Karen Ocamb

No on Prop 8 Ad Hits California Airwaves

Filed By Karen Ocamb | September 22, 2008 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics
Tags: Bruce Cohen, gay marriage, LGBT politics, NGLTF, No On 8, same-sex marriage, Sid Sheinberg

Updated after the jump

The campaign ad was such a closely guarded secret, not even the No on Prop 8 executive committee knew when the first ad was going up on the expensive California airwaves. The idea was to get a jump on the opposition and hopefully define the issue before a swarm of negative ads from the Yes on Prop 8 campaign creates a stir.

iPhone users: Click to watch

Hastily called news conferences were held in San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Francisco to reveal the thirty-second spot. It features Samuel and Julia Thoron who have been married for 46 years.

Samuel Thoron says:

"My wife and I have treated our children differently, we never loved them any differently and the law shouldn't treat them differently either."

Julia Thoron says:

"If Prop 8 passes, our gay daughter and thousands of our fellow Californians will lose the right to marry. Please don't eliminate that right - for anyone's family."

Samuel Thoron:

"Don't eliminate marriage for anyone. Vote NO on Prop. 8."

lorri-no-ad.jpgLorri Jean, the CEO of the LA Gay & Lesbian Center, said at the news conference at The Village this morning:

"The beginning of television advertising usually signals the 'official' beginning of any campaign in California - although we've been working for months - opening headquarters, phoning voters, raising money - etc. We believe we are the first on the air in the Prop. 8 effort, but we expect the other side to be up very soon. Our first spot tells our story in a compelling way, using real people, not actors."

My first impression was that it was a very "white" ad - but Lorri Jean said that most people could empathize with a family and that was what it was about. She also said that more spots are coming.

My second impression was that the spot was targeted to those conservative areas of California such as Riverside and San Bernadino counties where a lot of independents live.

The ubiquitous Let California Ring education spot where the bride encounters numerous obstacles to getting married - which was NOT part of the No on Prop 8 campaign but undoubtedly made an impression on straight women - ended its long run on Sept. 20.

Here's what Geoff Kors of Equality California said:

"The Thorons' story not only speaks to all of us, but it also reaches out to the 20 percent of voters who still haven't made up their minds about Prop 8. ??Right now, the other side is out-raising us by a wide margin. Soon, their ads - undoubtedly filled with lies and distortions about Prop 8, about us and about our families - will be on the air. Our ads will tell the real story -- how real families will be affected if Prop 8 passes. Their ads won't. We need to keep our messages on the air as much as we can."

Here's where it is scheduled to air: Dancing with the Stars Premier, Heroes Premier, Grey's Anatomy Premier, The Presidential Debate, Survivor, Ugly Betty Premier, The Office Premier, Colbert Report and The Daily Show, The Today Show and Good Morning America, Ellen, Oprah, The Tonight Show and David Letterman, Saturday Night Live...and more, per the press release.

In an online fundraising appeal", Kors notes that a commercial that would run twice on the "Daily Show" in Los Angeles country runs $5,000 and up. To air in a small TV market in Spanish, the ad would cost $50-$124.

The Yes on 8 campaign was quick to put out a statement (I do not know if they put anything up on radio yet to counter).

Here's their online fundraising appeal:

"The Consequences of Homosexual Marriage"

In the next few weeks Californians will be inundated with media messages about the importance of allowing same-sex marriages. Voters will see TV ads telling them that homosexual love deserves "equality" with heterosexual love. Voters will hear radio reports about how all gays and lesbians want is to have the same "rights" as all married couples. And the main message that will be repeated is that allowing homosexuals to marry will have no impact on your marriage or your family-so what's the harm in giving gays their chance to marry

Although on the surface these arguments appear convincing, they don't tell the whole truth:

  • Homosexual marriage will have a direct, intrusive and damaging effect on your family.

  • Public Schools will teach that homosexuality and same-sex marriage are normal and acceptable-and if you disagree, you are a bigot. Books like "Heather has Two Mommies" or "Daddy's Wedding" will be used to teach kindergartners about homosexual relationships. When parents in Boston complained about an eighth-grade teacher instructing students about gay sex, the teacher responded, "Give me a break. It's legal now."

