Videos ads in support of, and
opposition to, SSM in Maine
At last count, adults in Maine were in a statistical dead heat over whether
to allow same-sex couple to marry.
The eventual outcome of the plebiscite may well depend upon the money that each
and how effective their ads are.
Unfortunately, for the pro-marriage equality side, negative, fear-based ads
tend to be much more effective than appeals to equality for persons of all
Three early ads favoring marriage equality:
"Stand for marriage's"
initial ads opposing marriage equality:
The people appearing in the pro-equality ads shown above were all volunteers. However,
the opposing side apparently has had to hire actors for some of their TV ads. This is
not a good sign for their side.
to AmericaBlog, casting director James Stiles sought two "real Maine"
women to appear in a television ad produced by groups opposed to marriage
equality. He was looking for a "teacher type" and a "working waitress type,"
both in the 35-45 age range. Auditions were held on 2009-SEP-02. The job pays
$500 a day for a three day gig. 1
In early 2009-SEP, we speculated that when the Maine television
ads appear, they would be similar to the one
promoted by National Organization
for Marriage(NOM)in 2009-APR. That is, they would take
the form of a very
professionally produced fear-based video describing a
frightening agenda being promoted by a nameless, faceless army of homosexuals.
The ad will not emphasize same sex marriage. Rather, it will give major emphasis
to a perceived attack on religious freedom by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transsexual (LGBT) community.
Three such rights were mentioned in that TV ad:
The right of a
physician to discriminate against GLBT persons in the provision of
health services that she or he supplies to the general population.
The right of
church groups to discriminate against GLBTs in the provision of
services that they promised to provide to the general population, and for
which they received tax exemptions.
The right of
parents to require their local public school board to restore past
policies of teaching discrimination against the GLBT community.
On the other hand, we held out the possibility that they may take an entirely different approach this time.
Maine is one of the most secular states in the U.S. The 2009-APR fear-based approach might
be less effective in this state.
It turns out that we were at least partly correct. When the first anti-SSM appeared, it was,
fear-based. Also, it mainly discussed perceived religious freedom consequences to the bill.
The ad titled "Consequences," features Scott FitzGibbon, a law professor from
Boston College Law School in Newton, MA. The sponsors apparently could not
obtain the services of a Maine law professor. FitzGibbon predicts three dangers.
The first two are:
"...real consequences for Mainers. Legal experts predict a flood of
lawsuits against individuals, small businesses and religious groups.
Church organizations could lose their tax exemption because of their conscientious objection to same-sex marriage.
We sent the following Email request to Stand For Marriage Maine:
"Your ad would have been far more effective if Professor FitzGibbon had
cited actual cases in jurisdictions that have legalized same-sex marriage, and
where where individuals, small businesses or religious groups were
subsequently sued by same-sex married couples."
"We have searched for such lawsuits but have not been able to find any."
"In Canada, where same-sex couples have been marrying since mid-2005, we could
not find a lawsuit either. We did find one case in there where a woman had
signed a contract with the local Knights of Columbus to rent their hall for
her wedding reception. The Knights unilaterally terminated the contract when
they found out that her spouse was another woman. She laid a successful human
rights complaint. But that is as close to a lawsuit as we have been able to
find in the 6 U.S. states, 7 Canadian provinces, and 3 Canadian territories
that have legalized same-sex marriage in North America."
As expected, we did not receive an answer to our Email or even an
acknowledgment that it was received.
The third fear expressed by Professor FitzGibbon was:
"Homosexual marriage [would be] taught in public schools whether the
parents like it or not."
The term "homosexual marriage" is not a good one. It is true that most
same-sex marriages (SSMs) involve two gays or two lesbians. However, some
involve a person with a homosexual orientation married to a bisexual. A few
involve two bisexuals. So, "same-sex marriage" is a much preferred term.
FitzGibbon's comments feed into a fear-filled misunderstanding by many
adults. Some believe that if we completely isolate children from any information
about homosexual orientation, then 6% of children will not choose to have a
homosexual orientation after puberty, as they believe now happens.
This can be proven to be a false view of sexual orientation. Consider:
Child psychologists are able to interview pre-school aged children and
determine with 85% accuracy which ones will grow up to be lesbian and gay.
Children are far more knowledgeable about sexual orientation today than
were the previous generation. Yet although gays, lesbians and bisexuals are
far more visible today, they do not appear to be more numerous.
We have never been able to find an adult -- with a heterosexual, bisexual
or homosexual orientation -- who can recall ever choosing their sexual
orientation. Rather, it appears to be something that a person discovers.
Many lesbians, gays and bisexuals can recall feeling different from other
children from a very early age, before they knew anything about human
sexuality or sexual orientation.
If SSM becomes available to Maine lesbian, gays, and bisexuals, it would
appear that SSM is an important topic to discuss SSM in school. Even if SSM does
not become legal in the state, it will be available in many other U.S. states
and across Canada. Armed with knowledge about SSM, that 6% of students who will
become lesbian, gay or bisexual as adults will realize that they can choose from
various lifestyles later in life:
To develop a celibate, loving, committed relationship, and then marry.
To develop a sexually active, loving, committed relationship and then
To remain single and sexually active with a variety of others over their
To lead a celibate existence.
These, of course, are exactly the same lifestyles from which heterosexuals
can now freely choose.
In summary, it would be important that all students learn about same-sex
marriage whether it becomes available in Maine so that the 6% would reach their
full potential, and that all of the students will understand what marriage
It would probably take only a minor addition to the course curriculum
whenever marriage is taught.