Wedding Bell Blues:
TV, print spots include Obama, Republican veteran speaking out for same-sex couples
by Seth Hemmelgarn
The Respect for Marriage Coalition has launched a bipartisan national ad campaign that includes clips of President Barack Obama, former Vice President Dick Cheney, and others.
The first TV ad, which also shows ex-Secretary of Defense Colin Powell, began airing February 20.
A new spot featuring a Republican military veteran named Craig Stowell began airing last weekend, replacing the first commercial.
In the ad, Stowell, a former Marine corporal, speaks about his gay brother, Calvin.
"As Americans, we believe in freedom and equal treatment," Stowell says in the commercial. "That's what I fought for as a Marine, and that's what we believe as Republicans. But freedom means freedom for everyone. ... It's only fair that Calvin should have the freedom to marry the person he loves, too."
According to the coalition of more than 80 organizations, including chairs the Human Rights Campaign and Freedom to Marry, the effort marks the first time that LGBT advocacy groups across the country America have worked to fund a national ad buy. Local organizations that have joined the coalition include the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Transgender Law Center.
The ad comes shortly after Obama spoke out for same-sex marriage rights in his January inaugural address. Additionally, pro-gay marriage legislation is pending in a number of states, and the U.S. Supreme Court is set to decide this summer on marriage equality.
In March, the court will hear oral arguments on the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8 same-sex marriage ban and the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act.
The spots are airing on cable and during Sunday talk shows and are accompanied by full-page print versions. The coalition plans to spend more than $1 million to keep the ads running.
"The Respect for Marriage Coalition hopes to keep building on this momentum for the freedom to marry by raising awareness about growing support and encouraging Americans from across the political spectrum to get involved," backers said in a statement.
Initially, former first lady Laura Bush was in the first ad, but her office requested that she be removed from the campaign.
For more information, visit http://www.respectformarriage.org.
Oregon activists push for same-sex marriage rights
Marriage equality activists in Oregon are making progress in their efforts to win marriage rights for same-sex couples in their state. The Oregon United for Marriage coalition announced Tuesday, February 19 that it had collected more than the 1,000 valid signatures that were required to get a title and summary for their proposed measure to put on the ballot.
The group hopes to get the "Freedom to Marry and Religious Protection Initiative" onto the November 2014 ballot. The initiative would repeal the state's same-sex marriage ban and replace it with a constitutional provision that recognizes and protects marriage rights for all Oregonians. The proposal includes protections for religious entities that don't support same-sex unions.
Once a ballot title is approved, Oregon United for Marriage can begin collecting the 116,284 valid signatures required to qualify for the ballot.
"We are united in our belief that allowing marriage licenses for same-sex couples strengthens families and strengthens the state we love," a statement from the coalition said. "And we are united in our hope that the people of Oregon will join us in supporting the freedom to marry for all of Oregon's loving, committed same-sex couples."
Jeanna Frazzini, executive director of Basic Rights Oregon and chief petitioner in the statewide effort, didn't respond to an interview request.
For more information, visit http://www.oregonunitedformarriage.org.
Wedding Bell Blues is an online column looking at various issues related to the marriage equality fight in California and elsewhere. Please send column ideas or tips to Seth Hemmelgarn at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (415) 861-5019. Wedding Bell Blues appears every other Tuesday.