Gay Marriage Ads Missing Actual Gay People

Ads supporting gay marriage legislation in the four key states of Maine, Maryland, Washington and Minnesota are noticeably absent of any actual gay people.

The Christian Science Monitor reports:

In one TV ad, a husband and wife talk fondly of a lesbian couple who moved into their neighborhood. In another, a married couple speaks of wanting fair treatment for their lesbian daughter. A third features a pastor talking supportively about gay unions.

And let’s not forget about the ones with the adorable grandparents who secretly had a gay grandson. Okay, so maybe they have a point, that gay people are being pushed into the background to sell this to a straight audience. One ad out of Maine, however, did feature a brotherhood of firefighters, one of whom was gay.

“The moderate tough guys we need to flip to win a couple of these races are still the ones who say that gays are gross,” Andy Szekeres, a Denver-based fundraising consultant, who for the record is gay, and has worked on several state campaigns, explained to CSM. “Pushing people to an uncomfortable place, it’s something you can’t do in a TV ad.”

Matt McTighe, campaign manager of Mainers United for Marriage, agreed: “The simple truth is that we are trying to win over the people that are not yet with us. I’m a gay man, and the general rule of thumb for me is that an ad that meets my emotional needs is not necessarily the thing that’s going to change a typical voter’s mind about gay or lesbian people.”

As did Richard Carlbom, manager of Minnesota United, who claims that many straight people “are on a journey on this issue, and the most effective way to encourage them is to show them other people who have taken the same journey,” and come to accept gay marriage.

While that’s all well and good, no one likes being talked about like they’re not in the room. And it’s not as if all these heterosexual voters have never met a gay person in their life. It’s 2012, we’re kind of everywhere, as Minneapolis gay Alexander Zachary argued, “This isn’t San Francisco in 1973, where all the gay people live in one neighborhood and all the straight people live everywhere else. We’re not this hidden culture anymore, so why act like it?”

After 32 failed campaigns D.C.-based gay activist Bil Browning thinks it might be time to re-evaluate this ad strategy, saying, “We’re never going to win if we can’t show our faces. It looks like we have something to hide, and we don’t.”