I was on the Dave Ross show yesterday, debating Gary Randall and talking about a new radio spot that asks voters to reject Referendum 71. The ad begins with two women chatting about how the legislature's priorities are askew—lawmakers are expanding gay rights instead of helping out folks who really need it. That's why they're voting to Reject R-71.
But stations are already yanking the ad. Smooth 98.9 FM and Warm 106.9 pulled the ad in the first two days it ran, a station spokeswoman says, in response to numerous complaints. And Sandusky Radio, the parent company, is also considering pulling the ads from KIXI. Meanwhile, KIRO program manager Rod Arquette says callers have complained, but intends to keep running the spot, because, "It's a free speech issue."
Here's what the ad says:
"Thousands of people are out of work, others are losing their homes, schools are not properly funded, but legislators spend time passing a so-called everything but marriage bill," says one of the women.
"Okay," the other woman replies, "you want state legislators to solve the real problems that affect our state, not to change the definition of marriage?"
“The bill they passed expands the rights of same-sex partners to be equal to married couples,” says the first woman. “How does that help people who are losing their home?”
Here's the full audio, which Ross played a clip from before we went to a commercial break:
And then during the commercial break—whaddaya know?—the ad played again. Because, as I reported earlier, the state affiliate of Focus on the Family donated $200,000, which is funding the commercials.
The premise here is simple: The legislature—instead of tending to priorities like keeping people in their homes—is dillydallied on frivolous measures. Lawmakers can't pursue both agendas at once, right?
The legislature passed laws doing all three of those things this year:
Keeping People in Their Homes: ESB 6033 created a program to "prevent or reduce owner-occupied foreclosure," and ESB 5810 requires notice to renters living in foreclosed properties.
Assisting the Unemployed: SB 5963 was "designed and intended to provide partial wage replacement for workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own," and HB 1906 improves "economic security through unemployment compensation."
Funding Schools: In addition to funding state schools despite a recession, the legislature passed HB 2261 to pursue the expanded funding for Basic Education, and HB 1374 improves education standards.
This ad lies on two fronts. Passing the domestic-partnership bill did nothing to hamstring the legislature from tackling mainstream priorities; the legislature addressed the "real problems." And the domestic-partnership bill is explicitly not about marriage, which comes with over 1,000 federal rights not included under the state law (nor do gay partners get to use the word "marriage"). Moreover, we can't send the legislature back in a time machine to use that time differently, so if a prioritiy are askew, it's running an expensive referendum campaign that undermines gay and lesbian families—which rely on domestic partnership bill for sick leave, pension rights, insurance coverage—in a bad economy.
But this ad is just one lie in a long string of bogus messages. A television ad by Protect Marriage Washington running right now says that Rejecting R-71 is "God's Mandate," but God has lots of mandates that religious folks ignore (god also mandates that y'all don't eat shrimp but you don't see Christians running initiatives to ban dim sum). The petitions for R-71 claimed that domestic partnerships require teaching about gay marriage in schools (even though the law says nothing about curriculum). And they also talk about protecting families (even though Gary Randall admitted on the radio that "It wouldn't affect my marriage").
These real reason this ads exist is to create excuses... writing scripts for bigots to hide behind. Homophobes have a plausible reason to reject R-71—for the sake of religion, marriages, protecting families, children, and now for the principle of well-placed priorities!—without having to say they're homophobes.