See the original of this article on the Sacramento Bee website at this link.
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Marcos Bretón: Gay people missing in Prop. 8 ads
By Marcos Bretón
By Marcos Bretón
Published 12:00 am PDT Sunday, October 12, 2008
In the public relations battle over legalizing same-sex marriage, it appears gay people have been relegated to the background.
They are invisible in television ads arguing for and against Proposition 8 – the initiative that would eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry.
Though many gays and lesbians see Prop. 8 as a civil rights issue, the campaign against it has been framed only by heterosexuals speaking in reassuring tones about gay people getting married. And from the proposition’s supporters, a commercial features San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom – the guy who was once caught up in a public affair with the wife of a close friend.
You’ve probably seen it: Footage of Newsom gloating that gay marriage is here “whether you like it or not.”
That single ad is part of a recent change in momentum. What was shaping up as an easy win for gay marriage has become a political dogfight.
It is also ingenious political advertising. It pushes hot buttons against gay marriage without belittling images.
As in anti-Prop. 8 ads, gay people are silent and in the background of the Newsom commercial. The desire of gays to legally marry is merely implied.
The commercial supporting Prop. 8 was conceived in Sacramento by political consultant Frank Schubert, whose office overlooks the state Capitol park.
Schubert was a veteran of successful campaigns you’ve barely heard of before his Catholic beliefs and personal opposition to gay marriage led him to this role as chief strategist in the Yes on Prop. 8 campaign.
Schubert’s opponent on the other side is also based in Sacramento – Steve Smith, a former high-ranking Gray Davis official who has never lost when his goal was getting voters to vote “no” on a statewide proposition.
In their ads, both have avoided popular images of gays and overt proclamations for or against a gay lifestyle.
Both campaigns seem to want to make their cases without upsetting people who might vote for them.
It’s as if they don’t want their campaigns about gay people to be sidetracked by gay people.
For Schubert, Prop. 8 isn’t about tolerance. People like him are tolerant, he says. To them, it’s about preventing marriage from being used as a social experiment.
“How gay marriage will be taught in the public schools is emerging as the biggest issue in the campaign,” Schubert said Friday.
Smith bristles at this suggestion. “If this campaign is about eliminating marriage as a right, (Schubert) loses.” That’s why “he has to change the subject,” Smith said.
Schubert’s suggestion does smack of scare tactic, while Smith will continue to argue gay marriage is a fundamental right – one that shouldn’t be argued anymore.
It’s like having the right to be who you are in public – to be equal under the sun with anyone else.
It’s a worthwhile goal, but on TV it’s being debated by heterosexuals.