Publicly, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has said they’re not worried about Louis Marinelli — the former employee who defected from the group and changed his viewpoint on same-sex marriage — even writing that they “wish him well” with his “different focus.” But behind the scenes, the president of NOM is threatening legal action against Marinelli and demanding he take down blog posts about NOM on his website.
We first got wind of the legal threats NOM President Brian Brown made against Marinelli in this interview he did with blogger Mike Signorile. So we followed up with Marinelli to get the details and he passed along emails Brown sent on April 13 and 14.
In one April 13 email that Marinelli provided to TPM, Brown warned him that NOM was discussing options with their legal counsel and attached a copy of the confidentiality agreement Marinelli signed with the group.
“I wanted to provide you a copy of the confidentiality agreement that you signed when becoming an independent contractor for NOM,” Brown wrote in the email. “Given your recent public statements, it appears you are violating this agreement. We are discussing with our legal counsel further action. In the meantime, as with all current and former independent contractors, we expect you to honor your agreement.”
Then on April 14, Brown wrote to say that Marinelli’s website “now contains a number of articles and interviews that are clearly a breach of contract.”
“In order to comply with your non-disclosure agreement all articles that discuss internal NOM matters or your work with NOM must be immediately removed,” Brown wrote.
“I wrote to you … in order to live up to that dictum in Scripture to go to your brother first when he wrongs you,” Brown said. “However, you seem not to be taking seriously either your own word or the legal repercussions of breach of contract.”
“If you persist in breaching your contract and do not immediately remove any items from your website that are a breach of contract we will have no other course of action other than to refer this matter to our attorneys,” he wrote.
In his interview with Signorile, Marinelli said Brown was “trying to intimidate me to stop talking.”
“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.”
“He’s free to do whatever he wishes to do, but I think that wherever you are people expect someone to abide by their word and engage in fair play and act honorably,” Brown said.