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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Iowa Courts Hijacked By National Organization for Marriage Intimidation Campaign

Marriage equality remains law in Iowa

WASHINGTON – After tonight’s defeat of the three Iowa state Supreme Court justices who ruled in favor of marriage equality last year, the Human Rights Campaign and Courage Campaign condemned the National Organization for Marriage's efforts to intimidate judges across the country.

NOM’s president Brian Brown has admitted that his group’s effort in Iowa’s judicial election was actually about intimidating judges around the country into ruling against equality for millions of loving American families. In Iowa, NOM spent an unprecedented $600,000 on TV ads and a 45-county bus tour.  Despite NOM’s mean-spirited and fear-driven campaign, same-sex marriage remains legal in Iowa. 

"By their own admission, NOM’s Iowa strategy was about sending a warning shot to judges nationwide,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “NOM and its secret donors will continue to target judges around the country if they rule in favor of marriage equality and will foster an anti-gay, hostile environment in the process.”

"Having seen its extremist agenda increasingly rejected by the courts and the American people, it is telling that NOM has now settled on a strategy of evading tax and election laws and trying to intimidate judges," said Courage Campaign Founder and Chairman Rick Jacobs. "These are the tactics one might expect from Al Capone, not a credible political organization."  

Prior to its involvement in this election, NOM received a strong warning from Iowa’s ethics agency for evading campaign laws. During a 2009 special election in the state, NOM told supporters they could contribute to its Iowa campaign efforts secretly—without disclosing their names.  Iowa law requires disclosure of contributors to political campaigns.   

NOM is also fighting campaign finance laws in New York, Washington, Rhode Island, California and Maine, where it remains under investigation by the Maine Ethics Commission for failing to register with the state as a ballot question committee and refusing to disclose the donors to its campaign to overturn Maine’s marriage equality law in 2009.

The Washington Independent has reported that NOM is funneling charitable donations into political campaigns. NOM's charitable arm, The Ruth Institute, was also the subject of a recent IRS complaint filed by HRC and the Courage Campaign for repeated violations of federal law prohibiting charitable organizations from advocating on behalf of political campaigns.

HRC and the Courage Campaign have documented NOM's deep ties to anti-LGBT extremists, as well as its refusal to comply with election and tax laws through and the NOM Tour Tracker.

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