgender through counseling.

The Knights of Columbus have responded to claims that they are anti-LGBTQ by suggesting that their spending against equal marriage is only a small proportion of their total spending. While they spent $1 billion during the timeframe the report examined, “only” $15.8 million went towards anti-LGBTQ efforts. From disaster relief, to helping fund the Special Olympics, the Knights of Next ProfileColumbus are in many cases a charitable force for good. Nevertheless, their massive and continued efforts against the rights of women and LGBTQ individuals far overcasts any goodwill they may have hoped to earn.

Updated: 4/10/18.

Profiles on the Right: National Organization for Marriage (NOM)

NOM logo


Conservative activist Maggie Gallagher and Princeton professor Robert George launched the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) in 2007. NOM’s mission is to defeat same-sex marriage at the polls, in the legislature, and in the courts, from state to state and across the country. The group functions as an organized infrastructure that coordinates state and federal initiatives into a national movement to ban same-sex marriage.

For its first project, NOM worked in tandem with the Mormon Church to funnel money into California’s Proposition 8 campaign, which led to suspicions that NOM is a front group for the Mormon Church. NOM has since incurred suspicion that it is also a front for the Catholic Church, due to close ties with—and funding from—Catholic groups. Catholic conservative Brian Brown took over as president in 2010 from co-founder Maggie Gallagher, who now serves as president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, a conservative anti-marriage equality think tank.

Gallagher previously worked for other antigay groups such as the Institute for American Values and the Marriage Law Foundation. In her book The Abolition of Marriage, Gallagher equates same-sex marriage with polygamy, stating that “for all its ugly defects, [polygamy] is an attempt to secure stable mother-father families for children… [and] there is no principled reason why you don’t have polygamy if you have gay marriage.” NOM also recently shared an image on their Facebook page, comparing equal marriage to incest. Current board chair Dr. John Eastman, a Chapman University law professor, has vocally defended the Boy Scouts’ antigay discrimination and referred to homosexuality as a form of “barbarism.”  NOM recently made the news when the Mormon science fiction author, Orson Scott Card, stepped down from NOM’s board after being criticized for his homophobic views.

Despite the economic recession, NOM’s revenue increased exponentially in its first few years, starting out with a modest half million dollars in 2007 and rising to $7.4 million in 2009, 14 times its 2007 income. Three-quarters of its 2009 revenue came from 14 big donors (minimum $5000) who together contributed $5.5 million, the largest donor contributing $2.5 million. In 2010, that number grew again to $9.1 million. Thus, a small group of extremely wealthy donors is responsible for NOM’s funding, giving this handful of privileged individuals an exaggerated influence on the same-sex marriage debate and public policy. However, in 2011, after pledging to spend $20 million, NOM’s upward trend in fundraising changed, reporting only $7.2 million in revenue (mostly from two donors), down almost $2 million from 2010 (NOM’s budget continues to shrink). Considering their limited spending in Illinois, it appears that their financial heft is dwindling. Upon losing marriage equality ballot initiatives in all four 2012 state contests–Iowa, Minnesota, Maine, and Washington–NOM President Brian Brown blamed the defeats on being “greatly outspent” and claimed “same-sex marriage is not inevitable.”

Shirking financial disclosure laws, NOM fiercely protects the anonymity of its donors and thereby encourages them to continue giving large sums of money. The largest known donor is the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal society based in New Haven, CT, that contributed $500,000 in 2008 and $1.4 million in 2009. Many suspect that the largest donations are coming from the Mormon and Catholic Churches because of their connections to NOM founders and board members. “You’ve got this really interesting funnel of tax-free money coming from the Dioceses and the Council of Bishops and the Knights of Columbus directly to these campaigns,” noted Phil Attey, executive director of the pro-gay marriage Catholics for Equality.

NOM leaders claim they maintain this secrecy to protect donors from persecution by gay rights supporters. They even use this policy of anonymity as a fundraising tool, with Brian Brown promising prospective donors that their identities will remain secret: “And unlike in California, every dollar you give to NOM’s Northeast Action Plan today is private, with no risk of harassment from gay marriage protesters.” Furthermore, NOM defends its non-disclosure by suing states such as California and Maine, challenging their financial disclosure requirements as unconstitutional. In response to a 2010 ethics investigation from the state of Maine, NOM committed millions for litigation to delay disclosure in the courts as long as possible.


