Originally published on 10/16/12 on the ACLU Blog of Rights
Two weeks ago we brought you news about the four states that have marriage-related ballot initiatives this fall. As the election quickly approaches, each of the campaigns in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington have begun running television ads that highlight the stories of individuals, religious leaders, and community leaders who support the freedom to marry. These ads show the underlying issue at stake this fall – that marriage, both for straight and gay couples, is about building a life with someone and making a commitment to take care of and love one another.
Here is a look at some of the stories being told:
Maine – Lifelong Republican Supports Freedom to Marry
Republican Representative Stacey Fitts of Pittsfield, Maine voted against same-sex marriage while serving in the legislature in 2009, but has since changed his mind. Now in 2012, he's standing up and speaking out about his support for the freedom to marry as a Republican.
Stacey says, “Deciding who you marry is the most important decision you will ever make. I don’t believe the government should tell anybody who they can love, or who they can marry. Voting ‘Yes’ protects religious freedom, and it protects individual freedom. To me that’s what our country is all about. We should allow gay people the freedom to marry, and we should protect individual liberty too. Voting ‘Yes’ on Question 1 will do both.”
The ACLU of Maine and Mainers United for Marriage couldn't do the important work of bringing Republicans – and people of all parties – together to support marriage for same-sex couples without the leadership of Representative Fitts. His choice to share his personal journey will help others think about why they should support marriage for loving and committed same-sex couples across our state, regardless of their political affiliation.
Maryland – A Matter of Civil Rights and Fairness
The ACLU of Maryland is a board member of the Marylanders for Marriage Equality, which on Monday released its latest ad in support of Question 6, the Civil Marriage Protection Act. The ad features NAACP Chairman Emeritus Julian Bond and is airing in the Washington, D.C. market.
Bond affirms that Question 6 protects civil rights for all, saying, “My name is Julian Bond. I know a little something about fighting for what’s right and just. Maryland’s gay and lesbian families share the same values, and they should share in the right to marry. I believe people of faith understand this isn’t about any one religious belief; it’s about protecting the civil right to make a lifelong commitment to the person you love. Join me in supporting Question 6. It’s the right thing to do.”
The campaign also has two ads airing in the Baltimore market that feature Rev. Donte Hickman of Baltimore’s Southern Baptist Church and Rev. Delman Coates of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Prince George's County. Both affirm that Question 6 protects religious freedom while treating people fairly under the law.
Minnesota – Love is Bigger Than Government
With three weeks until the election, Minnesotans United for all Families, of which the ACLU of Minnesota is a member, has been kicking their campaign – to defeat the hurtful and freedom-limiting constitutional amendment to ban marriage for same-sex couples – into high gear by sharing the stories of real Minnesotans talking about why they are voting “No” and standing up for the freedom to marry.
The latest TV ad to be released, Land of the Free, highlights the amendment as too much government intrusion, that limits a basic freedom.
“Government isn’t telling people who they can fall in love with, so government should not be telling people who they can marry. We’re supposed to be the home of the brave, land of the free. If two people – gay, straight – commit to each other and want to take responsibility for each other through marriage, there is no reason for the government to get in the way of that. The constitution is supposed to protect our freedom, not take it away. I’m voting ‘No.’ Love is bigger than government.”
Another ad features Kim and John, a Catholic Republican couple who discuss their journey to arrive at voting No. A third ad features, John from Richfield, Minnesota discussing the importance of marriage in his own life, and how he doesn't want to deny that happiness to anyone – gay or straight.
Check out a whole host of videos of people talking about why they are voting no here.
Washington – It’s A Question of Fundamental Fairness
In February of 2012 Washington state Governor Chris Gregoire signed SB 6239, an historic bill granting civil marriage to gay and lesbian couples in the state. Opponents of marriage equality collected enough signatures to challenge the bill at the ballot this November. Washington voters must approve Referendum 74 to secure the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples.
Washington United for Marriage, a coalition of more than 600 organizations, including the ACLU of Washington, has launched several beautiful ads showing a broad base of support for marriage equality. Among them is a recent statewide ad by Republican WA State Representative Maureen Walsh (R – District 16). Her ad speaks about the freedom to marry as “a question of fundamental fairness.” It is reminiscent of her moving testimony on the house floor, back in February, which became a national sensation when the video went viral on YouTube.
“I was married for 23 years to the love of my life, and he died six years ago, and I miss him every day. I think to myself, ‘How could I deny any couple, whether they’re gay or straight, that incredible bond of marriage?’” Walsh says. “We’re all God’s children – who am I to pass judgment on others? As a Republican, I don’t believe the government should tell anyone who they can or cannot marry.”
View additional ads and videos from Washington United for Marriage here.