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Debunked: Anti-Gay Ad in Washington


By Matt Baume

A new anti-gay ad just launched in Washington, and it’s a carbon-copy of the same misleading, hurtful messages that they’ve run year after year in other states. But the Prop 8 trial changed things. That trial was like a freedom-to-marry truth commission, where we put all of their misleading claims on the stand and examined them piece by piece. And of course, AFER’s expert legal team demolished all of those arguments.

Let’s take a look at the new Washington ad and break it down.

“Referendum 74 is not about equality. Gays and lesbians already have the same legal rights as married couples.”

No. Domestic partnerships are fundamentally different from marriage. They’re better than no protection at all, but they are also separate and unequal. That’s not an opinion — that’s according to studies from multiple states, as well as the District Court’s findings in the Prop 8 case: “The evidence at trial shows that domestic partnerships exist solely to differentiate same-sex unions from marriages. A domestic partnership is not a marriage.”

Then there’s The New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission, which wrote, “separate categorization established by the Civil Union Act invites and encourages unequal treatment of same-sex couples and their children.” The commission’s report includes a story about a woman who couldn’t get access to her partner in a hospital because the staff didn’t know what a civil union was. And they heard from mental health professionals about the “psychological harm that same-sex couples and their children endure because they are branded with an inferior label.”

And the Vermont Commission of Family Recognition and Protection found “clear, significant differences between the benefits, privileges, and responsibilities attached to a civil union versus a heterosexual marriage.” Among the commission’s witnesses was a woman whose partner was denied health benefits by a CEO who thought a civil union just meant moving in with your a girlfriend.

Then there’s the Supreme Court of California, which wrote, “differential treatment at issue impinges upon a same-sex couple’s fundamental interest in having their family relationship accorded the same respect and dignity enjoyed by an opposite-sex couple.”

And finally, the Supreme Court of Connecticut wrote: “the segregation of heterosexual and homosexual couples into separate institutions constitutes a cognizable harm.”

So no. It’s not the same.

“But marriage is more than a commitment between two adults. It was created for the care and well-being of the next generation.”

According to the last Census, twenty percent of gay and lesbian couples are raising children. And we proved during the Prop 8 trial that marriage discrimination is harmful to their kids.

During the Prop 8 trial, Professor Lee Badgett testified that laws like Prop 8 have “inflicted substantial economic harm on same sex couples and their children.”

And Psychologist Doctor Michael Lamb testified that “for a significant number of these children [raised by gay and lesbian parents], their adjustment would be promoted were their parents able to get married.”

Even one of the Prop 8 proponents’ own witnesses, David Blankenhorn, admitted that the freedom to marry “would extend a wide range of the natural and practical benefits of marriage to many lesbian and gay couples and their children.”

“When laws like 74 have occurred elsewhere, people who disagree faced lawsuits, fines, and punishment.”

Okay, this is a pretty transparent scare tactic. Just use some common sense: obviously, nobody gets punished simply for disagreeing with a law. That’s just ridiculous. The truth is that these are people who did more than disagree. A lot more.

For example, the people pictured at the top left are Jim and Mary O’Reilly. They own a resort in Vermont that refused service to a lesbian couple. Under the Vermont Fair Housing and Public Accommodations Act, that’s no different from refusing service on the basis of race, religion, or disability. That’s why they were sued.

In the upper right is Damian Goddard, a newscaster who made anti-gay statements online.

Goddard claims that he was fired because of his tweet, but the news station says it was for “well-documented reasons,” that they won’t reveal since it’s a personnel matter.

In the lower right is Rose Marie Belforti, a town clerk in New York who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. But issuing licenses is her job. She’s a public official, and she wanted free reign to only serve certain citizens, and leave the rest to fend for themselves. Government employees just can’t do that.

Republican San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders put it best during the Prop 8 trial: “if government tolerates discrimination against anyone for any reason, it becomes an excuse for the public to do exactly the same thing.”

And the fourth couple — we don’t actually know who that is. Do you recognize them? Let us know in the comments if you know who they are.

