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Thursday, October 11, 2012

The First Reject R-74 Ad

Posted by on Thu, Oct 11, 2012 at 12:50 PM

They began airing this morning:

The genius here—which has been the trademark of Frank Schubert, behind this campaign and others to defeat gay marriage—is making the case that voters can oppose gay marriage without being a bigot. "Referendum 74 is not about equality," it begins. "You can oppose same-sex marriage and not be anti-gay." Gay couples in Washington already have the rights of marriage thanks to domestic-partnership laws, the ad says, while segueing to the lynchpin of their argument: In other states that have legalized same-sex marriage, people who disagreed have faced "lawsuits, fines, and punishment." In a nutshell, the argument goes, gay people won't face discrimination if we reject R-74; straight people will face discrimination if we approve it.*

In making this case succinctly, the ad also gives anti-gay voters a script to defend themselves in awkward conversations, which puts the onus on gay-rights voters in those conversations to unpack—and get sidetracked by—the debunked claim that people will face fines and lawsuits.

It also shoehorns in the arguments that marriage is about procreation and approving R-74 would "redefine" the institution, contributing to a jumble of soundbites. But these are their best messages in one tidy package. And like California and Maine, where Schubert nixed marriage in 2008 and 2009, the opening salvos were also a kitchen-sink of opposition messaging.

You'll notice that this ad is toned down from the "marry a princess" commercial Schubert deployed in California, but the gentle tone is smart, too. This piece was tailored to Washington's electorate and media, which tend to be more wary of abrasive attacks. But I expect Schubert may roll out separate pieces in the next few weeks, breaking out these arguments with a slightly sharper edge.

* The argument that voters will be "punished" for tolerance is horseshit: Lawsuits in other states have arisen from discrimination of gay people, which is illegal for the same reason you can't deny service to black people at the lunch counter. One famous example they're referring to here concerns a Massachusetts lawsuit, in which a couple lost their case attempting to black out any school curriculum that acknowledged existence of gay relationships. But courts found that parents don't get to decide what's acceptable to teach, and those other state's laws—just like R-74—don't require teaching anything. Here's a piece that debunks the argument. If anything, R-74 takes pains to restate constitutional protections that clergy and churches may deny weddings to gay people, the same way they can deny them to people of different faiths.)


Comments (14) RSS

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icouldliveinhope 1
This is dumb and kind of contradicts itself: gays already have the same legal rights, like child custody! But this is about children!
Posted by icouldliveinhope on October 11, 2012 at 1:19 PM · Report this
Baconcat 2
When the Truth Needle rates this false there better be an answer ad that basically comes out and points out that their first ad was all lies. Throw in a judge or, better yet, someone like Reagan Dunn or another top name republican.
Posted by Baconcat on October 11, 2012 at 1:21 PM · Report this
Pick1 3
I love how the comments on nearly every anti-gay youtube ad is blocked.

Not saying that Youtube comments have ever been necessarily enlightening, but their fear of what people might say (even knowing no one really cares what those commenters say) is telling.
Posted by Pick1 on October 11, 2012 at 1:23 PM · Report this
Washington United's response:…
Posted by ddmama on October 11, 2012 at 1:27 PM · Report this
I can't help but start to do my own riff on the end of this commercial:

Just because you are for segregation it doesn't make you a racist.

Just because you are for gassing the jews it doesn't make you a nazi.

Just because you want to stick a "wand" in a sexually active woman it doesn't make you a republican.


Posted by doubtroub on October 11, 2012 at 1:43 PM · Report this
rob! 6
Interesting question about political ads: When it's not on-screen actors giving laughably unbelievable readings of their lines, it's voice-over narration that sounds uniformly cunty/dickish. No matter what viewpoint they're pitching. Has it really been firmly established that ads can't work unless they sound like your rejected ex-lover or your sarcastic boss? Is it supposed to be the cartoon devil/angel on your shoulder speaking to your 8-year-old ego?
Posted by rob! on October 11, 2012 at 1:51 PM · Report this
Keister Button 7
I was surprised to see a Reject R74 sign in Seattle today, on a greenbelt south of Ingraham High School. I was not surprised to see that nobody as of yet in Seattle has a Reject R74 sign on their personal property.
Posted by Keister Button on October 11, 2012 at 2:18 PM · Report this
Mark in Colorado 8
And it begins. Washington United's response on their Web site is useless. They'd better respond forcefully with their own t.v. ad if they really want to win this fight.
Posted by Mark in Colorado on October 11, 2012 at 2:49 PM · Report this
All this commercial says to me is that marriage should be restricted to couples (straight or gay) who have children.
Posted by ignatz ratzkywatzky on October 11, 2012 at 3:37 PM · Report this
"This is dumb and kind of contradicts itself: gays already have the same legal rights, like child custody!"

That's because it isn't about logic.
It's about providing people with a talking point that they can repeat.
Something that they can use to STOP thinking about this issue.
They don't want to look at WHY they oppose marriage equality.
Posted by fairly.unbalanced on October 11, 2012 at 3:55 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 11
#8 Mark, I hear your point. But instead of being reactive WaUnited should be Proactive and hit back with a Child talking about how it's so unfair her parents can't get married like all the other kids' parents can. And how when they go to church everyone loves them and wants them to get married and how she want all kids parents to be able to get married too. But alas it won't happen as it's too manipulative and tugs at peoples' heart strings. Really WaUnited, what have you got to lose by manipulating the heart strings? All you have to gain is marriage equality.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on October 11, 2012 at 4:03 PM · Report this
Mark in Colorado 12
Great idea.

However, I'm starting to get the impression that Washington United is going the way of the morons in California. Prop 8 all over again. Ugh.
Posted by Mark in Colorado on October 11, 2012 at 4:48 PM · Report this
linchpin, not lynchpin
Posted by N in Seattle on October 11, 2012 at 9:00 PM · Report this
Baconcat 14
Here's how some of your favorite posters and slog writers reacted to R-71 polling poorly about this time 3 years ago:…
Posted by Baconcat on October 11, 2012 at 9:15 PM · Report this

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