For Immediate Release: January 17, 2013

Contact: Devin Driscoll Office: (401) 941-2727 Mobile: (541) 729-6159 devin@riunited.org

NOM Publishes Intentionally Misleading Anti-Equality Advertisement
PROVIDENCE – Following the publication of a blatantly false advertisement in at least one local newspaper placed by the National Organization for Marriage Rhode Island (NOM), Ray Sullivan, Rhode Islanders United for Marriage campaign director, today offered the following statement. “This ad is just another example of NOM’s hurtful misinformation campaign here in Rhode Island and across the country. Rather than engage in a civil dialogue about the legislation at hand, which would extend marriage rights to all loving, committed couples in the Ocean State, NOM is employing the well-worn tactics of those opposed to equality: fear mongering,” he said. This is a misinformation campaign designed to mislead and malign thousands of Rhode Island families,” added Sullivan. “These arguments of intolerance aren’t new – in state after state where NOM and their allies have attempted to enact their harmful, anti-gay agenda, they have run similar ads, the contents of which have then been widely debunked by local fact checkers and news organizations.” “This bill includes explicit protections for those faith traditions which choose not to welcome and affirm same-sex unions. People are entitled to their beliefs, but they are not entitled to their own facts,” Sullivan said. “Our grassroots campaign for the right to marry will continue calling out false and misleading information like this ad. We are going to hold opponents of equality accountable for their deceitful words and actions.”

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FACT CHECK
The advertisement that appeared in the Warwick Beacon includes a number of falsehoods and misleading statements that have been employed by NOM and its allies of intolerance in the past in other states, which are outlined below: • Claim: Faith organizations, such as the Knights of Columbus, will be forced to host same-sex weddings in their facilities against their will. Fact: A Vermont inn refused to host a same-sex wedding and was penalized. However, the legal repercussions were not due to Vermont’s marriage equality law, but rather a state anti-discrimination law. The inn owners cited “personal feelings” to justify their decision not to host the wedding of a lesbian couple. But Vermont’s Fair Housing and Public Accommodations Act prohibits public accommodations, such as inns, restaurants and schools that serve the public, “from denying goods and services based on customers’ sexual orientation.” Rhode Island law currently prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and HB5015 will not change affect that protection. • • Claim: Small businesses that oppose marriage equality will face lawsuits. Fact: A Seattle Times investigation “failed to turn up any evidence that samesex marriage had produced a rash of suits involving businesspeople.” The Times “also checked with human rights commissions in four of the six states where marriage is legal; the commissions said there was not an increase in discrimination findings or suits involving same sex marriage.” Claim: People have been fired from their job for opposing marriage equality. Fact: NOM claims Canadian sportscaster Damian Goddard was fired from his position with Rogers Sportnet after tweeting his opposition to marriage equality. Sportsnet denied that assertion, noting “well documented” reasons for his termination, saying it ”had already made the decision to terminate Mr. Goddard for cause.”

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Claim: Faith leaders who oppose access to civil marriage for all families have been punished for their beliefs. Fact: Bishop Fred Henry of Alberta, Canada, in a pastoral letter, equated homosexuality with pornography and prostitution, and asserted government should use “coercive power” to oppose them: “Since homosexuality, adultery, prostitution and pornography undermine the foundations of the family, the basis of society, then the State must use its coercive power to proscribe or curtail them.” A number of well-respected Canadians denounced the letter – including the Toronto Star editorial board and Globe and Mail columnist Michael Valpy.

Claim: Marriage equality legislation will force schools to change curricula. For example, opponents of marriage equality have said, “In Massachusetts, children as young as second grade have been taught about homosexual marriage in class.” Fact: Minnesota Public Radio has called this claim misleading: “There’s no evidence that same-sex marriage is taught throughout Massachusetts, and the state doesn’t require such curriculum.” The claim was also previously debunked by PolitiFact Rhode Island, which rated it “false.”

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