As though 2016 wasn’t already enough of a circle of hell masquerading as a year, December tossed some additional brimstone on the fire. On 10 December last year, the National Organisation of Marriage (NOM), an American anti gay-marriage organisation, announced that it was launching an international edition, gathering together similar thinking people the world over.
In introducing the new International Organization for the Family (IOF), NOM’s President Brian S. Brown said it will be;
a coalition of allies to take the worldwide lead in fighting for marriage, religious liberty, parental rights, the truth of gender and other issues central to the pro-family movement.
The IOF, which Brown will also preside over, immediately rolled out its defining charter, the Cape Town Declaration. In fact, there already is a completely different Cape Town Declaration. Ironically the goal of that document is to open minds, rather than close them.
The NOM-backed IOF promises to “defend the natural family as the only fundamental and sustainable unit of society”, “promote the natural family as the fundamental group unit of society”, “protect freedom, faith, and family as the natural and fundamental group unit of society” and empower “young professionals, scholars, and activists to promote the natural family as the fundamental group unit of society”.
You might have noticed something about those quotes. They are almost word for word the same thing repeated four times. No surprise there. Like any good propagandists, the IOF want to claim to certain words, especially ones that they know will trigger their base such as “natural” and”family”. You might have also noticed the use of words of combat – “defend” and “protect”. NOM’s introduction of the IOF is even more aggressive.
There’s nothing that religious extremists like more than a holy war and this is a call to arms. NOM floundered under Obama’s rule but Trump’s victory has given them new hope. Like any army intent on world domination they’ve set up a treaty with international allies and they are even keeping track of their progress on a world map. NOM are not just any army though. They were forged in the American religious far-right, a special type of Christian fundamentalism that is more hateful, more vengeful, and more obsessive than varieties found the rest of the world. NOM has tried to export this hate previously. They focussed on parts of the world where they knew they had a sympathetic ear, parts of the world where extremists have captured politics. They’ve met with mixed success.
If I learned one thing from 2016 it was not to take democracy for granted. Brexit, Trump, and the increasing popularity of right-wing political parties in Europe all occurred in so-called “full democracies“, countries that may often vote “conservative”, but don’t tend to vote “crazy”. Trump’s theft of the Presidency especially has emboldened the far right and we will no doubt see a wave of imitators, spouting whatever hateful rhetoric required to con their way to victory.
NOM/IOF will seek to take advantage of this new world disorder. They have been watching and they know that justice and fairness are wounded animals. While NOM works to undo gay marriage at home, their international allies will take the fight global. They will seek to stop the further acceptance of same-sex marriage worldwide. Although they will still get more success in areas of extremist politics, they’ll also seek to make progress where democracy is strong. When Australia finally decides to next debate same-sex marriage the IOF will be there, whipping up waves of anti-gay hysteria.
As someone who lives in a country that is thought of as being highly democratic (New Zealand is currently the fourth ranked “full-democracy” in the world according to the Democracy Index) my rights are probably low on NOM/IOF’s list of priorities. New Zealand introduced marriage equality in 2013. It was a sweet victory but it came after decades of hard-fought progress – same-sex civil union legislation (2005), the addition of sexual orientation to the prohibited grounds of discrimination (1993) and the decriminalisation of sexual acts between men (1986).
So are NOM/IOF a threat to my marriage? Perhaps not. But again, 2016 was a reminder to stay vigilant, especially to the rise of extremism. Trump’s victory was proof that ideas that were in the past viewed as extreme can be disguised as ordinary. We cannot dismiss organisations like NOM/IOF as idiots and crackpots. We need to fight their attempts to capture politicians and politics. We need to unmask them for what they really are – hate groups no different from their “alt-right” neighbours.
In ONE MILLION DOMS Dominic Sheehan comments about political stuff. Yes, the title is a parody of One Million Moms. Yes, these people are clowns, but clowns are terrifying