activists

Basic Rights Oregon’s Expensive + Useless Marriage TV Campaign Shows Equality Groups Have Learned Nothing

So, this is part of a new statewide television advertising campaign from Marriage Matters Oregon, which is funded by Basic Rights Oregon. Apparently the spot, now in the second week of a three-week run, is “aimed at warming Oregon hearts and minds to same-sex marriage,” which is what it’s TV campaign last summer was all about. The current campaign, which includes 200,000 mailers sent to Oregon homes, has a tab of several hundred thousand dollars, though Basic Rights Oregon won’t specify how much money it is spending wasting. Yes, wasting — because these feel good campaigns aimed at “convincing” people to like gay couples doesn’t work. We’ve proven that already. We’ve also seen other state equality groups engage in this type of “love thy neighbor” advertising, and they are equally terrible. But the real measure of whether Basic Rights Oregon is doing a decent job with donor dollars is to check in with what the competition thinks of it.

The Oregonian checks in with BRO’s lead opponents on gay marriage.

The Oregon Family Council, a statewide Christian-based network that opposes same-sex marriage, doesn’t want to fight another initiative battle over marriage, said spokesman Tim Nashif. “But make no bones about it, we will,” said Nashif, who led the council’s fight to pass Measure 36, Oregon’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, in 2004. Basic Rights is “going at it the right way” by preparing residents to vote on overturning the ban, Nashif said. If the group launches an initiative drive, he said, “we would be most grieved by the fact all of this money and all of these hard feelings and the rhetoric and all of the stuff we went through in 2004 is all going to be put back on the table.”

Here’s a clue: When the very people who don’t want you to have marriage rights think you’re “going at it the right way” with your television campaign, you’ve got a serious problem. Translated, Nashif is saying BRO is a bumbling mess headed in the wrong direction.

In Oregon, marriage is banned at the constitutional level, though a 2012 ballot initiative could change things — not that BRO executive director Jeana Frazzini has any “specific plans” to do that.

And so here we are again: Wishing the best for state equality groups, and fully supporting their efforts to get gays marriage rights, but branding their miserable (and very expensive) ad campaign efforts as complete FAILs. The straight and gay couples in this spot seem wonderful. They are not, however, going to convince marriage opponents to change their minds, nor will they convince gay marriage supporters they absolutely have to run to the ballot box to make sure an initiative passes.