By Lauren Smiley
The No on Prop. 8 campaign has a bevy of supporters plugging gay marriage rights in its ads. There’s Ellen DeGeneres raving that getting married was “the happiest day of my life.” Ugly Betty’s America Ferrera plugging gay marriage in Spanish. Jack O’Connell, the California’s superintendent of public schools, saying schools aren’t required to teach anything about marriage. There’s a very normal looking middle-class white couple talking about their gay son while sitting on their oh-so-normal couch. Even comedian Margaret Cho reminding her loopy neighbor in an uncharacteristic sweet manner that in order to vote “yes” for gay marriage, she needs to vote “no” on Prop. 8.
Yet, as fellow Weekly staff writer Ashley Harrell pointed out in September when the first ad surfaced, there’s one gaping hole in the No on 8 cast: gay couples themselves. That’s whose rights are at stake, right? Even Mayor Newsom thought that showing couples would strengthen the case for gay marriage back when he readied for the barrage of media for the first same sex ceremony in June: “This is about people, not press conferences," Newsom said, as quoted in Matier and Ross’ column in the Chronicle. "We want voters to see real people who have real commitments, not activists and politicians."
Well, Mayor Newsom (with his now-infamous “it’s going to happen whether you like it or not” line) turned out not to be a genius when it came to plugging gay marriage to conservatives. And National Center for Lesbian Rights Director Kate Kendell says the lack of gay couples in the TV ads is no accident. It’s called marketing, folks.
“We have a very small slice of undecided voters to convince, and we are using the very best messages and very best messengers to move those voters…Most gay people are opposed to Prop. 8 and everyone that has everyday exposure to gays are opposed to Prop 8. The folks who are undecided, we need a message delivered to them that resonates and they see themselves reflected in the message.”
Translation: Fence-sitters on whether to hate on gay marriage or not are not persuaded by gay couples. They’re persuaded by talk show hosts and comedians and Ugly Betty.
So maybe Joe Blow Voter can be convinced to vote for gay marriage. He just doesn’t want to see it.