Louis Marinelli, a key strategist for the anti-gay marriage group National Organization for Marriage (NOM), has defected.

According to the gay website GoodAsYou.org, Marinelli was a “major component” of last year's Summer for Marriage 2010 tour. He “drove the RV, blogged the whole thing, and provided general support for the road bound NOM.” Marinelli is also given credit as the group's online strategist.

In an email exchange with the website, Marinelli said he's walking away from the group.

“Whether it is an issue of disbelief, shame or embarrassment, the one thing that is for sure is that I have come to this point after several months of internal conflict with myself,” he said. “That conflict gradually tore away at me until recently when I was able to, for the first time simply admit to myself that I do in fact support civil marriage equality for all.”

“I was the one behind the 2010 Summer for Marriage Tour which the National Organization for Marriage sponsored and operated throughout July and August last year.” (A video of Marinelli on the tour is embedded in the right panel of this page.)

Marinelli said that seeing hundreds of counters protesters at an Atlanta tour stop was “inspiring.”

“Even though I had been confronted by the counter-protesters throughout the marriage tour, 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.”

“The negative thing about NOM's work is that it diverts our attention from what is important to preventing a group of people from obtaining civil marriage licenses,” he added. “We have to stop seeing things in black and white all the time and that is, I'm afraid, what NOM does in terms of marriage. The world isn't black and white, it's yellow, it's green, it's purple, it's red, it's blue. It is, in fact, all of the colors of the rainbow and that's what makes up our world and that's why the rainbow flag represents not only the gay rights movement but the diversity the gay community brings to this world.”