Back in November Texas for Marriage announced that the pro-gay marriage group was coming to Texas and launching a statewide campaign to try and gather support for gay marriage in advance of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals hearing oral arguments on the Lone Star State question on same-sex marriage bans. Well, the Fifth is slated to hear oral arguments on the case this week so it's no coincidence that the first statewide ads from Freedom to Marry started airing on Sunday.
Texas for Marriage is a joint campaign by Freedom to Marry and Equality Texas aimed at garnering bipartisan support for gay marriage across the state. Campaign director Ward Curtin told us back in November that the $200,000 campaign would be focused on taking the issue out of the political spectrum and making it personal. "It's been a political issue for so long that the debate has been devoid of the human story," he says. "This campaign is all personal story telling. It's about loving committed couples who want to marry the person they love. This is focused on communicating to the public that they want to get married for the same reasons everyone else does."
Based on the first statewide campaign commercial which aired on Sunday, that approach translates to having people from the LGBT community and their friends and coworkers talk about who they are and why they want the right to marry. This ad starts things off focused on a police officer.
The 30-second TV spot features three Fort Worth police officers gathered around a table -- the place gives you the feeling that maybe they're at a steak restaurant and the atmosphere is purposefully casual -- with fellow policeman Chris Gorrie. We learn over the course of the ad that Gorrie has been a police officer since 2006 and he has been living with his partner, Justin, for a long time and the couple wants to get married.
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The tone never gets strident as the advertisement quickly hones in on the point, that this is a question of freedom. "Freedom is a big deal; the freedom to marry, the freedom to say what you want to say, and the freedom to do what you want to do," Gorrie says toward the end of the spot. But it's fellow officer Jay Doshi who really delivers the message. "Texans believe in freedom and liberty and part of that is to be able to marry who you love, so Chris should be able to marry whoever he loves."
The ad aired during news and public information programs on Sunday and Monday in Houston, Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, El Paso along with other cities across the state.
The Fifth Circuit is set to hear oral arguments on the case, De Leon v. Perry, along with similar cases from Louisiana and Mississippi on Friday. Last year U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled against the state's same-sex marriage ban, but stayed his ruling until the Fifth weighed in. Meanwhile, federal judges across the country have overturned similar laws as unconstitutional. And now there's this ad.