“You can oppose same-sex marriage and not be anti-gay.”

That is grammatically weird, logically weird, and legally wrong. ur opponents oppose the freedom to marry because they say that gay and lesbian couples are inferior to straight couples. That is the definition of anti-gay.

And it cannot be the basis for a law. We’ve been though this already with Prop 8. The District Court ruled in our case, “Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians. The evidence shows conclusively that Proposition 8 enacts, without reason, a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples … Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license.”

So they’re trying the same old tricks that they pulled four years ago with Prop 8. The difference is that this time, we’ve had a trial. We’ve gathered evidence. We’ve proven in court — twice — that banning marriage is unconstitutional. No matter what state you’re in.



  • 1. Mark Mead-Brewer  |  October 23, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    It's a real shame that the people calling the shots here in WA didn't bother to spend a dime of the 10 million dollars raised to counter any of the lies from our enemies. Sadly all we got was more feel good stories of….. "I want my daughters to be able to marry" or "We met a lesbian couple and they're just like us"
    Not one single ad showing the lies being told….not one singole ad debunking any of the crap from the other side. The closet was from a collection of clergy talking about religious freedoms being intact.
    Makes me sad and a tad bit angry actually………

  • 2. Gregory in SLC  |  October 23, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    I hear you Mark! I wondering who can make it happen…the suggestion by Jesse and Straight Ally to use a condensed version of Matt's video.

    Hey Matt and AFER…can you do this?!

  • 3. Steve  |  October 23, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    I agree. I've been saying this since Prop 8, and it *never changes*. It's infuriating that there is NO response to these lies, time after time after time after time after time.

    I'm beginning to think that marriage equality will NEVER win at the ballot box because there just isn't any backbone to stand up to the lies.

    Frankly, you all should just give up fighting in the election process…because you never actually fight. Stick to the courts (and hope that the Supreme Court doesn't uphold DOMA and other anti-equality measures because they, too, can see a whatever-0 result in state elections).

    At this point, I'm predicting 4 losses come November 6.

  • 4. devon  |  October 24, 2012 at 4:17 am

    I'd go with a prediction of 5 losses on nov 6, as Romney appears stronger with each new poll.

  • 5. Mike in Baltimore  |  October 24, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    Which polls, 'devon'?

    Remember, the US votes by the count in the individual states, not what is reported in national polls.

  • 6. devon  |  October 25, 2012 at 3:29 am

    As of today Romney is leading in the following polls- AP, Gallup, Rasmussen, ABC news by margins of 1-4 points.
    More importantly, Romney is leading in NC, VA, FL, CO, NH.

  • 7. devon  |  October 25, 2012 at 6:49 am

    And all important OH and even PA are now considered toss ups, with Romney shows sustained momentum in all swing states.

  • 8. Mike in Baltimore  |  October 25, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    Yep, Rasmussen today published a poll showing a 48-48 tie between Obama and Robme, based on a poll conducted of 500 likely voters on 10/23. However, Time conducted a poll of 742 likely voters on 10/22 through 23, and that poll showed a lead by President Obama of 5, 49-44

    The last poll showing Robme leading in Pennsylvania? A poll conducted 10/11 – 10/13 by Susquehanna (a Republican leaning outfit) for the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania.

    By the way, Rasmussen only polls by automated phone calling, and Federal law states that it is a violation of Federal law for automated polling to be placed to cell phones. Thus Rasmussen's ONLY calls are to land lines. It's known that the younger a person is, the more likely they are to not own a land line phone. It's also known that the older a person is (and thus the more likely they are to have a land line phone only), the more likely they are to support GOP candidates.

    What's that tell us about Rasmussen's polls?

  • 9. Mike in Baltimore  |  October 25, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    'devon' ?

    And those polls you mention (As of today Romney is leading in the following polls- AP, Gallup, Rasmussen, ABC news by margins of 1-4 points.) are all state polls, devon? Or are they national polls, devon? Remember, it's not who wins the most votes nationally, but who wins the most votes in each state. Otherwise, we would have had President Gore from 2001 to 2005 (at least).

