PORTLAND — The primary organization fighting gay marriage in the United States aimed to divide the Democratic Party by driving a wedge between two key constituencies — gays and blacks, according to confidential memos unsealed in U.S. District Court in Portland.

It was part of a national strategy outlined by the National Organization for Marriage in a 2009 update to its board.

The NOM memos also called for portraying President Obama as a “social radical,” and for seeking to cast same-sex marriage in a negative light by linking it to other issues, such as pornography and sexualizing of children, The Associated Press reported.

NOM donated $1.9 million to Stand for Marriage Maine, a political action committee that successfully worked to repeal the state’s same-sex marriage law in 2009. The question of whether to legalize gay marriage will again appear on the Maine ballot this November.

After the 2009 vote, NOM filed a two-part legal challenge to a Maine law that requires it to disclose the names of its donors.

Monday’s unsealing of memos followed a ruling by the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld Maine election laws as constitutional. NOM argued that those laws are too vague and too broad. Maine law says groups that raise or spend more than $5,000 to influence elections must register and disclose their donors. The appeals court has yet to decide on the disclosure requirement.

The Human Rights Campaign, a major gay-rights organization, first circulated the unsealed NOM documents Monday night, according to The Associated Press, and its president, Joe Solmonese, assailed the strategies that they detailed.

“With the veil lifted, Americans everywhere can now see the ugly politics that the National Organization for Marriage traffics in every day,” Solmonese said. “While loving gay and lesbian couples seek to make lifelong commitments, NOM plays racial politics, tries to hide donors and makes up lies about people of faith.”

NOM’s plan for 2009-2011 includes a section called “Cultural Strategies” that discusses ways to divide gays and blacks. The goals included launching a media campaign around some African-American spokespersons’ opposition to portraying gay marriage as a civil right.

“Find, equip, energize and connect African-American spokespeople for marriage; develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots,” one memo said.

Other ideas include “fanning the hostility” in the aftermath of Proposition 8, the 2008 California ballot question that restricted marriage to heterosexual couples.

Latinos are an increasingly important group because of their demographic growth and because of the possibility that assimilation will lead them to “abandon traditional family values,” according to the documents.

“We must interrupt this process of assimilation by making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity — a symbol of resistance to inappropriate assimilation,” the memo said.

The Latino Identity Project would also reach out to younger generations and work with leaders on the campuses of Ivy League and similar colleges. Glamorous young Latinos, such as artists and celebrities, and attractive young black Democrats should be found to promote the cause, the memo stated.

NOM issued a statement Tuesday saying it was proud of its work with minorities and leaders from different backgrounds.

“Gay-marriage advocates have attempted to portray same-sex marriage as a civil right, but the voices of these and many other leaders have provided powerful witness that this claim is patently false,” Brian Brown, NOM president, said in the statement. “Gay marriage is not a civil right, and we will continue to point this out in written materials such as those released in Maine. We proudly bring together people of difference races, creeds and colors to fight for our most fundamental institution: marriage.”

Other aims outlined in the memo included exposing developing side issues to weaken leaders who support same-sex marriage, nurturing scholars and making “traditional sexual morality intellectually respectable again in elite culture.”

In 2009, the Democratic-controlled Maine Legislature passed a same-sex marriage bill that Gov. John Baldacci signed into law. Voters then repealed it, 53 percent to 47 percent.

The information revealed in the memo was not surprising, but underscored the different approaches of the two sides on the issue, said Matt McTighe, campaign director of Mainers United for Marriage, a political action committee formed in support of this year’s state ballot question to legalize same-sex marriage. The PAC was launched Monday, he said, following positive reaction to its position.

“To see it in black and white I hope will call more attention to the types of tactics (that) opponents of marriage for gays and lesbians have to rely on to scare voters,” he said. “We expect they’re going to continue to do it in Maine.”

Michael Heath, one of the founders of the newly formed No Special Rights PAC, said he did not know whether the group would receive support from NOM in the current campaign. He said the civil rights argument of NOM was relevant in Maine despite its small minority populations.

“We believe that sodomy — homosexuality — is an immoral behavior and is not the basis upon which a positive legal right can be granted. That’s why we say ‘No Special Rights,’ ” said Heath, who formed the group with Paul Madore, another longtime opponent of same-sex marriage.

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at: akim@pressherald.com

Twitter: AnnKimPPH