By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com October 31 2012 1:56 PM ET
A false, misleading TV ad claiming that marriage equality will lead to children being taught about same-sex sexuality in schools is currently on the air in all four states considering marriage-related legislation this election, ThinkProgess LGBT reports.
The ad, currently airing in Minnesota, Maine, Washington, and Maryland, features David and Tonia Parker, a Massachusetts couple who claim their parental rights were violated when their young son was told in school that same-sex marriage existed after Massachusetts became the first state to legalize marriage equality in 2003.
"If gay marriage happens here," an announcer states in the ad, "schools could teach that boys could marry boys."
"After Massachusetts redefined marriage, local schools taught it to children in second grade, including the school our son attended" charges David Parker in the ad. "Courts ruled that parents had no right to take their children out of class, or to even be informed when this instruction was going to take place."
Indeed, Parker filed a federal lawsuit against his Massachusetts school district, alleging that his parental rights were violated when his son's school sent home a "Diversity Bookbag" that included an optional, non-required book called Who's In A Family. Notably, this book is not the same as that which appears in the ads — that book is called King and King, and was originally written in Dutch by Linda De Haan and Stren Nijland.
Parker pursued his case all the way to the Massachusetts Supreme Court, which declined to hear the argument. Lower courts concluded that Parker's argument was baseless, since there is no law mandating that parents be given the option to opt their children out of readings which pertain to sexuality.
Not that the book Parker objected to actually discussed sexuality of any kind. In fact, the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals concluded, "[We] cannot see how [Parker's son] Jacob's free exercise right was burdened at all: two books were made available to him, but he was never required to read them or have them read to him. Further, these books do not endorse gay marriage or homosexuality, or even address these topics explicitly, but merely describe how other children might come from families that look different from one's own," according to the Daily Kos.
The misleading ad has been soundly decried as "false," "misleading," and "outdated" by pro-equality groups in all four states considering marriage legislation on the ballot in November. Maine, Maryland and Washington voters will consider enacting marriage equality legislation, and Minnesota voters are being asked to amend the state's constitution to define marriage solely as the union of one man and one woman.
According to the Daily Kos, all four ads are produced by notorious antigay pundit Frank Schubert. The argument, initially made by the National Organization for Marriage, that elementary schools will be forced to teach children about same-sex marriage was debunked as "False" by Politifact back in 2011.
Watch the video below, compiled by The Leadership Lab, to see just how similar each of these ads are, and how closely they resemble the debunked, outdated arguments of antiequality campaigns of years past.