    As to the states you cite where you say Robme is leading?

    In North Carolina, PPP says it is a tie (48 all); Gravis Marketing says Obama is leading by a 47-44 margin;

    Virginia? Politico says that Obama is leading by 48.2-46.9 based on the polling data from the past few weeks; PPP says that Obama is leading 51-46; JZ Analytics/Newsmax says Obama is leading 49-47.

    Florida? Yes, Politico says Robme is leading, but a 48.0-47.8 margin is hardly a huge lead. Oh, and Grove Insight says Obama is leading 49-47, and Mellman says it is a 47-47 tie.

    Many times, it depends on which polls you rely on when you state that one person or another is leading, and even then you need to watch the trend of the polling, not just the latest poll from your favorite pollster.

    Which poll do you rely on, totally and only? Rasmussen?

  • 10. Stefan in CA  |  October 24, 2012 at 7:47 am

    And if that happens, specifically in WA and Maine, I think the lack of these types of ads will be a primary reason. How can Marriage equality Washington have so many millions of dollars and no ads telling people that what they're being told by the other side is simply not true? Do you want to lose? Because the lack of ads addressing the lies straight on is a sure way to do it. Are any of these comments being heard? You know very well from history what NOM is going to come up with and need to fight back with not true and here's why.

  • 11. Mark Mead-Brewer  |  October 24, 2012 at 8:21 am

    The comments are being herad yes…but not heeded. I have had a rather heated email exchange with one of the 'leaders' and it was a brick wall………..

  • 12. PDx_Sr8_Supporter  |  October 23, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    Totally agree – why is "liar, liar, pants on fire" not part of the overall messaging?

  • 13. Jesse  |  October 23, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Seriously. Take this post above, make it the script for a new ad in WA.

  • 14. Gregory in SLC  |  October 23, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    AGREE! This video from AFER/Matt B is excellent if can be edited down for TV spot. Combat the lies directly. First president debate went badly for President Obama because he was too quiet (aka nice/polite)…. he came across much for favorably when confronting the lies.

  • 15. Mike in Baltimore  |  October 23, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    An idea for a what could be a short, but I think extremely effective message, would be to ask anyone who thinks civil unions are 'good enough' if they would exchange their 'marriage' to a 'civil union', and if not, why not.

    I really doubt that anyone could find many who would do that, though. And almost all who wouldn't would speak of 'holy matrimony' and 'marriage in a church', and that would be an easy opening to tell people that 'holy matrimony' is a religious ceremony, but ALL marriages, whether conducted in a church or at the Justice of the Peace office (or wherever), are civil, not religious.

  • 16. Gregory in SLC  |  October 23, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    It appears that Damian Goddard has a new job……!

  • 17. Gregory in SLC  |  October 23, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    I was trying to figure out the mystery persons in Matt's video came across a couple of old videos…..

    1st, Nom's same reverse discrimination arguments…from 2009, same arguments

    2nd, one of my FAVORITE EVER replies to this ridiculousness:

  • 18. John_B_in_DC  |  October 23, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    I'd like to see more of this kind of ad:

  • 19. Gregory in SLC  |  October 23, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    Appreciate having an actual couple speak. Such a contrast to the actors that NOM employ. tx for sharing

  • 20. Seth from Maryland  |  October 23, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    [youtube ro6Y8qvT1G8& youtube]

    New Washington Ad an its damn good ad 🙂

  • 21. Seth from Maryland  |  October 23, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    [youtube ro6Y8qvT1G8& youtube]

  • 22. Gregory in SLC  |  October 24, 2012 at 7:54 am

    can't see the Ad Seth, mind post a URL?

  • 23. Straight Ally #3008  |  October 23, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Just broadcast a condensed version of this explanation! Matt, could that happen?

  • 24. SHOES THROWER  |  October 23, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    The District Court ruled in our case, “Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians. The evidence shows conclusively that Proposition 8 enacts, without reason, a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples … Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license.”

    If you want to cherry-pick court cases, you might want to look at two other court cases decided that year.

