October 4, 2012 | by Michael K. Lavers
Marriage ads to hit Md. airwaves
Steve Elmendorf, Martin O'Malley, Governor of Maryland, Marylanders for Marriage Equality, gay news, Washington Blade

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley at a Tuesday fundraiser in D.C.  (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Public records indicate that the campaign to defend Maryland’s same-sex marriage law has purchased hundreds of thousands of dollars of airtime on local television stations ahead of next month’s referendum.

Documents posted on the Federal Communications Commission’s website indicate that Marylanders for Marriage Equality has purchased $297,325 of air time on WBAL in Baltimore for 291 30-second advertisements that are scheduled to run from Oct. 10 through Nov. 6. FCC records further note that the campaign has also purchased $253,000.01 worth of air time on WJLA in D.C. from Oct. 29 through Nov. 6. Marylanders for Marriage Equality has also purchased airtime on WUSA in the nation’s capital, but documents filed with the FCC do not indicate a specific cost.

FCC records further indicate that the campaign has also made inquiries into potential media buys with WJZ in Baltimore and WRC in D.C.

Documents further note that Media Strategies and Research of Fairfax, Va., produced the ads. Josh Levin, campaign director of Marylanders for Marriage Equality, declined to answer questions about their specific content. He stressed, however, that they are part of what he described as the campaign’s ongoing outreach to Maryland voters on Question 6.

“We’ve seen the polls tightening in the public numbers over the last week,” said Levin. “That’s why it’s so important for us to get out on the air and get the message out there. We need to get the message to as many people as possible. That’s what we’ve been asking our supporters to do.”

Levin told supporters in a Sept. 20 e-mail that said the campaign needed to raise $500,000 over the “next two weeks” to counter Question 6 opponents’ ads. He said in the same fundraising pitch that Marylanders for Marriage Equality had only been able to purchase a week’s worth of television air time “in some places so far.” FCC records indicate that the Maryland Marriage Alliance has purchased $93,475 of air time on WBAL for 110 30-second ads that are slated to run from Oct. 8 through Nov. 5. The group has also purchased air time on WMAR in Baltimore.

FCC documents note that Frank Schubert of Mission: Public Affairs, LLC, in Sacramento, Calif., on July 12 requested air time on both WJLA and WUSA. Schubert, who is the national political director for the National Organization for Marriage, masterminded the campaign behind California’s voter-approved Proposition 8 that banned nuptials for same-sex couples in 2008. He also led efforts to overturn Maine’s 2009 law that would have allowed gays and lesbians to tie the knot and to pass a constitutional amendment earlier this year in North Carolina that defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

Levin implied that his organization’s Sept. 20 appeal was successful.

“I think you could draw that conclusion,” he told the Blade.

 

Marriage campaign needs to raise an additional $1 million

Gov. Martin O’Malley said during an Oct. 2 fundraiser for Marylanders for Marriage Equality at the D.C. home of gay Democratic lobbyist Steve Elmendorf that the campaign still needs to raise an additional $1 million before Election Day. He told a group of LGBT bloggers and reporters during a Sept. 24 conference call that Marylanders for Marriage Equality needed an additional $2 million ahead of the Nov. 6 election.

“This is by no means done,” said O’Malley. “And in your presence here tonight, I hope that when you leave here, you leave here committed to help us turn on the after-burners for the next 36 days.”

The D.C. fundraiser took place two days after the Baltimore Sun released a poll that shows 49 percent of likely Maryland voters support the state’s same-sex marriage law, compared to 39 percent who oppose it. A Gonzalez Research poll last week notes that 51 percent of Marylanders would back Question 6, compared to 43 percent who would vote against it.

Meanwhile, Baltimore Ravens center Mark Birk earlier this week spoke out against marriage rights for same-sex couples in an op-ed in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune newspaper in his native Minnesota. He also appeared in a Minnesota Catholic Conference web ad in support of a proposed constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman in the state.

“I can put up a lot from the government like higher taxes and while I don’t like it, pushing God out of schools. But letting a small number of business and government elites and judges define what marriage is for Minnesotans doesn’t seem very fair. It doesn’t make a lot of sense,” said Birk, who compared a lawsuit that seeks to overturn the state’s same-sex marriage ban to the Iowa Supreme Court decision that led to nuptials for gays and lesbians in the Hawkeye State. “Politicians have said they will try to redefine marriage at their earliest opportunity, even next year if the marriage amendment doesn’t pass. Our culture today of moral irrelevantism attacks marriage and a lot of our Catholic values, but marriage is the foundation of our society and is definitely something worth fighting for — my marriage and the institution itself. A lot of people say live and let live; let everybody do what they want. But this is too important of an issue to do that on. We need to stand up and fight for it and preserve it for our sake, for our children’s sake and for the sake of our entire society. The state should have laws to protect marriage because it was around long before the state came around. I don’t think it’s their place to redefine it.”

Ravens linebacker Brendan Ayanbadejo continues to speak out in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples in Maryland.

“We should be doing everything we can to make Maryland families stronger, which is why I support marriage for gay and lesbian couples who want to make a lifetime commitment together,” he says in a Marylanders for Marriage Equality web ad. “People from all walks of life, including gay and lesbian couples, want their children to be in stable homes and protected under the law.”

Ayanbadejo is scheduled to attend a Marylanders for Marriage Equality fundraiser with O’Malley in Baltimore on Oct. 8.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

4 Comments
  • The anti-equality group is the “Maryland Marriage Alliance” not the “Maryland Family Alliance” as is reported above.

    Also, it would be good if the Blade could explore the unusual campaign activity going on on the anti-equality side. In both WA and MN, the anti-equality side has made air time purchases of greater value than their reported cash contributions. For example, Dominic Holden of TheStranger.com reported $1.5 million in ad buys in WA, even though the anti-equality group doesn’t have anywhere near that amount in available cash. If money has been pledged or promised, that counts as a reportable contribution; yet somehow, the anti-equality side is able to make purchases that exceed their contributions.

    More bizarrely, as you can see from the FCC records, MD television stations reported inquiries made by the anti-equality groups not only operating in MD, but also in Maine, Washington and Minnesota. It appears that what may be going on is that Schubert’s Mission Public Affairs is lumping all 4 campaigns together and using that as a justification for underreporting the financial commitments backing the ads.

    The Blade should get on the phone and find out what is going on.

  • How about buying TV time in Salisbury and Hagerstown? They shouldn’t write those ares off.

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