Why Are Maine + Washington’s Gays Playing It So Nice On TV?

We won’t claim to know Maine’s voter base better than Protect Maine Equality, which is leading the No On 1 effort. But we will claim that we know a softball approach to advertising (yes, advertising) gay rights did not work in California. There, Prop 8’s supporters steamrolled over the No On 8 effort with brash, ballsy television and web spots. So Maine’s latest television ad (above) — which, let’s be sure, manages to incorporate that touchy subject of religion — isn’t one we’re thoroughly impressed with.

It’s more of the same from Maine’s gay rights camp: Softball advertising. And it leaves us worried. Recent polling data shows voters are neck-and-neck on how they’ll decide. This is troubling.

When you’re dealing with an opponent that simply invents facts in its hardball approach to fighting against gay rights, it’s time to step it up.

The same goes for Washington State’s “Approve 71” camp. This lesbian couple in Washington Families Standing Together’s new spot might be adorable, but by no means does it counter a Catholic-led scare campaign.

The gays needn’t be afraid to raise their fists in this fight. Because blood will be drawn, no matter the outcome. There’s a way to present facts accurately and showcase what’s at stake if voters choose inequality — without pretending we’re dealing with sunshine and lollipops all the time.

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  • Mike

    You’re right. You don’t know the people of Maine (or Washington) better than the people running the pro-gay campaigns in each state. The ads running in Maine are exactly what the state needs. It’s tailored to the middle and the independent voters that do not like heavy-handed political ads. Maine is not California. They don’t need to go for the throat, it will only scare people.

    So far the anti-gay ads have failed because the people of Maine saw right through them.

  • Dave from Maine

    Mike is right. Maine is a very insular state who doesn’t take very kindly to the meddling of outsiders. The other difference between California and the fight in Maine is that marriage equality was enacted through the legislature and not the courts. Each state official who voted for the legislation has an interest in making sure that the measure doesn’t get repealed.

  • Republican

    Can’t say I agree.

    The problem with the No on 8 campaign was that its ads focused on celebrities, the “confusing” nature of the question being presented, and pretty much everything else except actual gay families. They don’t seem to be making that mistake here.

  • Slider

    I have to agree with the comments made. Having real people with real stories is far more effective the Hollywood celebrities.

    The commercials are well done and speak of families and love and commitment. Maine has a large Catholic population so that ad spoke to Catholics about love and family and fairness.

    The Washington state spoke of the same thing and how can you argue with two Grandmas? I mean please..the soft approach in both ads are brilliant.

  • Cindy

    I live in California and these ads seem to me to be far from softball. When the no on 8 campaign was running ads in California, they didn’t have actual gays or lesbians in them. I’m still stunned by that. I think personalizing the vote with real people that live in Maine and Washington is a huge step forward that does play well at an emotional level. These votes are all about emotion. I think they’re striking a great tone.

  • Scott NYC

    The ADs are soft because they are “begging” for acceptance or tolerance. It is a position of weakness. There is nothing wrong with us – we’re not lepers.

    They should invite voters to put equality before religion. That’s the real battle.

  • bringbackthumbnails

    I agree with queerty 100%

    I live in California and we lost because the other side was on the attack constantly. We never went on the attack, our ads were either softball unfoucsed ads, or defensive reactions to their accusations. We lost because we let the Anti-Gay groups control the discussion.

  • Old Timer

    Maybe if Queerty had spent any energy asking volunteers to help with the WA and ME campaigns instead of promoting a useless “Equality” lawn party in Washington, D.C., I’d have any regard for your bashing of the ad campaigns.

    Queerty, between the lines of this story is your belief that gays are going to lose in WA and ME. This story is a sort of advance “I told you so.” What happens if we win? Do you then run a story saying, “Hello, we are Queerty and we were wrong?” Somehow I doubt it.

    Nothing you and your crowd does is productive.

  • bringbackthumbnails

    If it was me, I would show a victim of a shooting or car accident getting rushed into a hospital. Then show her wife and kids running in shortly after only to be told that they aren’t family and they will have to wait outside.