    Protection component and Due Process Clause of the Constitution, U.S. Const. amend. V, because the
    DMA defines marriage exclusively as union between couples of opposite sex. The matter has already
    been addressed by the Ninth Circuit in Adams v. Howerton, 673 F.2d 1036 (9th Cir. 1982). There, the
    Ninth Circuit held that the agency’s interpretation of marriage in the Immigration and Nationality Act
    (“INA”), 8 U.S.C. § 1151(b), as one that excludes same-sex couples did not violate the Due Process
    Clause or the right to equal protection. It held that even if fundamental rights were affected by the
    distinction, rational basis scrutiny applied and found that Congress had a rational basis for treating
    same-sex and opposite-sex couples differently. Id. at 1041. (“We hold that Congress's decision to confer
    spouse status . . . only upon the parties to heterosexual marriages has a rational basis and therefore
    comports with the due process clause and its equal protection requirements.”).
    At the time that Adams was decided, the DMA had not been enacted. Yet the enactment of the
    DMA does not affect the inquiry. The DMA mandates that government agencies limit the definition of
    marriage between a man and a woman. 1 U.S.C. § 7. That is precisely how the INA was interpreted in
    Adams. That USCIS relied on the DMA to deny Plaintiffs’ Petition as opposed to its own interpretation
    of the INA does not change the fact that binding Ninth Circuit authority dictates that denying I-130
    petitions to same-sex couples does not violate the Constitution<?b>. Nor does the legality of Plaintiffs’
    marriage in California help Plaintiffs, as “Congress did not intend the mere validity of a marriage under
    state law to be controlling.” Adams, 673 F.2d at 1039. Therefore, Plaintiffs’ equal protection claim is
    barred as a matter of law.

    Torres-Barragan v. Holder, No. 09-08564 (C.D. Cal. 2010)

    We agree with those courts that have found no equal-protection violation.   The state has a legitimate interest in promoting the raising of children in the optimal familial setting.   It is reasonable for the state to conclude that the optimal familial setting for the raising of children is the household headed by an opposite-sex couple.

    In Re Marriage of J.B. and H.B. , 326 S.W.3d 654 at 675-677(Texas 5th Cir. Ct. of Appeal 2010)

  • 25. Mike in Baltimore  |  October 24, 2012 at 12:42 am

    "Texas 5th Cir. Ct. of Appeal"

    Again, a state court?

    It might apply in Tex-ass, but that is the extent of jurisdiction.

    Quoting DIRECTLY from Wikipedia:
    "In the Matter of the Marriage of J.B. and H.B., 326 S.W.3d 654 (Tx. 5th Cir. Ct of Appeal 2010) is a Texas 5th Circuit Court of Appeal decision holding that Texas family courts lack jursidiction to hear divorce cases from same-sex couples married in foreign jurisdictions, and that Texas's Proposition 2 is consistent with the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment."

    Please note that the Court is an Appeals court in and for the state of Tex-ass, and that the court ONLY ruled on application of a STATE constitutional amendment.

  • 26. fiona64  |  October 25, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Michael, I wish you would grow even half as weary of your ignorance and pedantry as the rest of us have …

  • 27. Mark Mead-Brewer  |  October 24, 2012 at 8:11 am

    I did see an Ad this early AM that actually talked about some of the lies! I was OVER JOYED!!
    FINALLY!!! Really to bad it took until 10 days before the final day of voting….but still

  • 28. Steve the Second  |  October 24, 2012 at 10:05 am

    To make it even more clear:

    They aren't running afoul of marriage equality, but of anti-discrimination laws. It's already illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation in WA. That's also why people got sued in New Jersey or New Mexico – which don't have marriage equality.

  • 29. Mike Ho.  |  October 24, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    <img src=""/>Hate this ad, and nobody's gonna believe what they say either. <img src=""/&gt;

  • 30. Steve  |  October 24, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    I'm just not buying it…I don't think they've been heard at all. Prop 8 was 4 years ago, and in virtually every case since then, NOM and the anti-equality bigots have trotted out the *exact* same arguments and essentially the same ads…to devastating effect. They win *every single time* because *their* strategy is working.