One of NOM’s chief strategies involves campaigning for anti-gay legislators and working to unseat lawmakers and judges who support marriage equality, particularly Republicans and moderate Democrats who support pro-LGBTQ legislation and court cases. In 2011, it vowed to spend $1 million on these goals in Maryland alone. The group successfully implemented this strategy in 2010 to unseat three State Supreme Court judges in Iowa who ruled in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in the state. In 2012, the group pledged $100,000 to unseat a fourth Iowan judge who supported marriage equality. This strategy has been used repeatedly, including in New York and earlier this year in Minnesota. While not unusual, NOM is able to wield significant financial heft in some of the state level elections they are involved in. Their efforts are less and less successful, however, as exemplified by their 2013 support for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli (R ) who lost to Democrat Terry Mcauliffe.

With fiery rhetoric, NOM demonizes so-called “traitors” against marriage through extensive mailings, robo-calls, and e-newsletters. Prone to fear mongering and hyperbole, NOM’s leaders rally their ultra-conservative base to vote the “traitors” out of office and donate to anti-same-sex marriage candidates. For instance, in a July 2011 newsletter, NOM president Brian Brown declared that with Senate hearings on repealing DOMA, “President Obama and the hard-left core of the Democratic Party in Washington declared war on marriage, on federalism, on democracy and on religious liberty.” NOM wields hyperbolic rhetoric to distort the pro-same-sex marriage campaign into an all-out war on traditional American principles. Framing same-sex marriage as an insidious threat to such universally accepted American values, it galvanizes target audience and makes it difficult for supporters of equality to argue against them. With their seemingly innocuous claim that they are “protecting families,” NOM’s leaders hope to confound and silence opponents.

Another fear mongering argument that NOM employs is the notion that redefining marriage would result in religious persecution by the government. Its leaders argue that such “persecution” would include: forcing pro-gay views on children in public schools, forcing churches to perform same-sex marriages, and denying tax breaks to religious institutions that fail to recognize same-sex marriage. For instance, Maggie Gallagher has argued that she and Robert George founded NOM because “if nothing changes, state legislatures are going to begin to pass laws to redefine marriage and…our churches, charities, schools and other organizations were going to be persecuted by state governments as a result.”

As summarized in our recent profile of Brian Brown, the NOM president has been involved in organizing the World Congress of Families in Russia next year, and testified in front of the Russian Parliament (the Duma), advocating a legal solution to protecting ‘traditional’ families. Back in the U.S., NOM has continued campaigning in order to prevent the legalization of same-sex marriage. In Hawaii, they have contributed towards advertisements, arguing Hawaiian heritage is “rooted in family” and that in other states, “people and families are punished for not agreeing” with equal marriage. Political watchdog Fred Karger sent a complaint letter to the Hawaii Ethics Commission, detailed in our article about the Mormon Church in Hawaii, which was also a joint complaint against NOM, alleging that neither organization registered, as required, as lobbyists.

NOM has also branched out, beyond campaigning against equal marriage, to attacking a bill in California that allows transgender students to use facilities and participate in activities corresponding with their gender identity. They are hoping to bring forward a referendum on repealing the law, and replicate their success with the Prop 8 campaign. With regards to this law, Brown accuses activists of using “children as a weapon in their culture war.”

In March 2012, LGBTQ advocates got a detailed look into NOM’s campaigning and messaging strategies following a lawsuit related to the group’s Maine activities. Documents from the case reveal NOM’s efforts to develop anti-LGBTQ media to directly appeal to racial minorities, using it to drive a “wedge between blacks and gays.” At the end of August 2012, NOM launched a radio ad campaign in swing state North Carolina’s Raleigh media market, home to 40 percent of the state’s African-American population. The advertisement features Dr. Patrick Wooden, a prominent African-American pastor, and urges listeners to say “no more” to President Barack Obama based on his endorsement of marriage equality. The same documents showed that NOM hoped to inflame tensions among those in the African-American community who take issue with equating LGBTQ equality with civil rights, and to target the Latino community by making support for “traditional marriage” a “key badge of Latino culture” and recruiting “glamorous” Latino spokespeople to help further the cause.

In the summer and fall of 2010, NOM sponsored two bus tours to promote its anti-LGBTQ message, which generated little publicity and small turnouts. Undeterred, the group embarked on another bus tour in August 2011, aiming to sway Iowan voters to select an anti-gay marriage presidential candidate.In March 2013, NOM hosted a rally in Washington, D.C., against equal marriage, attempting to replicate protests in France. This rally, however, consisted of only a few thousand attendees. On the state level, NOM also promotes ballot initiatives to ban gay marriage, heavily funding referendums such as California’s Prop 8 and Maine’s Question 1. In states such as New York that lack a ballot initiative procedure, NOM focuses on lobbying legislators to oppose gay marriage through laws or constitutional amendments. The group spent $2 million to target three Republicans in the New York State Senate who voted in June of 2011 to legalize marriage rights for LGBTQ couples, helping to defeat one in a GOP primary. Another Republican who voted for the measure, Jim Alesi, opted not to seek a ninth term in the State Senate, fearing intense negative campaigning on the part of NOM and its allies.  In the wake of New York’s gay marriage legalization in June 2011, NOM plannned a failed yet massive campaign to lobby for a constitutional amendment to overturn same-sex marriage by 2015.

