Pro-prop. 8 ads inundate TV
Posted on October 11, 2008
Filed Under Uncategorized
An excited young girl tells her mother that her teacher told her “I can marry a princess.”
A woman asks her friend whether she’s willing “to eliminate rights and have our laws treat people differently.”
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom loudly proclaims that same-sex marriage is coming to California, “like it or not.”
Campaigns on each side of Proposition 8, the proposed same-sex marriage ban, are spending 30 seconds – and millions of dollars – on TV ads to get the story they want out to voters, sometimes with little regard for the fine print.
In the past two weeks, backers of Prop. 8 have saturated the airwaves with a pair of hard-hitting ads, including one featuring Newsom, warning Californians that supporters of traditional marriage will be sued over their personal beliefs, that churches opposed to same-sex marriage could lose their tax exemptions and that “gay marriage will be taught in public schools” if Prop. 8 loses on Nov. 4.
“People watch TV,” said Chip White, a spokesman for the Prop. 8 campaign. “The ads are doing a good job of dramatizing the threat. It lets people know there are real consequences to not passing Prop. 8.”
How real those consequences are depends on who’s being asked.
“We’re concerned when people spend millions of dollars to lie to Californians,” said Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California and a leader in the anti-Prop. 8 fight. “These charges are lies, and the other campaign knows it.”
Kors and others argue that same-sex marriage will have no effect on churches, schools or opponents of such unions. Massachusetts has allowed same-sex marriage since 2004, and churches there still have tax exemptions and people still complain about it without being forced into court.
A letter sent out this week by lawyers for the Prop. 8 opposition urged television stations not to run the ad featuring the young girl and her mother, saying it was false and misleading to say that “teaching children about gay marriage will happen here unless we pass Proposition 8.”
A new ad aired by Prop. 8 foes accuses their opponents of using scare tactics.
“They want to eliminate rights, and they’re using lies to persuade you,” the ad warns.
Opponents of the marriage ban have taken a different track with their ads, putting out a low-key trio of spots with gays and lesbians virtually invisible.
The campaign’s opening ad featured a traditional couple married 46 years, urging viewers not to take away their gay daughter’s right to marry. An ad featuring two women at a table mentions an unseen niece and her same-sex partner, but makes made it clear the women talking aren’t a lesbian couple.
Even the ad challenging the charges of the pro-Prop. 8 campaign manages to do it without ever using the words gay, lesbian or same-sex.
“Keep government out of all our lives,” the ad says. “Don’t eliminate marriage for anyone.”
But quiet, thoughtful ads, even when they make important points, have a hard time cutting through the noisy clutter of a hard-fought political campaign, said Barbara O’Connor, a professor of political communication at Sacramento State University.
“Low-key and subtle doesn’t work in an election year where people already are very frightened about the economy,” she said. “Ads have to be memorable, and people are not going to want to see them in a cerebral manner.”
The pro-Prop. 8 ads, on the other hand, are purposely over the top, said Larry Gerston, a political science professor at San Jose State University.
“They appeal to the Reagan Democrats, people who might vote for Obama, but will not vote for more permissive rules,” he said.
More importantly, the harsher, more intense pro-Prop. 8 ads seem to be working, despite the complaints about their accuracy. Even opponents say their own polls have shifted dramatically since that advertising began, giving the same-sex marriage ban a small lead for the first time in the campaign.
See Pro-prop. 8 ads inundate TV
Protect Marriage – Yes on Prop 8 Campaign Releases Second …
Thou Shalt Not Lie: An ad campaign with iffy facts gets $1 million from the Knights of Columbus.
East Bay Church Votes to Oppose Prop 8, Plans ‘Mass’ Blessing of Weddings Between Same-Sex Couples
Foes of gay-marriage ban say poll shows Prop. 8 leading