    Yours isn't. It's just that simple. They're hammering you with lies and you're replying with the soft-sell.


  • 31. Mark Mead-Brewer  |  October 24, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    The responce I got from Equality WA and CC was '
    "Well we've held focus groups, and everyone agreed we need to not be overly aggressive, as we don't want to turn anyone off from our message"
    My question is WHEN do we stop being the punching bag and start fighting back…..I don;t like aggressive behavior as a rule, but why do our Ads and our press releases all have to be such milk toast????

  • 32. Fr. Bill  |  October 24, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Did they ever fire that town clerk in NY for refusing to do her job? I think she got re-elected.

  • 33. MightyAcorn  |  October 24, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    Good question. Anyone know whether there was a follow-up story?

  • 34. SHOES THROWER  |  October 24, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    Campaign fact check: Same-sex couples have visitation right

    A second pro-Referendum 74 television ad from Washington United for Marriage implies that same-sex couples’ hospital visitation rights are at risk if voters don’t back the state’s gay marriage law.

    The ad started airing Friday in Seattle and Spokane markets on broadcast channels and statewide on cable channels.

    SCRIPT: Chris Morningstar, listed on the ad as “WA mother & grandmother”: “I’m so proud of my daughter Sarah. She and her partner, Cheryl, are just wonderful parents. When Cheryl was diagnosed with brain cancer, my heart just went out to all of them. It really hurts watching them fight this cancer, and what’s just as hard, is watching what they’ve had to go through because they’re not legally married. One night in the hospital Cheryl had a seizure, she was asking for Sarah and no one called. Only marriage guarantees that all couples can be there for each other when it really matters.”

    ANALYSIS: Same-sex couples do already have hospital visitation rights under the state’s first domestic partnership law that passed in 2007, granting couples about two dozen rights, including hospital visitation, the ability to authorize autopsies, and organ donations and inheritance rights when there is no will.

  • 35. Steve the Second  |  October 25, 2012 at 6:52 am

    The same happened in every other state that has domestic partnerships or civil unions. It has also been documented in Vermont, New Jersey and Nevada among others. People are simply ignorant of the law. That wouldn't happen with marriage equality.

    There was this case in Nevada recently for example:

    And that's just the ones who bother to speak up

  • 36. SHOES THROWER  |  October 25, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    People are simply ignorant of the law

    Ignorantia juris non excusat

    Look it up.

  • 37. fiona64  |  October 26, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Stop trying to pretend you're a lawyer … and that you didn't look up the Latin to try to make yourself look smarter than you are.

    Try this one on for size, Mr. "Latin Scholar": Egrota. Look it up.

  • 38. SHOES THROWER  |  October 27, 2012 at 10:56 am

    The couple in that case declined to sue.

  • 39. Steve the Second  |  October 27, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Doesn't mean they didn't have a case you subhuman asswipe. It just means they wanted to grief in peace and not have the added turmoil of a trial.

  • 40. SHOES THROWER  |  October 27, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Or they could have been paid off…

  • 41. fiona64  |  October 25, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    ::sigh:: Unless, of course those rights are ignored — which happens even when the party has his or her *proof of DP* in-hand.

    You're full of it, as usual, Michael.

  • 42. SHOES THROWER  |  October 25, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    And where are the lawsuits following from these ignorance of rights? From the article:

    "[Anne] Levinson said she wasn’t aware of any lawsuits filed based on violations of the state’s domestic partnership law."

    One reason these domestic partnership/civil union laws were opposed by NOM et al in the first place was the threat of such lawsuits. why has not Levinson been able to name an example of a single lawsuit?

  • 43. fiona64  |  October 26, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Perhaps you can try reading for comprehension. One may not be "aware" of everything, obviously — but I just showed you a link to an example of a lawsuit filed based on violation of domestic partnership laws.

    Here's a little more Latin for you: Abi in malam crucem.

  • 44. SHOES THROWER  |  October 27, 2012 at 11:47 am

    The example happened in Florida, which does not recognize domestic partnerships.

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