WATCH: Anti-equality Ads In Maine Rely On False Victimization Claims
A series of ads now airing on Maine televisions are based on misleading, false claims of victimization by those who oppose marriage equality, ThinkProgress reports.
The first 30-second spot features Jim and Mary O'Reilly, who claim they were forced to pay $30,000 and stop hosting weddings at their Vermont inn after a lesbian couple sued them for not accommodating their same-sex wedding reception.
In reality, the O'Reillys were not in violation of Vermont's 2009 marriage equality law, but rather violated the state's non-discrimination statute, which prevents discrimination in public accommodation on the basis of sexual orientation. Vermont was the among the first states to pass such comprehensive anti-discrimination policies in 1992, according to Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders. Further, ThinkProgress points out that the O'Reillys settled their case out of court, and then voluntarily concluded that the only way they could operate in accordance with the state's antidiscrimination policy was to cease holding weddings at their property altogether.
The second ad features former Canadian sportscaster Damian Goddard, who claims he was fired after sending a tweet saying he supported "traditional marriage."
Goddard conveniently forgets to mention, however, that his final tweet was one in a series of antigay messages, or that the Twitter rant was only the final straw in a series of disciplinary issues the on-air anchor had with employer Sportsnet. Following Sportsnet's dismissal, the company's communications director issued a statement saying that "in recent weeks it had become clear that [Goddard] is not the right fit for our organization," according to the Toronto Star. Since leaving Sportsnet, Goddard has become a spokesman for the National Organization for Marriage's "Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance," reports ThinkProgress' Zack Ford.
Setting aside the fact that none of these ads feature actual Maine residents, they are a crystallization of the misleading, fear-mongering tactics that have allowed NOM and other equality opponents to successfully defeat LGBT relationship recognition each of the 32 times the issue has been put before voters.
This November, equality advocates are hoping to make history in Maine, Washington, and Maryland with an affirmative vote from constituents to uphold marriage equality in each state. Minnesota voters will consider adding a constitutional ban on marriage equality to the existing state-level ban, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.