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Pro-gay marriage ads start airing statewide during Olympic Games’ opening ceremony tonight

Post by Brad Shannon / The Olympian on July 27, 2012 at 6:10 am |
July 27, 2012 7:04 am

A Northwest gay-advocacy group is airing television ads statewide tonight in support of same-sex marriage during the local televising of the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games from London.

The ads, sponsored by the Seattle-based Pride Foundation, feature former Washington state senator Cheryl Pflug, a Republican from suburban Maple Valley who talks about gay and lesbian couples she has known and the need to let them marry.

Pride Foundation and New York-based Freedom to Marry released copies of the 30-second ad exclusively to The Olympian and News Tribune late Thursday.

Pflug provided one of the key votes that passed a gay-marriage law in the Legislature this year. Washington’s marriage law is now in limbo awaiting results of a high-stakes public vote on Referendum 74 on Nov. 6. Religious conservatives blocked the law from taking effect in June by collecting enough petition signatures to force the question to a public vote.

In fact, Washington is one of four states – including Maine, Maryland and Minnesota – where a same-sex marriage issue is on the ballot. Washington voters were the first to affirm same-sex relationships in the law when they upheld a domestic partnership law in 2009.

Kris Hermanns, executive director for the Pride Foundation, said the ad is part of a broader educational campaign and not aimed at R-74, which if passed would make Washington the first state to affirm same-sex marriage at the ballot box. In an email, Hermanns said:

“The Why Marriage Matters-Washington ad, featuring Senator Pflug, does not advocate for any piece of legislation or direct any action. This is an educational, issue-based ad completely separate from and independent of [Referendum] 74. It is part of Pride Foundation’s ongoing education campaign focused on the freedom [to] marry. …”
“We are making a significant investment in the ad to cover most of the state for the duration of Olympics. The ad buy will likely be in the six figures, but we won’t know the exact figure until we review and adjust the ad buy if necessary in the weeks ahead.

The Olympic Games’ opening ceremonies are scheduled to start airing at 7:30 p.m. PDT, and the ad is tentatively scheduled to run at 7:56 p.m. in Seattle on KING 5-TV, the NBC-affiliate on channel 5. The ad tentatively airs at about 9:46 p.m. on KNDO in Yakima and at 11:32 p.m. on KHQ in Spokane, according to Angela Dallara, a spokeswoman for Freedom to Marry, who helped coordinate the media release.

In the news release that the group plans to distribute broadly today, Hermanns described the goal of the ads:

“This advertisement reflects the fundamental values of Washington State – where all families are treated with respect and dignity under the law – and that is why it will be so powerful … We took this step of investing in television because it will invigorate and expand the conversations we’ve had across Washington about the importance of marriage for all loving and committed couples. Washington is a state where we treat others as we want to be treated, and that includes being able to marry the person you love.”

Pflug was one of a half-dozen Republican lawmakers who crossed the aisle to vote with majority Democrats for Senate Bill 6239, the bill legalizing same-sex marriage.

As we reported in February, Pflug said she had pretty much made up her mind in support of gay marriage as far back as 2007 – at the time she cast a vote in favor of the state’s first in a series of domestic-partner rights laws. Since that time, Pflug has tangled with her own political party – particularly over the way she withdrew her candidacy for re-election in May after accepting an appointment from Gov. Chris Gregoire to a growth-management hearings board job. Pflug withdrew too late for Republicans to recruit a strong replacement, and the intra-party dispute recently spilled over into the naming of her temporary successor.

In the foundation’s news release, Pflug makes a statement about the principle she is standing for:

“The freedom to marry has broad support across our state. The Golden Rule is a value deeply held here, and that means that same-sex couples should to be able to be part of a family … No one should be denied the freedom to marry the person they love. When a couple has made a promise of love and commitment, they should have that commitment recognized under the law, and that commitment is called marriage. This is an historic moment in Washington State history, and I’m proud to be able to speak in favor of the freedom to marry.”

Stay tuned.

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