We all need to start paying attention to the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and The Family Research Council.

In their ceaseless attempts to prevent gay people from enjoying the same legal rights that they take for granted themselves, they've done something unprecedented, something potentially so damaging to the fabric of the nation that its consequences have yet to be discerned.

This isn't hyperbole.

"Seventy-four judges were up for retention in Iowa and only the three who imposed same-sex 'marriage' on the state are now unemployed. Coincidence?" crowed Family Research Council executive director Tony Perkins last week.

Funded by unidentified donors from out of state, NOM and other anti-gay groups spent an estimated $1 million on attack ads that ultimately unseated three Iowa Supreme Court justices for ruling that the state constitution applied equally to heterosexuals and homosexuals, and that both groups should have an equal right to marry.

For making this principled stand these judges were thrown off the bench. Say farewell to your independent judiciary. On his blog today, the Former Speaker of the House, Republican Newt Gingrich, praised what he called this “unprecedented and largely unreported decision.”

Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California, Irvine, School of Law, told the New York Times: “What is so disturbing about this is that it really might cause judges in the future to be less willing to protect minorities out of fear that they might be voted out of office. Something like this really does chill other judges.”

This, simply put, is mob rule. This means if you protect an unpopular minority against the tyranny of the majority from now on you better look over your shoulder. Your job and your future might be on the line.

In the process of attacking gays NOM and their fellow travelers are opening up new and troubling rifts in the national fabric they claim to be defending.

The net effect is a chilling one on the future of legislation to protect minorities through the courts, which is, after all, the source of every important piece of legislation that has improved the rights and lives of minorities.