    Show a poor old man who gets kicked out of his house when his husband dies because the state doesn’t recognize their claim to joint property.

  • Brian

    Not all campaigns have the same audience or the same goals. WA voters tend to reject or ignore aggressive messages. Polling shows that we do not need to change people’s minds to win. Washingtonians are already with us. The problem is that of who is going to vote. Polls of likely voters are much closer. We need to make an emotional bond with our supporters to get them to vote. This is a very different situation than CA.

  • Jon

    Do some research on what’s going on in Washington State? Bother to know or understand the demographics? . .apparently the answer is NO.

    Queerty just knee-jerks without bothering to look at facts & obviously doesn’t even know that the opposition is from radical evangelicals & carpetbaggers, but chooses to go after a denomination that has been fairly silent in this dog-fight.

    Washington State isn’t Maine, and it’s not on the east coast. . .D.C. is another animal altogether.

  • Andrew

    Christians are the ones financing the fight against us – have some balls and actually say that.

  • Our Family Coalition

    The ads can be stronger and more clear. Don’t let my partner die alone without me by her side. I want strong heart wrenching statements.

  • Mark Snyder, Our Family Coalition

    While perhaps the ads could be stronger, it is so nice to see real families represented. We’re learning.

  • Alinthecounty

    The ads are doing their job here in Maine. What you’re not getting that everyone in this state gets instictively is that in every ad it talks about “people from away” trying to tell us what to do and scare us. In Maine, those words are more powerful than any attack could be.

    The message is this: we will stick with our gay Maine neighbors over anyone “from away” because you can’t trust people from away. If you don’t think this message resonates here, then you aren’t from Maine. This state is not California, and our politics are very different.

  • SFNative

    Scott, when your fundamental civil rights are put to a public vote by a potentially-tyrannical public majority, you have no other choice but to beg others to vote for you, and that is more or less why these kinds of votes are unconstitutional. If you are not the begging kind, then support the Olsen-Boies Federal Court Case to overthrow Prop 8.

  • SFNative

    Old Timer, the “useless Equality lawn party” of 200,000 common LGBT people that pressured both HRC and President Obama in their own ways was a bit more productive than some jerk whose childish, condescending, arrogant and belittling attitude serves to divide our community than unite it. If you call yourself an Old Timer, grow up, be a man and respect others.

  • SFNative

    Mark Snyder, if you ask me, a real learning point is realizing that our fundamental civil rights should *never* be put to a public vote by a potentially tyrannical public majority, and instead of spending the next 10 years wasting millions of dollars to address the symptom of defending ourselves on election day, we must focus on solving the problem, and that means we must continue to fight the precedent set by Prop 8 to end these ballot initiatives once and for all, which we are doing as Olsen and Boies are suing the validity of Prop 8 in Federal Court.

  • schlukitz

    Co-sign, SFNative.

    The best defense…

    is a good offense.

  • mikeandrewsdantescove

    Maine’s ads are better than California because gays are featured.

    Mike at 5:19 Sherri Shepherd states she is against gay marriage. I think the GLBT community should refuse to watch her new Lifetime show, Sherri.

  • Mark-n-Dallas

    I agree that these Ads are begging and pleading for acceptance. Maine’s suggestion that it is “outsiders” is folly – the Catholics (and other Christians) IN MAINE are paying for the opposition.

    I guess if you believe that gays and lesbians are “defective” or second class citizens, you should keep begging for acceptance and tolerance. Maybe try “pretty please” instead of just “please.” Add a cherry, etc.

  • Old Timer

    @SFNative, your lawn party drew 10,000 to 20,000 spectators, not 200,000.

  • schlukitz

    No. 8 Kdogg:

    Ah yes. The infamous aftermath photo of the HRC that Kdogg believes is in New Hampshire is being dragged out…again…to make his point about how self-hating, divided and hateful the LGBT community is.

    Here’s a photo of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

    Now that is aftermath

  • The Gay Numbers

    Reading these posts, you can tell what baggage posters bring to the conversation. Some of it good. Some bad.

