TV Ad Battle Begins on Maryland Marriage Referendum

By Julie Bolcer

Originally published on Advocate.com October 08 2012 3:37 PM ET

The referendum campaign on the new marriage equality law in Maryland entered an intensified new phase Monday as opponents of the legislation began airing TV ads that urge voters to block it from taking effect, while advocates prepared to counter with their own ads this Wednesday. Approval of the ballot measure, known as Question 6, would uphold the law and make Maryland among the first states in the nation to pass marriage equality at the ballot box.

The 30-second spot from the Maryland Marriage Alliance, titled “Marriage Is More,” uses a familiar script applied in other states that says marriage has been the “union of a man and a woman” for “thousands of years.” The ad also makes the false claim, unsupported by scientific studies, that “children do best when raised by their married mom and dad.”

“Everyone is entitled to love and respect, but no one is entitled to redefine marriage,” says the ad, as reported by The Washington Post. Male and female couples of diverse racial backgrounds appear in the spot.

The Maryland Marriage Alliance is supported by the National Organization for Marriage, which has backed the campaigns against marriage equality in many other states.

Advocates of the new law, who have joined in the coalition Marylanders for Marriage Equality, plan to run TV ads beginning Wednesday. The coalition has purchased more than $550,000 in airtime on Baltimore and D.C. television stations through Election Day, according to the Washington Blade. Although neither side has revealed its fund-raising to date, marriage equality advocates have previously said they would need between $5 and $7 million dollars to win.

The highly anticipated television ads hold the potential to alter the dynamics of the campaign, where a Baltimore Sun poll last week found that 21% of voters in Baltimore, the state’s largest city, did not yet have an opinion on the measure. Overall, the poll found that 49% of voters approved of the measure while 39% opposed it, with more than half of African-Americans, who make up about 25% of Maryland voters, in favor. Voters on both sides of the issue held strong opinions, according to the poll.