By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 19, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – After just three years of existence, one of the forefront organizations for defending the natural institution of marriage is announcing a changing of the guard. Maggie Gallagher, president and co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage, has announced that she is stepping down as president and placing the organization in the hands of NOM executive director Brian Brown.

“In promoting Brian Brown to President, we are recognizing Brian’s extraordinary record of achievement in NOM’s phenomenal growth and record of success,” said Gallagher in a statement.

Gallagher will remain on the Executive Committee of the Board of NOM, and will continue to work for NOM directing the organization’s cultural and strategic projects.

Gallagher told LifeSiteNews.com in a telephone interview that “it was always my plan” to step down. “I’ve never had a desire to run a large political and activist organization. I don’t think it is particularly my gift," said Gallagher.

She said that as NOM’s political profile continues to grow, it “seemed to make sense” at this point in NOM’s evolution to make clear that Brown is not a “junior partner”– both of them have always worked closely together as colleagues – but in fact has full responsibility for leading the organization.

“I would say this promotion is very little difference in what I do for NOM. It is more informing the rest of the world that Brian is in fact a principal of NOM, and that he has been directing NOM, particular NOM’s political operations," she said.

The decision to step down as President, Gallagher said, will not really change her commitment to NOM. She said she will continue to do her work of fundraising, message development, spotting strategic opportunities, and connecting with coalition partners.

Gallagher said that she first met Brown at a panel for same-sex “marriage” in Philadelphia, where she identified his leadership skills immediately and his strategic vision for a national organization which could fight the battle for marriage on the state and federal levels.

“The main thing that made me perk up and take notice was when he said, ‘We need a Club for Growth for marriage,’” related Gallagher. “And that’s what made me sit up and I said, ‘he gets it, if we’re going to talk like we’re involved in politics, we need to be actually involved in politics.”

“So Brian was extremely integral to the foundation and the growth of NOM from the beginning,” she said.

The promotion of Brown, however, has also served to highlight the enormous expansion the organization has achieved over three years, with exponential growth in donors and activists committed to its mission to defend marriage in the United States.

With Brown as executive director, NOM helped fight to get Proposition 8 on the ballot in California and approved by the voters in 2008. Its second major political battle was helping pro-marriage, pro-family advocates overturn a bill legalizing same-sex “marriage” in Maine through a “people’s veto”  at the ballot box in 2009. NOM was also engaged in successfully putting pressure on legislators from New York and New Jersey – both socially liberal states – to reject same-sex “marriage” bills.