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Anti-gay crusader changes mind, kills National Organization for Marriage Facebook page

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Louis J. Marinelli

As gay marriage inexorably moves into the mainstream, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has been in the news a lot. In 2009, they ran an ad featuring then-Miss California Carrie Prejean's homophobic views; last December, a NOM activist tried to "reclaim the rainbow" from its gay associations; and recently they vowed to make gay marriage a wedge issue in the 2012 presidential election. (As you can see, their operations run the gamut from large-scale national initiatives to, um, more personal work.) They also recently attacked Dan Savage, which always leads to some entertaining fireworks.

In any case, NOM is the country's largest anti-gay-marriage group, but as of today, that's going to be a lot harder for them to prove, because the guy they appointed to run their Facebook page just had a change of heart and deleted it, costing them around 290,000 fans. On his own website, former NOM admin Louis Marinelli (above) posted a dramatic statement titled "I now support full marriage equality." Here's part of it:

[I have] spent the last five years putting all of my political will, interest and energy into fighting against the spread of same-sex marriage as if it were a contagious disease… If there is an issue of shame, it is a result of acknowledging the number of people I have targeted, hurt and oppressed… [on a NOM visit to Atlanta] the hundreds of counter-protesters who showed up were nothing short of inspiring… the lesbian and gay people whom I made a profession out of opposing became real people for me almost instantly. For the first time I had empathy for them and remember asking myself what I was doing… I really came to understand that gays and lesbians were just real people who wanted to live real lives and be treated equally as opposed to, for example, wanting to destroy American culture… My name is Louis J. Marinelli, a conservative-Republican and I now support full civil marriage equality. The constitution calls for nothing less.

It's not clear how much damage Marinelli's Facebook sabotage will do (did the people who oppose gay marriage really get a lot of mileage out of posting their anti-gay-marriage YouTube clips on NOM's wall?), but it won't be easy for them to rebuild. They've scrambled to set up a new page, but as of now, it only has about 500 followers. With acceptance of gay marriage gradually rising, how many of those 290,000 will feel compelled to rejoin the cause?