Antigay ad campaign launched in Jersey

Antigay ad campaign launched in Jersey

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An organization dedicated to fighting same-sex marriage launched a new advertising effort last week that targets the states it sees as the next battlegrounds for marriage equality, including New Jersey.

At a press conference in Trenton last week, Maggie Gallagher, president of the Princeton-based National Organization for Marriage, announced the group’s new “Two Million for Marriage” initiative, in which the organization pledges to enlist two million marriage-equality opponents over the next two years to fight against proposed same-sex marriage legislation in numerous states.

To achieve this objective, the group launched a $1.5-million national advertising campaign that seeks to warn Americans of what it sees as the damaging effects of same-sex marriage. The centerpiece of the effort is a television commercial, “Gathering Storm,” that began airing last week in New Jersey, Connecticut, Iowa, Rhode Island and New York.

The spot features about a dozen individuals, against a background of ominous clouds and lightning, who predict that the expansion of LGBT rights — not just marriage equality — are threatening to restrict religious liberties and that “a storm is gathering, the clouds are dark and the wind is strong.”

One woman describes that she is a California doctor who has been forced to choose between her religious beliefs and her job, referring to the 2008 California Supreme Court ruling that found that a medical center that denied fertility treatment to a lesbian violated the state’s nondiscrimination law. Another woman relates that she is forced to send her son to a school in their home state of Massachusetts that teaches that same-sex marriage is acceptable, based on the decision by a federal judge in the state that affirms school districts’ ability to teach about diversity issues. The ad also features a man who says he’s a member of a New Jersey church group that’s been penalized for opposing same-sex marriage, which references the controversy over the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, which had its tax-exempt status revoked because it refused to rent a beachfront pavilion it operates to a lesbian couple for their civil union.

Although the legal cases referenced in the ad are realistic, the individuals who tell the stories are actors, which NOM states at the bottom of the commercial.

Shortly after NOM released the ad, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT organization, announced it had obtained copies of audition tapes for the ads. The auditions were posted on YouTube, but NOM alleged copyright infringement and the videos were removed.

“This ad is full of outrageous falsehoods and they don’t even come out of the mouths of real people,” said Brad Luna, HRC spokesperson.

HRC released detailed descriptions of the three cases featured in the ad this week and is devoting a portion of its site, which is dedicated to breaking down myths and distortions about the LGBT community, to the NOM video and Gallagher.

NOM did not respond to requests for comment.

NOM is reaching out to its supporters through an organized fundraising campaign on its Web site. The commercial is set to run up to eight times a day in each state at a cost of $1,000 for each airing.

Jen Colletta can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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