Wash. State Activists Pay for Olympic Marriage Equality Ad
As part of their marriage equality public education campaign, "Why Marriage Matters Washington," the Seattle-based Pride Foundation ran a statewide TV ad during the July 27 opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics, featuring an endorsement from Washington Republican Senator Cheryl Pflug. Supporters hope that the advertisement will help people understand the importance of securing the freedom to marry for all Washingtonians and approve the pro-gay-marriage Referendum 74.
"We have gotten extraordinary positive feedback about the ad, and for Sen. Pflug being the messenger in the ad," said Pride Foundation Executive Director Kris A. Hermanns. "I personally thought she was passionate, and that it was a powerful, great way to introduce LGBTQ families and their hopes and values into the living rooms of the people watching the Olympics."
In the ad, Sen. Pflug said that as a Republican, she believes in freedom, and that includes the freedom to marry the person that you love. Pflug, who is not a lesbian, was one of the first Republican state senators to announce support for gay marriage.
In February, she and three of her Senate colleagues cast the Republican votes needed to pass Washington's marriage equality bill on a bipartisan vote of 28-21. The House passed the bill and Gov. Christine Gregoire signed it into law, but its enactment is on hold until voters decide whether to approve or reject it, in a referendum vote to be held this November.
"Sen. Pflug is a wonderful spokesperson who speaks passionately about the love between same-sex couples, and opens hearts and minds, similar to what these Olympic athletes who are coming out do, and that's just what our education campaign does," Hermanns told EDGE.
The ad campaign, paid for through small, individual donations to the Pride Foundation, has already mobilized community support from the business and labor leaders, elected officials and community leaders, entertainment and media figures and even the faith community.
"What changed my mind was the personal stories," said Pastor Michael Gray. "We're not here to judge each other, we're here to love each other. And no clergy person will ever have to go against their own set of core beliefs."
Parents Paul and Jennette Reddicker, married 42 years, admitted that they were not gay-friendly until their daughter came out as a lesbian. It was their priest who reminded them that their child was still the same person as she always was.
"I would be very happy if my oldest daughter could get married at home," said Jennette Reddicker, referring to the possibility of Referendum 74 passing in Washington State.
Hermanns was excited to learn that there were more than 20 out LGBT athletes competing in the 2012 Summer Olympics, and said that she hoped the work of "Why Marriage Matters" Washington would help expand the conversation across the country to secure marriage equality rights for all committed and loving couples, including Olympic athletes across the world.
Washington State Activists See Movement on Several Fronts
This media campaign comes on the heels of another newsworthy development in Washington's struggle for marriage equality: the recent donation to another local group, Washington United for Marriage, of $100,000 each by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer in early July, and the more recent pledge of $2.5 million by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie, in what is believed to be the largest-ever single donation to the campaign for marriage equality in the United States.
Hermanns noted that she and her allies at the Pride Foundation were running "Why Marriage Matters Washington" as a purely issue-based, education campaign, while the Washington United for Marriage group was handling the political aspects of the state's struggle for marriage equality.
"We are very excited about [the Bezos'] extraordinary support and Microsoft's $100,000 each," said Hermanns about the funding given to those at Washington United for Marriage. "But our primary mission at Pride Foundation is to invigorate the conversation."
The Pride Foundation's "Why Marriage Matters" educational campaign may not garner the hundreds of thousands of dollars in individual donations that Washington United for Marriage's political track receives, but they do have the support of numerous community groups.
While the Pride Foundation raised enough funds to run this ad campaign during the Olympics, Hermanns said that they had not garnered nearly the same level of financial support from individual donors as did Washington United for Marriage. Hermanns did not share figures on how much it cost to run the advertisement during the Olympics opening ceremony.
The primary mission of the Pride Foundation, which has been in existence for 27 years, is to elevate issues that are critical to LGBT families. The "Why Marriage Matters" ad campaign is part of a wave of similar efforts across the country to provide ongoing education and attention to marriage equality.
"What I hope we're doing is continuing to provide more people with the opportunity to share their stories about why marriage matters and show that same-sex couples want to marry for the same reasons as others: to ensure their lifelong commitment to protect their families," Hermanns told EDGE. "We see that, in terms of public awareness and support for marriage equality, we are at the highest rate ever in the history of our country and in polling around the issue. As for me, I remain hopeful."
For more information on the ad campaign, visit