Talk about your all-time 180s. After five years of writing anti-gay blogs and making anti-gay YouTube videos on behalf of the National Organization for Marriage, Louis Marinelli deleted the organization’s Facebook page, taking all 290,000 “fans” with it, according to All Facebook.
Marinelli was the administrator for the Facebook fan page until last Friday when he submitted his resignation, clicked delete and then posted an entry on his personal blog titled “I now support full marriage equality.”
Marinelli says he now supports marriage equality on the civil side, not religiously, which is what this issue has everything to do with. Religions have every right to exclude whom they want to exclude, but it’s the state and federal governments which should either not be in the marriage game at all or allow every citizen to participate.
“In short, if there is an issue of disbelief surrounding my newfound support for civil marriage equality, it is disbelief from those who surround me. If there is an issue of shame, it is a result of acknowledging the number of people I have targeted, hurt and oppressed. And if there is an issue of embarrassment, its roots lie in the face-to-face encounters I have had and expect to have with those with whom I once toiled over this very contentious issue,” he writes.
He continued: “I understand that those whom I approach now are well within their right to disbelieve and question me and my motives. I accept that is the result of what I have done over the past few years and would therefore like to take this time to, as openly as I can, discuss the events that brought about my change of heart.”
What follows is a fairly incredible piece of introspection, mea culpa, and a personal journey from one political belief to the opposite. He says it was in Atlanta during the National Organization of Marriage’s “2010 Summer for Marriage Tour” — which, by the way, he organized — where he first began to feel differently on the issue. In the second-half of the year, he began to see gay and lesbians “were just real people who wanted to live real lives and be treated equally.”
Marinelli should be applauded for not just his change of heart, which isn’t easy in these self-reaffirming times we live in, but also for the olive branch he’s extended. It’s one thing to have a change of heart, it’s another thing to do something about it.
NOM’s Facebook page has around 1,500 fans as of this writing, but the organization is looking to do more than just build up their fan count.
The president of NOM, Brian Brown, is threatening legal action against Marinelli and demanding he take down blog posts about NOM on his website, according to Talking Points Memo.
Brown has sent two emails to Marinelli, saying the former-employee has breached the confidentiality agreement he signed and that the organization is discussing their legal options.
“He’s saying that if I don’t remove the posts I’ve posted on my site and I don’t stop telling the truth about who they are he may pursue legal action,” Marinelli said. “I considered it an intimidation tactic.”
In a phone interview on Monday evening, Brown said it was “ridiculous to say that it’s a threat” and called Marinelli a “low-level contractor” and said he’s free to believe what he wants but he’s “not free to break his contract and betray his word.”
“I think he’s acted in a very dishonorable way, and obviously more importantly, legally, he’s bound by his contract and he’s not complying with that right now, so obviously with any contract we’ll follow up with appropriate action,” Brown told TPM.
“If anybody is breaking the contract so brazenly, distributing internal materials regardless of what they are, clearly we’re going to send them a cease and desist letter for doing that,” Brown said. “It’s just a total lack of professionalism, so that’s why he’s received a cease and desist letter.”
Brown said they haven’t yet decided for sure if they’ll take legal action against Marinelli, but they’re giving him “appropriate time to respond.”
While it would seem that Brown is being petty on the surface, he does have every right to protect his organization’s interest, including holding former-employees accountable for any contracts or non-disclosure agreements they may have signed.