For years the main joke about the American Family Association’s bombastically overstated One Million Moms (OMM) has involved its name itself. For obvious reasons. When an organization gives itself a grandiose name like that, the comedy is built-in.
But after a weekend where we watched a popular American brand, The Hallmark Channel, temporarily duped into believing that the organization’s constant bark was really an effective bite, it is time to move past the jokes and state the obvious about this organization: it is basically One Meddling Mom with an agenda, and no company should be giving her the credence she so desperately craves.
Her name is Monica Cole. In the decade that I have been aware of One Million Moms, she is quite literally the only staff member I have ever heard anyone name. She is the one and only person who appears on their petitions, as well as the one and only person who speaks for them to the media. She is the mom. Her. Solo. One person, supposedly representing one million.
One Meddling Mom has issued so many calls and condemnations over the years, it’s become easy to tune them out. As GLAAD has arduously detailed, OMM has gone after everything from recent blockbuster Toy Story 4 for including a seconds-long clip of a supposed lesbian couple that quite literally no one but them noticed, to Chips Ahoy for a Twitter ad featuring a Rupaul’s Drag Race star. Basically if a company hires, recognizes, features, or in any way supports an LGBTQ person, One Meddling Mom will issue a petition, claim to have millions of supporters behind her, and then start cranking the AFA machine in hopes of getting some sort of press for her campaign-of-the-week. OMM even uses a conservative PR firm, Hamilton Strategies, to help spread this message to a wider public.
Sadly, because nonsense will forever grab headlines, OMM is pretty capable when it comes to getting ink. It’s typically dismissive, if not outright derisive, press. Most often the anti-LGBTQ campaign to which it is attached goes absolutely nowhere and the company under attack continues right along serving its entire customer base rather than cutting out the share that AFA/OMM believes to be anti-godly mistakes. Still, Monica Cole and her minuscule operation that masquerades as “millions” does get people talking.
It’s easy to be fooled into thinking the organization is larger than it is. But let’s look at some evidence:
- The Internet ranking site Alexa (not to be confused with your in-home listening device) gives OneMillionMoms.com a ranking of #1,133,944 in global internet engagement. That is extremely low. For comparison’s sake, GLAAD’s own page has a ranking that is ten times higher ranking than theirs.
- One Million Moms has only 4,200 Twitter followers. Sure, not everyone uses social media, and it might even be fair to say that OMM’s target audience uses it at a lower rate. But 4,200 followers? For a squad of supposedly one million? That follow rate doesn’t add up.
- Searching social media, it is really hard to find prominent voices speaking out in favor of OMM’s campaigns. You can find all kinds of pro-LGBTQ people pushing back against OMM, in ways ranging from funny to snarky to serious to whatever unclassifiable thing Cole Escola does. But even though Social Conservative Twitter is a reliably outspoken bunch, it’s pretty tough to find any sort of goodwill support for OMM. That would not be the case if they had anywhere near the support base they claim to have.
- American Family Association petitions have been skewed for years. Regardless of how you fill out an AFA petition, they will count you as a supporter. So if you weigh in with pushback, thinking you are going to open their eyes and change their minds, you will simply get a “Thank you for supporting us!” and your reply will be counted as support. I still get emails addressed to “Mr. Stop Hating,” the name I used for an AFA petition that I “supported” (read: trolled) a full fifteen years ago. So whenever they say they have X number of signatures, you can be sure that a sizable percentage are people who wanted to deliver a message on a forum where the petition is the only open communication channel.
Every once in a while, a company allows itself to be deafened by the bark, believing it to instead be bite. That’s what happened with The Hallmark Channel before they reversed course. Because of these minor “victories,” Monica Cole and her PR arm are able to push the illusion even further.
But an illusion it is, and we need to call it out. Here on the side of equality, our ranks are much larger, our voices are much louder, and our cause is infinitely more righteous. And many of us are moms and dads ourselves, and we know that Monica Cole’s crude bigotry is not a family value. It is time we tell One Meddling Mom to not only stop attacking our families, but to also stop bearing false witness about her operation.