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 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:
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: