For five years, Louis Marinelli was a major anti-same-sex marriage activist, working for the National Organization for Marriage, organizing its Summer of Marriage tour, and managing its social media. But now, Marinelli takes it all back. In a long post on his website, Marinelli details the slow process by which he began to see gay people as human beings. He tells of realizing his anti-gay marriage Facebook page was filled with offensive comments, which is why he "began to understand why the gay community was out there claiming opposition to same-sex civil marriage was all about hate." He decided that while religious groups are well within their rights to restrict whom they marry, "that has nothing to do with civil marriage, performed and recognized by the State in accordance with state law." The conservative Republican supports "full civil marriage equality. The constitution calls for nothing less."
The gay site Good As You first broke the news of Marinelli's conversion, with its writer Jeremy Hooper detailing the activist's change of heart with a lot of boldface, caps lock, and exclamation points. Likewise, many other gay bloggers were thrilled with the news, like Candace Chellew-Hodge, a gay Christian, who writes at Religion Dispatches that Marinelli's turnaround "provides a shred of hope that even the most hardened, virulently anti-gay opponent can be converted from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh simply by building relationships with the very people they had considered 'the enemy.'" Similarly, Andrew Sullivan says that Marinelli's words are powerful because,
"In this highly polarized political climate, it's extremely rare to hear someone say 'I was wrong.' It's even rarer to hear someone say that and then actually investigate their own misconceptions or biases to understand exactly why they were wrong. And that's especially true in the mine-field of the culture wars."
But as the shock of their former enemy becoming an ally wore off, LGBT bloggers turned to the question of what Marinelli could tell them about the mysterious goings-on at the National Organization for Marriage. Towleroad's Steve Pep interviewed Marinelli, and asked several questions about Maggie Gallagher, the mysterious woman in change of NOM. (Marinelli said Gallagher "loved to be the center of attention" and "just seemed a little bit like she was in her own world." She also couldn't remember his name.) On Top magazine noted that 40 percent of people who responded to Marinelli's Facebook quiz about how he should "best serve the cause of marriage equality" thought he needed to "Expose NOM's agenda."
Less agenda-driven outlets are focusing on the irony: The Village Voice's Joe Coscarellli headlines his post, "Anti-Gay Activist Actually Loves Gay Marriage." Daily Intel's Mike Vilensky titles his, "National Organization for Marriage Strategist Realizes He’s Actually Pro-Gay Marriage." But some within it are marveling at how a group like this could have such a huge impact on their lives. At the New Civil Rights Movement, David Badash focuses on Marinelli's description of NOM as controlled by Gallagher, president Brian Brown, and "a small and largely incompetent office staff." Furthermore, "There is no grassroots opposition." Badash writes, "So, the National Organization For Marriage is made up of a few players, with major, secret funding. It’s been confirmed from an insider, who tells us, 'That is all that is standing between you and the freedom to marry.'"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.