In March 2018, NOM has become involved in battles by businesses and corporations that want the right to discriminate against LGBTQ people on the grounds of religious liberty. They are strong supporters of the First Amendment Defense Act, which was proposed by Utah Republican senator Mike Lee. The act would prevent “government officials from targeting [business owners] for harassment and punishment over their views about marriage.” NOM has named the protection of marriage supporters as one of its top objectives in its 2018 Strategic plan.

Surprisingly, NOM as of April 2018 has directed its attention to stopping one of President Trump’s appointments: Chai Feldblum to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. NOM states “while we appreciate President Trump’s work to support religious liberty in other contexts, his nomination of this radical lesbian activist will cause real and lasting damage to people of faith who want nothing more than to be left alone by gay activists…”. Despite the fact that NOM has been disappointed by its previous efforts to change legislation supporting LGBTQ rights, it continues to advocate for discrimination against LGBTQ people under the guise of protecting religious freedom.

Updated: 4/10/18.

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Profiles on the Right: Brian Brown

Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marraige

Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marraige

Brian Brown, perhaps most infamous for his tendency to equate the LGBTQ community to pedophiles, is the current president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and a hard-line member of the Christian Right. A Quaker turned Roman Catholic, Brown has been a key player in the anti-equality movement for over two decades—even moving his family to California in 2008 for the sole purpose of defending the now-repealed Proposition 8 ballot initiative. Brown’s anti-LGBTQ crusades have included the exportation of homophobia to Russia and, on a domestic level, supporting the anti-transgender movement in public schools.

Co-founder and original executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, Brown succeeded Maggie Gallagher as president in 2010 when she accepted the title of president at the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, an anti-marriage equality think tank. NOM’s main goal is defending the “traditional family,” meaning that the organization does everything within its power to prevent same-sex couples from gaining civil rights, most particularly the right to marry.

One of the organization’s biggest strengths is its ability to keep the sources of its funding secret.  In a previous report that details the anti-LGBT movement, it is recognized that Brown uses the promise of anonymity as a fundraising tool, telling prospective donors that “unlike in California, every dollar you give to NOM’s Northeast Action Plan today is private, with no risk of harassment from same-sex marriage protestors.” NOM has also defended its financials by suing states such as California and Maine when they have asked for the organization to disclose its financials. PRA’s profile on NOM also notes: “In response to a 2010 ethics investigation from the state of Maine, NOM committed millions for litigation to delay disclosure in the courts as long as possible.”

NOM’s desire to shroud its monies in secrecy should come as no surprise, given that the IRS opened an investigation on the organization’s financials in 2013.

Brown also employs results-driven strategies against his opposition, and carefully avoids placing blame on individuals, instead asserting that “good-hearted people can have ideas that are profoundly wrong.” He further deflects blame away from himself by claiming he has friends and family who are gay, and that they “can disagree on all sorts of things and still care about each other.”

If Brown cares about his “gay friends” at all, it’s certainly not apparent in his actions. In June 2013, Brown headed to Moscow on the invitation of Illinois-based World Congress of Families (WCF), an organization that has been hell-bent on forwarding horrific anti-LGBTQ legislation abroad. In Moscow, Brown and other WCF supporters testified before Russian Parliament in support of banning same-sex couples from adopting children. In a transcript posted by the Duma, Brown told Russian lawmakers that “We will unite. We will defend our children and their normal civil rights. Every child must have the right to normal parents: a mother and a father.”

Brown and WCF certainly touted some influence in Moscow, days after Brown left, the Duma not only passed the adoption law, but also began to debate a frightening proposal to remove children from the homes of LGBTQ parents.

Another aspect of Brown’s stratagem is the utilization of fear-driven hyperbole. In a 2011 newsletter that reflects on the Senate hearings on repealing DOMA, Brown declared “President Obama and the hard-left core of the Democratic Party in Washington declared war on marriage, on federalism, on democracy and on religious liberty.”

