A new radio spot released Wednesday by gay marriage foes urges Minnesotans to elect Republican Tom Emmer their next governor.

The ad, backed by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the nation's most vociferous opponent of gay marriage, and the Minnesota Family Council, touts Emmer's opposition to gay marriage. (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page.)

The 30-second ad invokes the legacy of slain civil rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In the ad, we hear King say “Give us the ballot” as a female announcer calls the right to vote our most important civil right.

“Yet some politicians in Minnesota want to impose gay marriage without a vote of the people,” she adds.

“We want the voters of Minnesota to know the facts about their rights and where the candidates stand on marriage,” Brian Brown, president of NOM, said in a statement. “Just as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for the civil rights of Americans, we echo his words to give people the ballot and let the people vote!”

Gay rights have become a major issue in deciding who'll follow Republican Tim Pawlenty, an opponent of gay marriage, as governor of the state.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest gay rights advocate, contributed $150,000 to pro-gay candidates in Minnesota, including Dayton, after retail giant Target gave an equal amount of money to MN Forward, an independent political fund supporting Emmer.

NOM is also investing heavily in the state. It started running ads in the spring against Democrats who support gay marriage. In September, it released an Emmer television ad that also used King's civil rights legacy.