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Firebrand Maggie Gallagher steps down at the National Organization for Marriage

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MahurinPointing_Thumb1_1656.jpg

She has been a fierce presence in the trenches of national culture wars over the past few years but now Maggie Gallagher, National Organization for Marriage co-founder and chairman of the board, is stepping down. NOM announced Gallagher will be replaced by John Eastman, legal defender of social conservative causes, former Clarence Thomas Supreme Court clerk and Dean of Chapman University Law School in California.

Gallagher founded NOM in 2007 as the battle over extending marriage rights to gay couples heated up in statehouses and on voter ballots around the country. Gallagher has been a lightning rod figure. She has appeared repeatedly to testify on marriage on Capitol Hill and has written on the subject for many of the nation’s top news publications. Gallagher has a degree in religious studies from Yale. She often speaks in condemnatory ways about homosexuality, in the eyes of many stretching science and mixing it with religious beliefs.

She has, for example, cited studies inaccurately to make the case that children being brought up by gay couples face increased risks of abuse and has mostly ignored or downplayed research that has found children raised by gay parents flourish according to all the current measures by which social scientists rate the health and happiness of children. She has called homosexuality an “unfortunate thing” and “at minimum, a sexual dysfunction.”

Gallagher’s testimony at a hearing on the Defense of Marriage Act this spring drew attention for her conciliatory tone. Detractors suggested it was a sharp break with much of her writing and public speaking.

NOM has enjoyed major successes in battling pro-gay marriage legislation around the country and has also famously skirted financial disclosure laws, saying it aims to protect its donors from the reprisals of gay activists. Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family, now struggling financially, has heavily supported NOM efforts.

Early reports suggest Eastman will be a strong replacement for Gallagher and may be better prepared for the legal wrangling to come as the federal Defense of Marriage Act hangs in the balance, placed into a sort of legal limbo after the Obama Justice Department announced it would no longer fight court challenges to the law, which it views as unconstitutional.

The release from NOM, announcing the change:

Washington, DC – The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) announced today that John Eastman, a distinguished Constitutional law scholar, is taking on the role of Chairman of the Board for NOM.

Dr. John Eastman is the former Dean of Chapman University Law School in California and is the Founding Director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, a public interest law firm associated with the Claremont Institute. He has participated in over 50 cases in our nation’s highest courts, including such landmark cases as the Pledge of Allegiance case, the Boy Scouts of America case, the Ohio school vouchers case, the Kelo case involving property takings, and the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act case. Dr. Eastman is a former clerk to United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. He received his J.D. from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in government and political philosophy from Claremont Graduate School.

Brian Brown, President of NOM, stated, “John Eastman is one of America’s foremost constitutional scholars and has distinguished himself as a fierce advocate for families and religious liberty. As a legal scholar, he has participated in dozens of cases before our nation’s highest courts, including the United States Supreme Court. When important constitutional principles are on the line, people frequently turn to John Eastman to advocate a conservative, pro-family position. He will be a great asset to NOM.”

John Eastman stated, “Marriage has quite correctly been described as a bedrock of civilization. Protecting the institution of marriage is a critically important issue, and I’m honored to join such distinguished company on the Board of such a phenomenally effective organization as the National Organization for Marriage.”

Maggie Gallagher, the previous Chairman of the Board, stated, “My original intention in co-founding the National Organization for Marriage was to launch a politically sophisticated national activist organization to fight for the views of millions of Americans who believe that marriage is and should remain the union of husband and wife. I think it’s fair to say that NOM has been launched, and is now far more successful than even I dreamed (and I dreamed big!). I’m grateful to NOM’s President Brian Brown for leading this organization, and the addition of an eminent public intellectual like John Eastman to the NOM team is a great sign as we move forward to the battles ahead.”

“I will remain on the NOM board, and continue to work on specific projects for NOM, as well as taking on some additional outside projects I’ve long deferred, such as finishing my book Debating Same-Sex Marriage¸ which I’ve been working on for Oxford University Press with Prof. John Corvino,” Gallagher added.

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