In another NOM newsletter, Brown described the push to legalize same-sex marriage as analogous to accepting pedophiles. He inquired if the “pedophiles [will] become “minor-attracted persons” in our culture? Will courts which endorse orientation as a protected class decide down the road that therefore laws which discriminate against ‘minor-attracted persons’ must be narrowly tailored to a compelling government interest?” However skewed his rhetoric, Brown is still careful to not demonize the individual.

Brown’s crusades are not limited to the LGBQ community though; his most recent domestic crusade is against transgender students in California public schools. In August 2013, California passed a bill that allowed transgender students to use facilities and participate in after-school activities that correspond with their gender identity. The bill, which took effect in January 2014, gave California transgender students a chance at equality in an already-uphill battle.

Brown characterizes the new bill as “horrible,” a “weapon,” and said that it “doesn’t prevent bullying – it is bullying. It is not about protecting kids; it damages kids.” Brown further urges readers to sign a drawn up by Privacy for All Students (PAS) in an effort to overturn non-discrimination requirements, claiming the legislation “is politically-correct madness that risks the privacy and security of our children and grandchildren.”

NOM and PAS only support gender-conforming youth, refusing to even refer to the students they’re persecuting as transgender, preferring to say they have “so-called gender identities.”

As strategic as he is, Brown’s rhetoric is causing him to fall out of public favor. At the 2013 Values Voters Summit, Brown complained that media outlets such as ABC and CNN seldom give him air-time anymore.  But make no mistake, NOM still reaches many, as exemplified by the wide support the 2013 “Marriage March” on Washington, D.C. garnered. And Brown only seems to be motivated by equality victories. After the defeat of both Prop 8 and DOMA, Brown called the DOMA decision “an absolute travesty” and in The Washington Post said “The National Organization for Marriage intends to vigorously urge Congress to safeguard the remaining portion of DOMA, which protects the right of states to refuse to recognize same-sex ‘marriages’ performed elsewhere.”

When the U.S. Supreme Court was hearing the Obergefell v. Hodges case in 2015, which eventually led to the federal legalization of marriage equality, they campaigned constantly for “traditional” marriage and bussed groups of people from the surrounding states to protest at the capital. While NOM continues to campaign for anti-LGBTQ candidates and for those who support “traditional” marriage, their domestic presence is losing breadth. Their annual “March for Marriage” on Washington, D.C. in 2017 drew less than 250 participants throughout the entire day.

Brown continues to fight marriage equality, hoping to one day get it overturned, but his current focus is a “First Freedom Initiative” to defend the Christian Right definition of religious freedom. He is also active abroad, supporting the international anti-“gender ideology” and “pro-family” group CitizenGO as a board member.

Updated 5/14/18.


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Profiles on the Right: Maggie Gallagher

Maggie Gallagher

Maggie Gallagher

Marggie Gallagher is an anti-LGBTQ pundit and president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, which advocates a hard-line conservative agenda on marriage, sex, divorce law, and pregnancy. She is also well-known as a co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM).

Gallagher has said, commenting on federal judge ruling Proposition 8 unconstitutional, “The case for gay marriage is ultimately rooted in a rejection of common sense and core ideas about the natural family, including that children need a mother and father.”  She believes the mainstream media gives same-sex marriage advocates a pass and thinks polls showing increased support for marriage equality are inaccurate. “I don’t believe those polls. One thing that is happening is that people are afraid to say what they really think about marriage,” she said in an interview.”

In 2007, Gallagher co-founded the National Organization for Marriage, a nonprofit that she describes as “fighting to protect marriage and the faith communities that sustain it.” The organization operates nationally to oppose gay marriage, especially when pro and anti state legislation marriage bills are on the ballot. NOM has ties to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon), Focus on the Family, and the Knights of Columbus—all organizations with anti-LGBTQ stances. In 2012, she stepped down from the board at NOM. She currently serves as a senior fellow with the American Principles Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the fundamental principles on which the U.S. was founded.

Gallagher has said that marriage is primarily for reproduction and child rearing and that homosexual men and women should not raise children. She has also said, “Polygamy is not worse than gay marriage, it is better. At least polygamy, for all its ugly defects, is an attempt to secure stable mother-father families for children.” Because Gallagher believes heterosexual marriage is the pillar of democratic civilization, she often links same-sex marriage with social disorder and has not hesitated to connect same-sex marriage with the end of Western civilization.

Update 10/14/13:

Gallagher was recently quoted on, giving a statement where she appeared to acknowledge that the Right will ultimately lose their fight against marriage equality.

