WATCH: Marriage Equality Advocates Launch TV Ads in Maryland

By Julie Bolcer

Originally published on Advocate.com October 10 2012 11:49 AM ET

Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the coalition working to uphold the new marriage equality in a referendum next month, released its first TV ads Wednesday with an emphasis on the measure’s protections for civil rights and religious freedoms.

Two separate, 30-second ads airing in the Baltimore market feature Rev. Donte Hickman of Baltimore’s Southern Baptist Church and Rev. Delman Coates of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Prince George's County. The pastors express their belief that the “government should treat everyone equally” while not forcing “any church to perform a same sex marriage if it's against their beliefs.” NAACP chairman emeritus Julian Bond expresses a similar message in a radio ad that began airing yesterday.

The Maryland effort marks the first time African-American voters have been the focus of a marriage equality campaign. Black voters represent a key constituency in the solidly Democratic state and are expected to turn out in high numbers to vote for President Barack Obama. As a result, both advocates and opponents of the referendum known as Question 6 are working intensely for African-American support through outreach to religious and community leaders.

Recent polling indicates that more than half of likely African-Americans voters favor the marriage equality law, but the outlook could change as the campaign enters its final few weeks and TV ads flood the airwaves. Marriage equality opponents launched their first TV ad Monday, with an emphasis on the “thousands of years” of marriage between men and women only, and claims about the advantages of children growing up with married mothers and fathers.

Read the transcripts and watch the latest ads below.

Rev. Donte Hickman ad:

As a Pastor, my support for Question Six is rooted in my belief that the government should treat everyone equally. I wouldn't want someone denying my rights based upon their religious views, so I shouldn't deny others based upon mine. It's about fairness. I support this law because does not force any church to perform a same sex marriage if it's against their beliefs. And that's what this is about. Protecting religious freedom and all Marylanders equally under the law. Join me in voting for Question 6.

Rev. Delman Coates ad:

As a Pastor, my support for Question Six is rooted in my belief that the government should treat everyone equally. I would not want someone denying my rights based upon their religious views, therefore I should not deny others based upon mine. It's about fairness. This law does not force any church to perform a same sex marriage if it's against their beliefs. And that's what this is about. Protecting religious freedom and protecting all Marylanders equally under the law. Join me in voting for Question 6.