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When a light is shined into the dark corners of American politics, itÂ’s never pleasant to see what scurries away. Last week, a federal judge in Maine unsealed memos from the National Organization for Marriage, one of the most prominent groups fighting against same-sex marriage.
They relate to a case filed over whether the group must disclose the donors that helped underwrite a 2009 ballot initiative that overturned the stateÂ’s legalization of same-sex marriage. The group uses its designation as a social welfare organization to avoid federal disclosure, but the memos dispel any notion that the claim has any legitimacy. National Organization for Marriage is a political group, through and through.
The documents brag about its Â“crucialÂ” role in passage of Proposition 8, CaliforniaÂ’s ban on same-sex marriage that was overturned by a federal appeals court. They describe the groupÂ’s use of Â“robo-callsÂ” to scare residents in different states away from supporting marriage equality. They talk of a plan to Â“expose Obama as a social radical,Â” but the most appalling portions deal with the groupÂ’s racially and ethnically divisive strategies.
Â“The strategic goal of the project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks Â— two key Democratic constituencies,Â” says one memo.
Another stated aim is to manipulate Hispanic voters by making the exclusion of gay people from marriage Â“a key badge of Latino identity.Â”
These are not the musings of a marginalized group. The day after the memos became public, National Organization for MarriageÂ’s co-founder and chairman emeritus, Robert George, was appointed by John Boehner, the Republican House speaker, to a United States commission focused on addressing religious intolerance and extremism around the globe.
Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have publicly aligned themselves with the group and signed its pledge to work aggressively from the White House against same-sex marriage.
Now that the groupÂ’s poisonous political approach is out in the open, Mr. Romney and the others should be racing to make clear their disapproval.
We detect no stampede.
A version of this editorial appeared in print on April 3, 2012, on page A26 of the New York edition with the headline: Divide and Discriminate.