3.03.2010

Is NOM censoring comments on their blog?

Several weeks ago, while the Prop 8 trial was underway, someone posted a comment on the blog of the National Organization for [opposite-sex only] Marriage and it almost immediately disappeared without warning or explanation. He posted another comment expressing disagreement with NOM's position, took a screenshot to prove it, and sure enough, it was gone within a few minutes. (If anyone has the link to that blog post, that would be great. I don't remember whose blog it was but maybe someone can find it.) There was a some outrage on Twitter and a few other blogs, but nothing huge, because everyone was more worried about the trial. At some later point, I posted a comment disagreeing with NOM so I believed they had stopped taking down pro-SSM comments.

Today, they posted an entry about a Catholic charity in Washington, D.C. which has decided not to offer benefits to any of their employee's spouses, after same-sex marriage became legal in that city today. As a charity, they receive a lot of money from the city each year, so the city told them if they're going to offer benefits to opposite-sex married couples, they should do the same for same-sex married couples. Since that goes against the teachings of the Catholic church, they decided not to offer benefits to anyone's spouse. It was a very difficult decision for them, and this is an issue that same-sex marriage supporters should consider. Even if you believe that same-sex marriage should be legal, no matter what, you should realize that it can have unintended consequences like this, and be careful that you're not advocating anything that would force charities into uncomfortable positions like this, if possible.

But NOM picked the following title: "Church Forced by DC Government's SSM Law to Drop Future Spousal Benefits" As another commenter before me pointed out, that's not just misleading, it's an outright lie. In fact, the very first sentence of the blog post itself (from the Washington Post article I linked to above) is: "The church faced two options with the approval of the new law." So, yes they were put into a very difficult position. Yes, they were forced to make a choice. Yes, perhaps the DC City Council should have considered the charity's complaints more carefully before passing this law. But no, sorry, the government didn't force the church to drop future spousal benefits. That is just not true.

I posted a comment saying something to the effect of "Look, there's a real debate to be had here. But if your post title says the church was forced by the government to do something, and the very first line of the text says they had two options, then how are we going to have that debate?" When I looked at the entry again, my comment was gone. I don't want to accuse NOM of censoring comments, especially because there are several other dissenting comments on that entry which have not been deleted. But it does seem suspicious. I went ahead and posted another comment saying more or less the same thing. So far it is still there but I'm excited to see if it gets taken down again. If my first comment was indeed removed, I'm curious how they decide which ones to leave up and which ones to remove.

P.S. I have to give NOM credit for using the term "SSM" instead of "gay marriage" or "homosexual marriage." As you might have seen in a recent poll about DADT, people feel a lot differently about "gays and lesbians" than they do about "homosexuals" so thanks NOM! I appreciate you using a term that is less likely to stir up emotions. That is a big step in the right direction and I very much appreciate it!

2 comments:

Emma said...

I actually disagree about SSM. I think NOM likes this acronym because of its similarity to S&M (Not that there's anything wrong with S&M, per se, but it does muddy the debate, and plays into how NOM wants the world to think of gay men and lesbians.) This is pure speculation on my part, of course, but I always take the time to type out same-sex marriage despite its length.

Tyler Breisacher said...

So in summary:

gay marriage: bad
homosexual marriage: definitely bad
same-sex marriage: good
SSM: bad