Over the next week, I’m going to be sharing some ads that have aired in various states supporting marriage amendments. It’s important to understand the tactics that will be used here in Minnesota so that we can prepare friends and family for them and how to respond.
The above ad was run in California by supporters of Prop 8 and features no spoken words. Instead, the video features a little girl (maybe 2 or 3?) playing with two dolls: A groom and a wife. For the duration of the ad, she twirls and holds the dolls while a soft guitar strums in the background.
In the last five seconds of the 30 second ad, the words: “Marriage. It’s simple. Vote Yes on Prop 8” appear.
This ad features a common tactic used by amendment supporters: children. Time and time again, strategists have found that using children resonates with voters on the issue of marriage, especially those opposing same-sex marriage. In other commercials I’ll post, you’ll see another common tactic used, fear. Fear, combined with children (our kids will be taught about gay marriage in kindergarten if this passes, etc.) has been a winning strategy in many states.
This ad is designed to show that even from an early age, children know how marriage is defined. However, there’s a critical fault to the logic: the child in this ad only knows what she has been taught. A similar ad could have been used in the 60s; a child of that time would have held up the same two white dolls and the text at the end of the ad would have read the same. The only difference is that the ad would have been in opposition to interracial marriage at the time. Just because a child may be taught one thing or another, it doesn’t make it an accurate representation of society.
While the logic flaw is clear, make no mistake, this type of ad resonates extremely well with voters. In seeing the ad, the voter thinks, “Yeah, that does make sense. If we don’t pass this amendment, how will children be impacted?” But now that we better understand the tactic, we can help others think about an ad like this differently when they see it.
When these ads start to surface (online, TV, print), we need to talk about them and share our thoughts. My hope is that our friends, family and colleagues will think more along the lines of, “Marriage is about love and commitment and that’s what I want to teach our children.”
And that’s the kind of thinking is what will defeat this thing.
Note: Watch for additional commercials in the coming weeks.