Watch the current Yes on 1 ads in Maine and you’ll see some familiar faces. Yes, right there on your TV screen you’ll see Robb and Robin Wirthlin bemoaning the fact that their child’s teacher read the book King & King to the class. Why do they look familiar? It’s exactly the same footage used in the Yes on 8 campaign spots from California last year.
But this isn’t the first, or the second time the opposition has used essentially this same ad. Back in 1998, the first time marriage equality was put to a vote in the US, the opposition ran essentially the same commercial in Hawaii.
“In each, according to our opposition, a young child is hurt or damaged when exposed to a book that depicts a gay couple as happy and healthy. This message – ‘your kids are in danger’ — is a lie designed to frighten and polarize voters, including but not limited to young parents of young children. This misinformation is what our opposition relied on as far back as Anita Bryant’s 1977 ‘Save the Children’ campaign, and they’re using it again in Maine this year,” according to David Fleischer, media analyst and Lead Organizer of the LGBT Mentoring Project in New York.
In Maine, you’ll also see a school teacher promising that homosexuality will be taught in public school and a law professor promising “a flood of lawsuits.” Meanwhile there is a casting call for a ‘Yes on 1’ commercial looking for a “working waitress type” and a “teacher type,” according to a recent article in the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. Sound familiar?
What may not sound familiar is the reaction these tactics are garnering in Maine. In his October 2nd Real Mainers step up for ‘No on 1’ ads, Bill Nemitz calls out the opposition for its subterfuge. He begins with pointing out that the handsome traditional family featured on the Stand for Marriage Maine website is actually clip art and calmly and systematically picks apart the spokespeople for the Yes on 1 campaign as not what they purport to be.
There’s the law professor who opines that “Maine’s same sex marriage law would produce a ‘flood of lawsuits’ and lead to mandatory teaching of homosexual marriage in Maine schools.” Turns out he’s not licensed to practice law in Maine and has never lived there.
There is the Maine school teacher who not only does not teach in the public schools, but is the “President of the Maine chapter of Concerned Women for America – a faith-based organization whose mission is ‘to protect and promote Biblical values among all citizens – first through prayer, then education, and finally by influencing our society – thereby reversing the decline in moral values in our nation.’”
And then there are the Wirthlins, not from Maine and appearing in a ‘recycled’ commercial.
In contrast, Nemitz offers, “the anti-repeal ‘No on 1’ campaign overflows with real Mainers who are willing – no make that eager – to go public in their support of equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.” He then equally systematically provides the bona fides for the REAL Mainers who appear in the No on 1 commercials. And, since he knows several of them personally, those are bona fides that the reader can trust.
Ask the people of Massachusetts, with the lowest divorce rate in the nation, and they’ll tell you same sex marriage hasn’t harmed ‘traditional marriage’ or turned their kids gay. “We have it. It’s been happening. The sky’s not falling,” according to Dr. Russell Mayer, the Director of the Center for Public Opinion Research at Merrimack College. Or ask the people of Iowa, where a recent poll conducted by the Des Moines Register finds that 92% of Iowans believe that “gay marriage has brought no real change to their lives.”
Soon, the people of Maine will weigh in on the question of marriage equality. I’m putting my faith in the real Mainers who have spoken out for their friends, family, and neighbors. Thank you Maine, for showing the rest of us how to expose the distortions and fear tactics of those opposed to equal rights for the LGBT community. I love Maine!
Jane Wishon, is a straight, married, Christian, mother-of-three who has been married 33 years. She actively campaigned for No on 8, and is no a member of the Interim Admin Group of Restore Equality 2010, the movement to repeal what she calls a “blight” on her state of California. Jane has started a cause for straight allies that can be found on Facebook: straight Ally Women 4 Equality – AWE. Jane also volunteers for AIDS Project LA, and twitters @janewishon.