Divide and conquer is one of the most successful strategies in existence. Fighting a single large unified force is hard, fighting several small factions who are fighting amongst themselves is relatively easy. So it comes as no surprise to me that advocates for banning gay marriage are trying to divide their opposition:
An internal memorandum from one of the country’s leading organizations against same-sex marriage outlined a plan to help its cause by exploiting unease among blacks over the issue.
The undated memo was one of several documents unsealed by a federal judge on Monday in a case in Maine, where the group, the National Organization for Marriage, helped finance a successful ballot initiative in 2009 overturning the state’s legalization of same-sex marriage.
“The strategic goal of the project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two key Democratic constituencies,” the memo says, describing an initiative called the “Not a Civil Right Project.”
The complete text of the document is a pretty interesting read but the methodology described under “Not a Civil Right Project” is downright damning:
THE STRATEGIC GOAL OF THIS PROJECT IS TO DRIVE A WEDGE BETWEEN GAYS AND BLACKS — TWO KEY DEMOCRATIC CONSTITUENCIES. FIND, EQUIP, ENERGIZE AND CONNECT AFRICAN AMERICAN SPOKESPEOPLE FOR MARRIAGE; DEVELOP A MEDIA CAMPAIGN AROUND THEIR OBJECTIONS TO GAY MARRIAGE AS A CIVIL RIGHT; PROVOKE THE GAY MARRIAGE BASE INTO RESPONDING BY DENOUNCING THESE SPOKESMEN AND WOMEN AS BIGOTS. NO POLITICIAN WANTS TO TAKE UP AND PUSH AN ISSUE THAT SPLITS THE BASED OF THE PARTY. FANNING THE HOSTILITY RAISED IN THE WAKE OF PROP 8 IS KEY TO RAISING THE COSTS OF PUSHING GAY MARRIAGE TO ITS ADVOCATES AND PERSUADING THE MOVEMENT’S ALLIES THAT ADVOCATES ARE UNACCEPTABLY OVERREACHING ON THIS ISSUE. CONSIDER PUSHING A MARRIAGE AMENDMENT IN WASHINGTON D.C.; FIND ATTRACTIVE YOUNG BLACK DEMOCRATS TO CHALLENGE WHITE GAY MARRIAGE ADVOCATES ELECTORALLY.
What we have is a rare black and white demonstration of political divide and conquer strategy. Usually political advocacy groups try to wrap their strategies in fuzzy sounding words in an attempt to make their strategy appear benevolent. They will usually cite several studies showing the dangers of allowing their opposition to win and use that as justification for whatever strategy gets concocted. It’s exceedingly rare to see a political advocacy group come out and just state what they plan to do.
What I find funny is not just the strategy of dividing blacks and gays but also the statement that they desire to find attractive young black democrats. Ugly black democrats need no apply, people won’t listen to them as closely. Reading through this document I believe the National Organization for Marriage v. Walter F. Mckee is going to be a very interesting case indeed. What other blatantly stated strategies has the National Organization for Marriage come up with?
In the end I still find it hilarious that people are battling over legalizing gay marriage instead of demanding the state get out of marriage entirely.
On a side note, because incriminating memos have a habit of falling down the memory hole I’ve uploaded a local copy of the document here [PDF].