Next ProfileThis profile is part of a series on key anti-LGBTQ opponents adapted from Political Research Associates’ Resisting the Rainbow report.

In New Jersey, Reckoning for the Ex-Gay Movement

The fight to end ex-gay therapy takes center stage in New Jersey, with both legislative and legal actions targeting the harmful practice that seeks to “cure” homosexual orientation.

Introduced in October, the proposed bill returned to the limelight yesterday when a petition calling for Republican N.J. Gov. Chris Christie’s support crossed 100,000 signatures. Christie’s record on LGBTQ rights soured last February, when he vetoed a same-sex marriage bill. The governor has said that he supports gay rights, but not gay marriage. Christie previously nominated an openly gay man to the NJ Supreme Court, and has asked for marriage equality to be put to a ballot referendum.

The petition author, an openly gay New Jersey high school student, Jacob Rudolph, writes that the bill “would protect minors from the harmful, discredited practice of gay conversion therapy, which subjects teens to psychologically damaging ‘treatment’ by so-called psychology counselors who falsely claim they can ‘fix’ the sexual orientation of children who identify as being LGBT.” The petition includes a video of Rudolph coming out publicly as gay to his fellow classmates.

Read More

NOM-Rhode Island’s Marriage “Big Lie”

LibertyMN3As lawmakers in Rhode Island move toward passing marriage equality, National Organization for Marriage-Rhode Island (NOM-RI) responded with a series of very familiar newspaper ads and personal mailings warning voters of the “consequences” of marriage equality.

The newspaper ad, with the heading “The Big Lie,” claimed that religious organizations would be forced to sanctify same-sex marriages, as happened to the Knights of Columbus, and cites another case in New Jersey involving a Methodist organization. Both groups, the ad argues, were bullied by supporters of marriage equality due to their conservative religious beliefs. The mailings warned that if marriage equality is passed, children will be forced to learn about same-sex marriage as early as kindergarten as in Massachusetts public schools.

These ads are examples of two of the most common types of the Right’s anti-LGBTQ messaging, addressed in PRA’s recent report, The Right’s Marriage Message. The first, “Victims” messaging, portrays religious organizations and individuals as victims of same-sex marriage, whose religious liberty is violated when they are prohibited from discriminating. The second displays “Harm to Kids” messaging, which tries to convince voters—especially parents—that kids will learn about same-sex marriage or sexual behavior in school (and often pushes fears that this could influence their own sexuality). Read More

Why Marriage Won: Right-Wing Messaging and the 2012 Elections

An anti-marriage equality ad using the "victims" messaging frame.

An anti-marriage equality ad using the “victims” messaging frame.

Before the November 2012 elections, 37 states had voted on statewide ballot measures seeking to restrict marriage equality in this country. Each time, voters in these states—family members, friends, neighbors, and co-workers of LGBTQ people—approved the anti-LGBTQ position, often by large margins. Though the LGBTQ community has made significant progress over the last couple of decades in legislatures and courthouses across the country, this persistent losing streak at the ballot box gave anti-LGBTQ advocates a powerful talking point: liberal politicians, judges, and Hollywood celebrities may support same-sex marriage, but the American people do not.

But now, this past Election Day, voters helped make history by approving the legalization of same-sex marriage in Maine (51.5%), Maryland (52.4%), and Washington (53.7%) this year, and by rejecting a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Minnesota (52.56%).

So what happened this year to produce such different results?

In my forthcoming report with Political Research Associates, The Right’s Marriage Message: Marketing Inequality at the Dawn of Marriage Equality, I argue a major part of the previous losing streak was due to how both sides waged their media campaigns. In particular, I argue that opponents of LGBTQ rights such as the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and Focus on the Family traditionally ran extremely effective media campaigns with the help of right-wing spinmasters. Pro-LGBTQ media campaigns, on the other hand, largely failed to connect with important middle of the road voters.

This year, however, it appears this dynamic has flipped; opponents of same-sex marriage ran surprisingly ineffective media campaigns compared to previous years, while pro-LGBTQ advocates did a much better job winning over the hearts and minds of voters with their ads.  As I suggest below, a range of factors contributed to the victories, including a better ground game and outreach to faith communities, major cultural and political shifts in the national discourse including a sitting president endorsing marriage, and the hospitable territory offered by the four blue states. But this key shift in messaging needs to be part of any story about the big ballot wins of 2012. Our research shows the Right didn’t broadcast as many dark warnings that LGBTQ marriage rights would threaten people’s children as they have in years past as a means to reach socially moderate voters. And, we found, the pro-LGBTQ forces learned from previous defeats. On to the messaging. Read More