The Human Rights Campaign, a Washington, D.C.-based gay rights group, launched a $1 million national ad campaign Monday supporting same-sex marriage. The ads, which will appear in major national newspapers, come as gay marriage is shaping up to be a hot-button issue in the 2004 presidential campaign, with conservative lawmakers lobbying for a constitutional amendment to ban it as well as prohibit recognition of all civil unions and domestic partnerships. "We want to educate people about what marriage is," HRC spokesman Mark Shields told The Washington Post.
One ad features Maryland couple Jo and Teresa and their three young children. It reads: "Why are 'pro-family' groups attacking this family? Between skinned knees and soccer practice...they face all the same joys and frustrations as other parents--but without the same protections." Other versions showcase two elderly women, two black women, two churchgoing men, and Keith Bradkowksi holding a photo of his partner, who died September 11, 2001, at the World Trade Center. "The terrorists killed people not because they were gay or straight but because they were Americans," the headline reads.
The Family Research Council, one of the antigay "pro-family" groups referenced in the ads, immediately responded to the announcement. "It will take much more than $1 million to convince the American public that deconstructing marriage is a good idea," said FRC president Tony Perkins. "What these ads ignore is that protecting the definition of marriage is about more than tax breaks and Social Security benefits. It's about the real benefits that society reaps from strong marriages, benefits that are not produced from homosexual 'unions.' Homosexual activists are cloaking their agenda with nonthreatening ads that focus on financial benefits and hospital visitation rights--privileges they are already afforded via a will, power of attorney, or contract. In reality, they want 'marriage' so they can gain social approval of their chosen lifestyle and of their far-reaching political agenda."