Did NOM’s Brian Brown Violate US Law By Collaborating With Russian Legislators On Gay Adoption Ban?


As previously reported, National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown made a secret trip to Russia in June to meet with members of the Russian Duma. Joined by five French-Catholic anti-gay activists, Brown advocated for legislation that would ban gay foreigners, including gay Americans, from adopting Russian children. However, doing so may have been a violation of U.S. law.

Fred Karger, President of Rights Equal Rights, has written to Secretary of State John Kerry and Attorney General Eric Holder asking them to investigate whether Brown's trip violated the Logan Act. Passed in 1799 and amended as recently as 1994, the Logan Act is a "federal statute making it a crime for a citizen to confer with foreign governments against the interests of the United States":

"Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both."

Brown even spoke to Russia 1’s Vesti news program while in Moscow. According to Right Wing Watch, Brown told reporters:

"Right now you’re having the fight about adoption, but the adoption issue is indivisible from the marriage issue. If you don’t defend your values now, I’m afraid we’re going to see very negative developments all over the world."

Five days after Brown gave a "remarkable speech" in the Russian Duma, that same body passed a bill that banned gay couples and single parents in countries that allow gay marriage from adopting Russian children.

It is unclear at this time whether Secretary Kerry or Attorney General Holder will investigate Brown's trip and if so whether they will level charges against him.

You can read Karger's full letter HERE.


  1. scott says

    While Fred Karger has made some great points in the past while running as an independent candidate, and in his campaigns against NOM, this is a bit far-fetched. Don’t get me wrong, Brian Brown is some twisted, obsessed crazy dude for doing all that he has done, but his advocacy in Russia does not fit the definition of working against US interests. It’s awful, and misguided, and has already demonstrated that the Kremlin is looking for a scapegoat to focus their population’s interests and displeasure elsewhere, but it isn’t actually working against our government. Now, were he to have done what Scott Lively did, and advise a foreign nation to persecute and harass a minority, then he could be open to civil litigation. If Brian Brown continues this type of advocacy, he may well do so.

    Of course, I’m not a constitutional attorney, so maybe someone else could speak better on this. Just sayin, don’t think AG Holder is going to bother with this- or that he could, if he wanted to do so.

  2. Mary says

    I don’t know whether BB violated any laws by going to Russia and advocating what he did. But if so he should be prosecuted. Social conservatives have to obey the law. Same was everyone else.

  3. Bill says

    Given that only one indictment under the Logan act ever occurred (in 1803), I really don’t think Brian Brown has anything to worry about. The 1803 indictment was for a newspaper article arguing for the Western U.S. to be a separate country allied with France. While there was an indictment, there was no prosecution.

    If push came to shove, the Logan Act would probably be declared unconstitutional – it forbids people from expressing personal opinions in conversations with foreign governments. It is far broader than a law that prohibits a person from misrepresenting himself as a U.S. official or spokesperson.

    Indicting Brown under the Logan Act would be a very bad idea – he would be able to use an indictment to pass himself off as a defender of free speech, and he’d end up with enough name recognition to run for office.

  4. Randy says

    Even though there has only been one indictment, it has been threatened against numerous people more recently. The workding is fairly broad, so it may in fact cover what Brown did.

    Regardless of whether the law is unconsittuional, it IS the law of the land right now, and there is a colorable point of action to be taken here. I say have Holder file charges against him and let the courts figure it out. It’s what they are there for.

    At the least, it will run up legal bills that Brown has to pay, put the fear of god into him, and during discovery we can find out exactly what he told the Russians and find out who was backing him.

  5. macguffin54 says

    lol David, I have seen that nail fungus ad on a number of sites, too (though, thankfully, not yet on this one.) It’s good at getting people’s attention, but who would click on it after seeing it?

    But let me get back on topic… Look at it this way, every time you see Brian Brown you’ll think of toenail fungus (if you didn’t already).

  6. Bravo says

    Now hold on… if this guy is potentially facing criminal charges for his actions how come they didn’t bring this up when those American christian fundies collaborated with Uganda and their “kill the gays” bill? Isn’t that the same thing?

  7. Bill says

    @Randy: if Brian Brown were indicted, which is statistically highly unlikely, he could probably get the ACLU to defend him on free speech grounds.

    It’s an idiotic law. I’ll give one example of how it could be misused. Suppose a U.S. climatologist is hired by the British to predict the effects of global warming, with specific concern about what portions of the U.K. might be flooded, and what controls on greenhouse-gas emissions are needed to prevent that. He spends 2000 hours of CPU time on the fastest supercomputer he can get his hands on. Then (before the project is completed), the idiot electorate elects a global-warming-denying Tea Party guy as our president, and he wants no limits at all. So, should the researcher not give his client the report he promised? Or should he risk being sent to jail as a repressive Department of Justice tries to use the Logan Act to throw him in jail because the results aren’t what the Tea Party President wants?

  8. Skip says

    You hope he did don’t you? You’re the gay secret police. He cost a lot of American psychiatrists a ton of money. The real fun comes when the cracks in your perfect reality start to become exposed. Give it about two years.

  9. SouthJerseySteve says

    I think it’s funny that BB violated the law by going to Russia to have intercourse with the Russians (go back and read the law in the article).

  10. David C says

    “It is unclear at this time whether Secretary Kerry or Attorney General Holder will investigate Brown’s trip and if so whether they will level charges against him.”

    Shame on you, Scott Mandell for writing such rubbish. Secretaries of State don’t bring legal charges against anyone. And there is nothing here to investigate.

    Scott above is correct: Brown’s opinions on same-sex marriage and adoption do not touch on the interests of the United States.

    His opinions may differ from those of the current administration; they may differ from those of most Americans. They may be at odds with most US laws on these topics. All of that is irrelevant. He has a perfect right to his opinions and to express them to anyone willing to listen.

    In writing his letter, Karger is being a gay fascist.

  11. anon says

    The Logan Act was set up largely to facilitate treaty making, but has almost never been enforced. It would have be very limited to not violate the first amendment. The essential goal of the Logan Act is to prevent misrepresentation. That is, someone going overseas to initiate treaty negotiations on their own by misrepresenting that they are negotiating on behalf of the US. Since informal negotiations are quite common, and use back-channels, it’s important to prevent individuals from self-dealing.

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