In The Life Media Launches “Marriage Matters” campaign with partner orgs Freedom To Marry and Equality North Carolina.


With little time to make an impact (the primary with the amendment on the ballot is May 8, 2012), one of the most powerful and persuasive arguments that discrimination enshrined into North Carolina’s constitution is wrong and damaging is to show those who are targeted by this bigotry — real gay and lesbian couples and families.

In The Life Media today announced the launch of a series of online videos about marriage equality produced in partnership with Freedom to Marry and with the generous support from The Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund. The videos, featuring the voices of real gay and lesbian couples telling their stories, emphasize that same-sex couples want to marry for similar reasons to straight couples and illustrate how denying couples access to marriage can cause real harm and challenge a family’s ability to care for each other. These videos demonstrate the power of personal stories of love and commitment, told through media, to educate the public on this issue.

“With these videos, In The Life Media is creating media with a mission. Our partnership with Freedom to Marry and Equality North Carolina is a perfect example of how we can effectively use media to change the hearts and minds of Americans on the issue of marriage equality” said In The Life Media’s Executive Director Michelle Kristel. “Our new web site was designed to provide our viewers with the tools to participate in a meaningful way with our content and engage in conversations and take action on issues important to the LGBT community,” concluded Kristel.

And education is sorely needed, because while polls show North Carolinians support legal recognition of same-sex couples, it’s another matter to get those in favor of fairness to out to vote —  to give straight allies (as well as LGBTs) the information they need to speak to their friends and neighbors to motivate them with facts about what this amendment will do.

Here are the couples featured in the campaign, telling their stories.

George & Farid  (http://www.itlmedia.org/clips/entry/george-and-farid)

Restaurateurs George and Farid have been in a committed relationship for more than ten years. Together, they have built a successful business and are starting a family. With the historic marriage victory in New York, George and Farid are now able to say, “I do.”

Cristina & Monica (http://www.itlmedia.org/clips/entry/cristina-y-monica)

This Spanish-language video features Cristina, a US citizen, and her partner Monica, from Argentina. Although they married legally in their state the immigration protections provided for heterosexual binational couples do not apply to same-sex couples. Because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Cristina is prohibited from sponsoring Monica for immigration.

Tobi & Janee (http://www.itlmedia.org/clips/entry/tobi-and-janee)

Tobi and Janee were married in Connecticut. They have a son and are concerned about how the lack of federal recognition of their marriage impacts their family.

Each viewer has the opportunity to engage in the “Say, ‘I Do’ Mr. President” campaign led by Freedom to Marry which asks Americans to sign onto an Open Letter to President Obama requesting his leadership in ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage at the federal level.

Where will these be seen? The Marriage Matters video campaign has planned strategic ad buys with Terra Networks, The Charlotte Observer, Here Media and Common Sense Media, exposing these stories to  millions of mainstream, Latino and LGBT audiences. Matt Comer of QNotes had the reaction of ENC’s Stuart Campbell:

Equality North Carolina Executive Director Stuart Campbell said in a statement that the fight for full marriage equality is important but should not overshadow the current threat facing LGBT North Carolinians and unmarried couples in the state. The amendment, he said, was “one of the most far-reaching anti-LGBT amendments in the history of the country.”

“The language in this amendment is so broad and overreaching it should trouble even those who oppose marriage equality,” Campbell said, an apparent reference to conservative leaders like North Carolina’s Tea Party U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, a freshman Republican from Dunn, who have already expressed concern or opposition to the amendment.

Campbell added, “This amendment would not only permanently foreclose marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships for our families, it would also deny them any other measure of protections, large or small — a cruel punishment particularly in these tough economic times.”

Campbell also said the amendment would also affect current domestic violence laws and child custody agreements. Concerns over the amendment’s broad language have been voiced several times by University of North Carolina Law Professors Maxine Eichner and Lau Holning. Neither of the scholars nor citizens potentially affected by the amendment were allowed to address the measure in hearings before its approval by the Republican-controlled legislature in September.

Equality North Carolina is a member of the new Coalition to Protect NC Families, the referendum committee that will lead the campaign against the anti-LGBT amendment. The N.C. Values Coalition, led by anti-gay and hate group Family Research Council-affiliated lobbyist Tami Fitzgerald, will lead support for the amendment.

 

My quibble with this video campaign is that we need to see NC residents featured in this series; it’s clearly about the hurdles of our current federal DOMA that affect all same-sex couples. If you’re trying reach people where they are, you need to have a campaign that people can identify with. Lesbian and gay couples are already suffering under a state DOMA; we have no statewide employment non-discrimination laws on the books, and this amendment will not only cement that discrimination into the constitution, but do a lot more damage, as Stuart Campbell has outlined.

Let’s see North Carolina taxpaying residents already impacted by this state’s bigotry featured in the campaign, people who are the constituents of some of the state lawmakers who voted to put this travesty on the ballot.