Gay marriage friends and foes have
begun their showdown on the airwaves in California. Both sides have
ads running in most markets in an attempt to influence voters on a
November 4th constitutional amendment that would ban gay
marriage in the state.
Opponents of gay marriage hit the
ground running with an initial $10 million ad buy that started on
The first Yes-on-8 (Proposition 8)
commercial to air begins with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom at a
May 15th rally at City Hall, where he is seen celebrating
the state Supreme Court's decision legalizing gay marriage.
“This door's wide open now. It's
going to happen – whether you like it or not,” Newsom declares to
a cheering crowd.
The reason for Newsom's inclusion in
the video is obvious: He appears self-satisfied and smug as he
declares, “Whether you like it or not.”
Producers of the 30-second spot
immediately pounced on the cocky image of gay marriage's most ardent
ally, using it freely throughout. When a female announcer says, “We
don't have to accept this [gay marriage],” Newsom reappears and
boisterously declares, “Whether you like it or not.”
The ad warns that without Proposition
8, people would be sued over personal beliefs, churches could loose
their tax exemption, and gay marriage would be taught in public
Gavin Newsom is often credited with
opening gay marriage in California. In 2004, he ordered San
Francisco clerks to issue marriage licenses to gay couples against
state law. Those marriages were eventually invalidated by the state
Supreme Court. But a May decision by the court found a 2000
voter-approved gay marriage ban unconstitutional. Since then
thousands of gay couples have wed in the Golden State.
Newsom continues to be actively
involved in the gay marriage fight, even as he prepares to run for
governor in 2010.
“These people make their careers
attacking people like me,” Newsom told the Los Angeles Times.
“This effort is so much bigger than me. It is about real people.
It is about denying people their civil right.”
He called the ad “classic
Supporters of gay marriage have also
taken to the airwaves with their own ad featuring pro-gay group
Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) board
member Sam Thoron and his wife Julia speaking out in support of gay
marriage and against Proposition 8.
The Thorons make a sincere and
heartfelt pitch for gay marriage, “All we have ever wanted for our
[lesbian] daughter is that she be treated with the same dignity and
respect as her brothers – with the same freedoms and
responsibilities as every other Californian.”
PFLAG's Steve Ralls wrote at the
Huffington Post about the idea to use parent advocates in the
commercial, “It may be parents who are able to best make the case
for marriage equality. Who, after all, knows what's best for their
kids more than they do?”
While the ad's straightforward appeal
by the No-on-8 campaign attempts to charm over undecided voters, a
Californians Against Hate advertisement is decidedly bloodier.
In that ad, an innocent looking little
girl counts the pedals she is plucking off a daisy. It is eerily
reminiscent of the 1964 President Johnson commercial that ends with
the detonation of a nuclear bomb, which was so frightening it ran
The bomb in this ad is San Diego
businessman Terry Caster, who became the group's second target when
he donated $293,000 to gay marriage foes at the Protect Marriage
campaign. The group organized a call-in campaign that encourages
people to call Caster and ask him why he donated so much money
against gay marriage.
In the 43-second ad, to ominous music,
our innocent-looking girl does the asking, “Why did you give so
much money away grandpa?”
Campaign Manager Fred Karger called the
ad “ground breaking,” and encouraged television stations to
download a copy for broadcast at their website