  • Churches will be required to perform homosexual marriage ceremonies or face prosecution under anti-discrimination laws. The California Supreme Court recently ruled that medical professionals may not defer treatment to another professional based on their religious objections. In other words, Christians and those with moral beliefs must check their conscience at the door when they arrive at work. The same case law will apply to churches. Pastors will no longer be allowed to refuse marrying homosexuals based on their religious beliefs.

  • Businesses will be prosecuted for not participating in homosexual ceremonies. A New Mexico photography company is being prosecuted for refusing to photograph the "commitment ceremony" of a homosexual couple. The full force of the government will used to make citizens publicly accept homosexuality.

  • Married couples will no longer be considered "bride and groom," but "Party A and Party B." A young couple in Placer County wrote the terms "bride" and "groom" on their marriage license, which was returned from the state as an "unacceptable alteration." A husband and wife are legally referred to now as Party A and Party B according to the California government. By redefining marriage, every marriage has already been affected.

  • The role of parents will be diminished. The family unit is already under assault with no-fault divorce, acceptance of single parenthood, and nanny government usurping the role of fathers. Homosexual marriage worsens this trend by giving government approval to single-sex parenting. Children need both a mother and a father. By approving homosexual marriage, government and society denies children their right and need for both parents.

These are just a few of the negative, damaging consequences of allowing homosexual marriage in our society. When you encounter a neighbor, church member, work associate, or family member who says, "I'm not a bigot-and homosexual marriage won't affect me," remind them of just how much it will impact their family and all families.

This is not an issue of bigotry, but of ensuring marriage isn't redefined by four activist judges. Wanting children to be raised by both of their parents isn't bigoted either. What's truly bigoted is telling Christians, Jews, Muslims and other people of faith that their beliefs must be silenced.

Rea-Sid-Gus-Dustin.jpgAt the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's Leadership Awards Lunch at the swank Beverly Hills Hotel this Sunday, Bruce Cohen, co-producer and business partner Dan Jinks, director Gus van Sant and writr Dustin Lance Black were honored for the upcoming film "Milk" about the life and assassination of LGBT martry Harvey Milk, were honored with legendary straight ally Sid Sheinberg, president and Chief Operating Officer of MCA, Inc, parent of Universal Studios for more than 20 years and now partner in The Bubble Factory and is the board vice president for Human Rights Watch.

In his moving remarks, the recently married Cohen noted that the first gay rights ordinance was passed in 1977 in Dade Country, Florida and that it was "take away" by antigay Anita Bryant and the Moral Majority. Bryant then brought her crusade against gays to California under the antigay measure known as the Briggs Initiative - Prop 6, which would have prohibited gay teachers in classrooms and punished anyone who talked about homosexuality.

Dolores-Sid.jpgProp 6 was the first battle Harvey Milk fought and defeated in 1978 - 30 years ago.

But when it came time to contribute to the Task Force's No on 8 campaign - few hands went up. Sid Sheinberg, who was the first to contribute - he gave $25,000 - called them out after promising to include LGBT people in all areas considered by Human Rights Watch.


"If it isn't worth you giving $1,000 or $2500 - why should anyone vote no."

The NGLTF event raised over $100,000 for the No on Prop 8 campaign.

On the same day that the No on Prop 8 campaign released its first ad, director Steven Spielberg and his wife Kate Capshaw have donated $100,000 to the No on Prop 8 effort. Ted Johnson has the story.

Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California and leader in the No on Prop 8 campaign, said this about the Spielberg donation:

"We so appreciate their generosity and leadership in standing for the right of all people to marry the person they love. The continued and growing opposition to Prop 8 sends a powerful message to those that seek to eliminate the right of same sex couples to marry."

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It's a great ad and I am watching it now on TV in my Palm Springs home. More power to them.

It's a great ad and I am watching it now on TV in my Palm Springs home. More power to them.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | September 22, 2008 11:40 PM

The ad seems designed to reach undecided voters--which is exactly what we need to do.

Jeeze, the noxious lies and drivel the other side is willing to put forth. "Party A and Party B"?!! That’s a reason to take away our right to marry??!!

The choices seem so obvious across the board this election: rational, responsible, socially conscious, fair and equal government? Or reckless, negligent, narrow-minded politics of fear and greed? That the polls are as close as they are, McCain vs. Obama, Yes vs. No on 8, astonishes me.

Excellent ad. It's nice to see the anti-Prop 8 money so well spent!

