The film opens with the following words:
In 2010, with the election of Lincoln Chafee to the position of Governor of Rhode Island, the way seemed clear for the passage of a same-sex marriage bill, which the previous governor had promised to veto.and ends with the following analysis:
In response, NOM, the National Organization for Marriage, a group opposed to same-sex marriage, redoubled their efforts...
Due to the efforts of NOM RI, under the leadership of Chris Plante and the grassroots coalition he has formed with religious groups such as the Catholic Church, the passing of a same-sex marriage bill in Rhode Island is in serious doubt.I have to admit, I faced some criticism for interviewing Plante, because he is a out and out homophobic bigot. There is a sense out there that I needed to be harder on him, and more confrontational, but I was more interested in letting him talk, so as to get at the root of his views and beliefs. Watching either film below would be a shock to the average person. Chris Plante is as slick an operator as they come, with ready made arguments for any question I tossed at him, but his central ideas, enshrouded as they are in a blather of incoherent religiosity given the patina of faux rationality, are bankrupt.
MERI, (Marriage Equality Rhode Island) the group at the forefront of the battle for same-sex marriage rights, was outclassed and outmaneuvered by a guy with all the scruples and morality as the smarmiest imaginable door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman.The Providence Phoenix did a great job of making sense of the reasons MERI lost and NOM RI won. In "The stunning demise of gay marriage" David Scharfenberg writes:
Much of the critique has focused on Kathy Kushnir, the former executive director [of MERI], who resigned last week.
Some insiders maintain she was in an impossible position — destined to be blamed, no matter what she did, for MERI's frustrated progress. But there was broad concern that Kushnir, who did not respond to a call for comment, lacked the campaign experience required for the final legislative push.
Among [Bill Fischer, MERI's former spokesman]'s biggest critiques of MERI: a hesitance to engage, directly, with Bishop Thomas J. Tobin and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, which joined with the National Organization for Marriage-Rhode Island (NOM-RI), the local chapter of the leading anti-gay nuptials group in the country, to mount an aggressive lobbying effort from the start of the legislative session.
Tobin penned editorials and made direct contact with several legislators. The Reverend Bernard Healey, the church's chief lobbyist, was relentless. And NOM-RI launched a $100,000 television campaign and delivered an early barrage of phone calls and postcards that proved difficult to overcome.
"We let NOM get the jump on us in a way that's tragic, because we know public opinion is on our side," says Segal, the former state representative, who has advised MERI on its lobbying effort.
When I originally conceived the idea for NOM-inated, I thought it would be interesting to interview both Plante and Kushnir, and set up their views in opposition to one another. Repeated calls to Kushnir went unanswered. The best she would do for me was set me up with some Rhode Island College students, both excellent interviewees, but it was impossible to cut their interviews into the Plante piece because they were student activists, and Plante was a full-time lobbyist for the cause. The only person who commanded equal and opposite gravitas was the head of MERI, Kathy Kushnir, and she refused to be interviewed.
Too bad to, because NOM-inated has gone national, posted on and reposted on many blogs, and has over 1700 viewings. Her voice would have been a welcome counterweight, but the film serves the purpose it set out to fill: Christopher Plante hangs himself with his own words.
In the weeks to come I will be anxious to see what becomes of MERI. The new leader, Ray Sullivan, has been given kudos for turning the organization around, but it is too late for the present legislative session. Gordon Fox, the head of the House, has put Civil Unions on the table, a compromise that satisfies no one. The GBLT community knows it establishes their relationships as "separate but equal" and Bishop Tobin has already said he opposes them as well. Chris Plante and NOM also oppose Civil Unions.
There is no secular reason to oppose same-sex marriage. The only reason to do so is because of antiquated and cruel religious views. It is bigotry, pure and simple, that motivates the opponents, despite their cries to the contrary.
MERI, GLAD, and every other group and individual committed to same-sex marriage needs to refocus their efforts, and not give up the fight. Two local groups I belong to, the Rhode Island Atheist Society and Humanists of Rhode Island are both committed to this cause as well. In the months and perhaps even years ahead, we will continue to oppose NOM, the Catholic Church, and every other person who cannot see that a country that denies rights to a few of us denies them to all of us.