    The question is not whether the ads work for us, but whether they fit Maine. Thus, the posters who can speak for how ads working in Maine to me are the relevant posts. They say the ads work. Therefore, assuming these posters are from Maine, I will trust them over people with an ax to grind about things like pleading and other such b.s. statements. This is not a queer theory, accept me as I am debate. It is about emotional appeal to the specific audience. That’s what ads are supposed to do.

  • The Gay Numbers


    There is one thing they could add to the ads without it losing the qualities that others say are Maine qualities. I think if the couple describes how the change of law will specifically affect their rights as a couple- ie, health care beneifts- that will really bring it home without being over the top.

  • Alan

    If all the armchair campaign managers out there would like to help No on 1 and Approve 71, those campaigns can always use volunteers. I spend the weekend calling for No on 1 and it was a great experience and you don’t have to be in Maine to do it. for more information.

  • Slider

    I believe Cindy (comment no. 6) got it dead on. The commercials show actual Gay couples and their families. I am stunned that No on Prop 8 ads did not do that. It is important to personalize the issue (do you want to really vote for discrimination when it is against your family, friends, neighbors, co workers.)

    These so “soft ads” pack strong messages and are well done. The key is also getting out the vote..all the vote….and not thinking that our rights won’t be trampled on….stand up, vote, and organize in every way possible.

  • Washingtion Guy

    You are right in the fact that you don’t know the washington voters better then the people running the Yes on R71 campaign, the voters that they need to wine over are the voters who do not like heavy handed go for the throat/scare campaigns. In fact that sort of campaign can turn many voters who would support and initiative or candidate off of them and make then change their vote, they would much rather be presented with an add that gives them facts, puts a face on the issue and gives them something to think about then one like the no on R71 is running (which I have yet to see on TV in the city I live in, pop of about 70k but very liberal) where they throw god in your face and lies/scare tactics with out giving any real information other then the bible says no. (which only really targets the small group they already have support from as it is.) what Yes on R71 needs is more adds one that also point out that the voter would be taken away rights for senior same sex couples who can also get civil-unions (they could run that part in the more ultra conservative no on R71 areas to steal back some of the vote there)

  • Washingtion Guy

    I think the WA add is good as it dose do what needs to be done to get people to the poles, if we try to do the “accident” “dieing alone thing” that opens the door for the opposition who is content basing their adds on God says so (in a state that resents having god put into law) to then point out that under existing law which will not be taken away we have hospital visitation etc, this just expands it to all the rights and responsibilities of marriage. (including adoption, inheritance, child support etc) Again most state voters are also seeing that the majority of the movers and shakers of the no on R71 campaign are from out of state washingtonians do not like outsiders meddling with the state (which is why other then Tim Imanes license tab reduction years ago he has failed miserably, he is seen as some one who moved her from CA and is trying to meddle in the states affairs) WA is not CA and the battle is different so all those from CA can keep their damn traps shut and let us people from WA do are thing and win. (washington dose not need CA and they can keep their people and opinions to themselves in CA where they belong.)

  • Chitown Kev

    Been out of commission for a sec, guys, and up here in Maine doing my part to win marriage equality for our people in this state.

    I’ve been in the bubble of working for the No ON 1 campaign a bit, so I am really not update on much of the vital news (I do know that the Buckeyes lost last night…so pleasing to THIS Michigan fan).

    I will say this…Maine is different from California. And I absolutely love it up here. Though I am getting a kick out of all the Cali peeps up here who think it’s so cold…I have no sympathy for them.

    I will check in from time to time but I am here until Election Day.

    Sorry to cut this short guys, gotta get to work.


  • Steve

    Why are the Maine and Washington campaigns playing it so nice on TV?

    Effective political advertising is not aimed at the base. It is aimed at the undecided middle. Hard-hitting, in-your-face pitches might be popular with people who are already convinced. But, they might not resonate with the people who need convincing.

    The people who manage campaigns typically test several ads.
    Then, they air the ones that are most effective.
    The process is much more involved than most people realize.

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