The Yes on Prop 8 talking points are flavored strongly by dishonest assertions, and otherwise seem to boil down to: Vote for Prop 8 because you look upon gay relationships with contempt, rationalized by religion.

They don't like being called bigots, but it doesn't mean it's not true.

Slugs might object to being called slimy, but that doesn't change the fact of their sliminess.

This vote is being closely watched half a world away in Australia where The Marriage Act of 1961 specifically states that a marriage can only be performed between a man and a woman. So far neither political party has had the will to introduce an amendment to that act in support of equality. If Prop 8 succeeds in California, it is certain that no Australian political party will introduce the amendment necessary to make marriage available to everyone in Australia equally.

I urge all Californians to turn up and vote "No", because you aren't just voting for your own rights, you will have a direct impact on the rights of thousands/millions of others worldwide.


Just to channel Michael Petrelis for a moment... Um, where's the gay people in an ad opposing a proposition to ban same-sex marriage?

From a political point of view, I know the power of PFLAG parents in reaching the independent middle. But as a gay man who's rights are being debated...

Petrelis is a strange one to complain. He is known for protesting the closing of sex clubs in San Francisco. Hope they don't get him on camera.
Photos of the late Del Martin and her partner would work.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | September 23, 2008 2:13 PM

Bil, I think the campaign has made a conscious decision that undecided voters will be more likely won over by the "safer" appeal of PFLAG.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 23, 2008 8:28 AM

It is a very solid ad. I can think of nothing better. When the approach is too hot it alienates. Bil, don't give them any ideas: "I'm not a Gay man, but I play one on TV."

Next it will be the proponents of Prop 8 shoving GLBT people in front of the camera to explain whatever reason they have to support passage. If you have seen Jerry Springer you know anything can happen. This is America.

I see where you're coming from when you say the ad is very "white." I posted that other one that they did to reach the youth vote and thought the same thing about it.

I guess we'll find out.

Roger Winters | September 23, 2008 10:08 AM

Historical note:
You're incorrect in calling the "first gay rights ordinance" Dade County's, overturned by voters in 1977. In Seattle, a prohibition against discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing was passed in 1973 and another on employment in 1975. Anita Bryant led campaigns against Dade County's ordinance (in 1977), and similar ones in Wichita (KS) and Eugene (OR), and succeeded in removing the ordinances by popular vote. A similar campaign that did not involve her was waged in Seattle in 1978. On the same day the Briggs Initiative was defeated in California, voters in Seattle registered a 63% majority against Initiative 13, which would have repealed the city's gay rights ordinances. They remain in force 30 years later. (It took 29 years in the state legislature to get sexual orientation added to the state law against discrimination.)

Such victories as Briggs and Seattle remain the rare cases where our side won when something "homo" is on the ballot. The people generally vote against us when the issue is seen as a vote on whether homosexuality is okay. The current campaign in California will win inasmuch as people see it as an issue of fairness and inequality, but not if it becomes a referendum on whether gay is good.

Curtis Morton | September 23, 2008 11:51 AM

That was a great ad. The segment from the Yes on 8 campaign got me a little heated though. I am appalled that in a country that prides itself on freedom, and a country I am proud to be a citizen of, is trying to take the rights away from a large group of its citizens.

Thanks for your comments everyone. This is an important story and all input and discussion is appreciated.

Roger - thank you in particular. Though I have been an LGBT reporter for quite a while now - I continue to be amazed at how much LGBT history I do NOT know. Thanks for the important historical correction.

Personal comment to Karen Ocamb: I've noticed your by-line for many years, in print publications around the country, and online. I've come to be very pleased to see your name above a story. It tells me that what I'm about to read is going to well-written, very informative, and free from shrillness. Your writing is about the subject, not about your personality. You place a premium on accurate conveyance of important information, and let the story tell itself. You are fabulously talented and dedicated journalist, and a class act. I thank you heartily for your contributions to our LGBT community.

Wow - thank you so much for your very generous pat on the back.

Very nice of you.

Well, you earned it!

i am voting yes on prop 8 simply because i think the United States Constitution says a little something about Separation of church and state and if this passes Churches all over CA would be required to marry but not just that why should i pay taxes so my kids can go on a field trip to see there gay teacher get married Double standard when they couldn't come to any Conventional Marriage it al sounds like a bunch of double standards we give give give and have never gotten anything back